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Thursday, 23 October 2014

Nothing but praise for care – but not system

THE standard of care in our hospitals has always been an issue on which opinions are polarised.

Louise Allonby
Louise Allonby

Not surprisingly so, as we inevitably judge such things subjectively, depending on our own experiences.

Over the last month, I have had first-hand experience of a medical crisis involving my mother, two hospitals, an open-minded surgeon and a wholly unexpected outcome which the surgeon himself described as being nothing short of a miracle.

At times it has felt as though we were engaged in playing a macabre game of hospital cliché bingo. You name it, we’ve gone through it. “Emotional roller coaster”? Check. “Mercy dash”? Check. “Hospital closed due to norovirus outbreak”? Check. The only one missing (and thus preventing us from calling House!) was “bedside vigil”. And that is entirely down to the skills of the surgeon in question and his team.

Good news stories about our local hospitals often get overlooked, so I am delighted to have one of my own to impart. I have nothing but praise for the staff at both Furness General Hospital’s A&E department and Royal Lancaster Infirmary. The same has to be said for the team of district nurses and especially my mum’s GP, who has throughout the ordeal been a tower of strength.

However, no system is perfect, as too many of us are well aware when it comes to the NHS. As Furness MP John Woodcock commented last week, these are tough times locally for health care, with budget cuts coming when system failings need to be addressed.

Putting my subjective hat on once more, it seems many of the failings in our hospitals could be dealt with simply and efficiently in two easy ways.

First, bring back matron. Second, cut out swathes of middle management and re-distribute the salary savings back into frontline care, which is where it’s actually needed.

Whilst the standard of nursing care my mum received was superb, for the family it was difficult to know which member of nursing staff was responsible for what. The uniforms make it virtually impossible to work out who does what job – and we never knew who was actually in charge of the ward. I don’t even know if there is such a thing as a ward sister any more.

Hospitals need a clear chain of command, more medical staff than managers, less bureaucracy, nurses who nurse rather than study for degrees, and a Hattie Jacques-style matron in every one.

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