I had to go to hospital today to see the consultant. The whole episode has been preceeded by tests, scans and quite a bit of what turns out to be unnecessary worry. There is bright light at the end of the tunnel in more ways than one. That must signal a sigh of relief to the phlebotomists (AKA Daughters of Dracula, it's true! There's a sign on their coffin, I mean door) who won't have to hear me say again "But that's very nearly an armful!" Wonder if I was the first to say that?
I've worked in the National Health Service for more than 16 years where my entire focus has been on improving the lot of the patient. We can make noises about treating patients with dignity, set targets for how dignified people should be and then produce performance indicators, making sure they are SMART (an acronym, I can't remember what it stands for, measurable and realistic are in there) but the bottom line is always down to the people who run the service locally and the state of the building they're working in.
There are some fabulous people in the NHS, I can name hundreds who I've worked with, for, or who have worked for me. I also know that sometimes, someone, usually with an office address of 12A The Ivory Tower, has what they think is the best idea in the whole universe and then decrees that one of the largest employers in the world (in the same league as the Indian Railways, Chinese Army and Wal-Mart) should Make It Happen.
The latest Best Idea, which I've seen implemented everywhere from GP surgeries, clinics and hospitals, is to:
- Put a waiting room in a small, windowless area
- Set out armless chairs in tightly-packed rows so everyone's personal space and therefore dignity, is invaded
- Place a TV where no-one can avoid it
- Set it to an entirely inappropriate programme (today we saw Air Ambulance Rescues) and don't let anyone change the channel
- Provide leaflets with just enough information to scare you before you go in for your consultation
- Leave those who are clearly very ill and who no-one would mind getting a fast-track, to wait in their wheelchair while people squeeze past them
This is not the fault of the staff there.
I'll leave it at that.
My story continues. The consultant I saw was superb, told me what was what – all good news. I'd had an MRI scan, an interesting exerience in itself, involving lead shields (for the operators) and ear plugs (for me, heck, it's noisy in there) which had caused a little blip, but it turned out OK.
However, a completely unconnected problem was spotted – which I knew about and had had for years. The MRI people wanted me to have another scan. Why, I asked? This is not a big deal. What would be done about it anyway?
And that, I thought, was that.
But now I'm in The System. The consultant understood where I was coming from – heck, this wasn't even his specialty, but the radiographer needed to close the loop. What's an MRI between friends?
It goes back to the Someone Somewhere issue at the start of this blog. Targets to meet etc etc etc. So it's out with the earplugs, they are bloomin' noisy, those scanners.
Today's lovely thing
Playing with my new camera (see photo)