As mentioned previously, my son is on dialysis and this weekend we had an unplanned additional visit. His potassium is very high and he had more dialysis. So we were in the unit Saturday morning and we had some pretty desultory care and some OK care.
It must be an interesting challenge for the nursing staff to get the right mix about independence for patients and providing attention where it is needed. Most of the patients there are elderly, some clearly with comorbidities – combining kidney failure and diabetes seems not uncommon and there are quite a few amputees – those clinical amongst you will know more about this, and loads of other stuff, than I do. A lot of the care is quite technical, Jamie’s nursing input is largely someone plugging him and unplugging him, with an occasional word.
It brought me back to the day I decided to join the NHS. It was the day he was born. I was a young unmarried mother on my own in the middle of the night in labour sobbing, not because of the pain or because I was so scared, but because I had just been horribly spoken to by one of the staff. I didn’t want it to be that way for anyone else. My sister is a nurse, older than me, and was so disappointed that I chose to become a manager rather than a nurse, she saw it as some kind of betrayal. I knew I didn’t have what she had – but I so wanted to make a difference. So I did it in my own small way.
I think the NHS is still a towering example of our society at its very best, the principles are no less important now than they ever have been. Over the last 26 years my son has been privileged to get the kind of excellent healthcare that very few people get in the world, and without us being made bankrupt in the process. Yet we still fall short of what it could be, the worst impact is that it gives those who seek an alternative to the NHS reason to do so.
Our programmes at the Academy focus on how you lead with care and compassion because I think our leaders get the staff they deserve, sometimes our patients don’t. So my plea to staff who feel unable to care is this – tell us what you need, demand your managers and leaders turn up at your Frontline and understand your job, your challenges, your frustrations and work with them to make it better. If we all play the part we have to play, I really think we can make the differences needed to change good care to excellent care. Lets go for that.