From my recent posts and tweets, it's clear some of you are beginning to think I'm staying in a hospital from a Carry-On film without the wit.
However, there are a thousand different clues that tell you whether a hospital is well run or not and I truly do think this one IS well run. For all the faults and mistakes, I'm still convinced they are due to under-funding and under-staffing, not incompetence.
A patient-centered hospital listens to the little things and improves them. Each time you are admitted you notice details that used to frustrate you have been dealt with. I used to wait endlessly for the ward door to be unlocked when I went downstairs for a cigarette. Sometimes I honestly began to worry that I'd have to sleep outside in the corridor. This stay, it is always answered within 6 rings of the entry phone.
There are 2 large TV screens in the foyer. One announces "You told us..... (insert complaint) The other explains what they did to put the problem right.
Last stay, I used to feel quite intimidated if I had to take a lift with a male night worker on my own. Now, unless it's just coincidence, they step out if there's no-one else around.
I used to find some of the guys on the security desk a bit rude. Again, if I wanted to go out for a cigarette at night, I would have to press a button for them to release the door. Sometimes they just wouldn't bother and I'd wait outside indefinitely, although I could clearly see them sitting at the desk. One of them had a little power trip and wouldn't let me go out of the back door to the relative privacy of the taxi rank, but insisted I brave the onslaught of the very main road at the front of the hospital, always busy with passing drunks around about midnight. That has all stopped too. They no longer question me on who I am or where I'm going, which seems reasonable, as I always imagined with frustration that the pyjamas, wild hair and drip stands kind of gave my patient identity away.
Pain relief is an absolute priority here, unlike my old hospital. No matter how busy they are, I rarely wait for more than 15 minutes and it takes nearly that long to find another trained member of staff, find the keys to the controlled drug cupboard and draw it up.
If all goes wrong, the ward sisters (on the whole, apart from my unfortunate experience) are there to be patient advocates and I've often heard them tearing into pharmacy or an unfortunately hapless doctor on our behalf.
I suppose the point of writing this post is to say that if things are so bad for me here at a renowned teaching hospital with a very healthy focus on patient care and improvement, things will almost certainly be worse in most local hospitals around the country. In my experience, this kind of focus on patient care is quite rare. I have refused point blank to go to my local hospital for many, many, years now and have made 2 or 3 hour journeys vomiting all the way, just to avoid putting myself at their mercy.
I think it's too easy to blame poor management or lazy staff. If the staff don't appear lazy, they can't be. If the hospital seems well managed, it probably is.
But the NHS has been ordered to save £20 billion over the course of this parliament. Most people don't stop to think about how much money that actually is. It's 20 THOUSAND MILLION POUNDS!! There are only so many biscuits you can cut back on on the tea round. The NHS has never been adequately financed in the 25 years I've been an in-patient. The only time I've been on a fully staffed ward was in 2007 after 10 years of extra Blair money. It runs to the absolute bone. 20 thousand million pounds will affect care and outcomes, there's no way at all anyone can argue that it won't.