A Different Perspective
11 May 2016
Most of us have experienced the NHS at some point, sometimes more memorably so than others – I remember the great care I received whilst having surgery in an East Lancashire hospital but have no recollection of my birth (obviously!) in the local GP surgery with the GP, Midwife and Ambulance Crew all present – you could say I’ve always known how to make an entrance and deep snow assisted the drama back then.
Working for the NHS I have almost lost sight of my own, personal patient perspective – I’ve done a lot of work on patient experience and regularly take the time to reflect on how something will affect patients but you forget the feeling of lying on the examination couch (or hopefully have the good health to do so anyway). Recently I experienced the care of my Trust, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust first hand – I’m ok, nothing of ongoing concern but it really put me back into the mind-set of how it feels to be a patient and what makes the difference.
I usually get nervous in waiting rooms, I have a strange fear of missing my own name being called but on this occasion I was unusually relaxed waiting to be called, flicking through a nature magazine and looking at stunning pictures of the Isle of Skye. I was called (loud enough not to be missed, not so loud to be embarrassing!) on time for my appointment and greeted by a smile and introductions on first name terms so before entering the treatment room I was still completely relaxed. I was actually seen by someone training for a clinical role under supervision and was reminded of my own position as a trainee. Personally, so long as there is adequate supervision I am always happy to be treated by someone in training or to have them observe. I understand the importance for the clinician in their development and feel safe that no harm will be allowed to come to me.
As the examination progressed I found my thoughts drifting a little and realised how ingrained HR process and procedure was in me at the moment. I found myself wondering when the staff appraisals were due; if they were up to date on statutory and mandatory training; longevity of service and the frequency of their management supervision. I can hand on heart say I have never wondered any of this in any previous medical appointments!
It was plain to see that regardless of any of the aforementioned questions in my head, the team of people looking after me were an effective team, they communicated well with each other and with me as the patient. They engaged me in conversation and made me feel at ease throughout.
I can’t express how proud I am that staff in the organisation I work for operate in such a brilliant, patient focused manner. When you’re “on the inside” you have a far greater awareness and appreciation for what people do, for the work they do not only when dealing with the patient but behind the scenes too. In an organisation such as the NHS there are always pressures; acute settings such as hospitals have to juggle not only the routine appointments like mine but also emergency admissions. There are staff shortages and ongoing political concerns and rumours, often blown out of proportion in the media. As a patient it is easy to believe that those treating you turn up to work, see patients all day and go home at the end of their shift but as an employee of the organisation you realise the amount of background work that goes into your appointment both by the clinical team and those in non-clinical roles.
Although I’d prefer not to be a patient again any time soon I was grateful to be a part of it, to experience a snapshot of what we work for and to take a moment to appreciate my colleagues and the amazing job they do.