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2 October 2013
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For Stoptober, let's stop bashing the NHS

Let’s stop couching our language in terms of the crisis befalling healthcare, the inexorable rise of C Diff and the latent menace of MRSA. Let’s dig beneath the crisis and highlight the diligent daily work being done by thousands of staff, around the clock, to manage the medical, social and domestic crises which land on their doorsteps, be it hospital, clinic, front room on a visit, or pharmacy. Let’s publicise those pieces of work that are stemming the tide of bacterial infection and work together to help those who are finding those things a challenge.

Let’s this month talk about the junior doctors only three months into their full professional careers who have decades of service ahead of them, and help them appreciate just what a fantastic world they have just become a part of. Let’s show them, by example, how best to work with their nursing, physiotherapy, carer, managerial, radiological, laboratory, catering and portering colleagues to ensure they remain true to the values of what good care looks like.

Let’s do our best to rise above politics and the who-said-what approach to health. Let’s turn every politically generated comment into a reason to debate not the politics, but the underlying premise that the politics seeks to poke into. Let’s remember that we are all, or will all become, patients of the system, and we will care much less about politics when we face the scanner or receive our diagnosis. Let’s do all we can to ensure that we are compassionate and clear with our patients, regardless of their politics – or their family’s politics.

Let’s do our best to go to work looking forward to the day, evening or night shift ahead, aware for sure of the likely stresses and strains it will bring, but reassured that we’re part of a team, and everyone is looking out for each other and will help them if they seem to be struggling with the demands that healthcare places on all of us from time to time.

Let’s take every opportunity to talk about preventative health. Let’s remind our patients in A&E that drinking this much might seem fun but that they’ve only just escaped a major head injury. Let’s remind mums to put sunscreen on their toddlers on those rare sunny days. Let’s ask carers if their dad has still got his frame at home, and are they still okay using those stairs that he fell down last time he came? Let’s take a moment to think about what things are like at home with a sick or disabled relative or friend.

Let’s help the faculties, academies and colleges to whom we pay our subscriptions to shine a light on those who are seeking help with a project that holds promise however small it may seem to be. Let’s work together with these bodies as collective members not subscribers, shaping policies, describing care, asking the difficult questions of the dogma, rattling the cages when it’s needed but leaving them alone when it’s not.

Let’s ask colleagues today how they feel. Make them a cup of tea. Take them to lunch. Arrange to meet for a drink at the weekend. Look at photos of their kids at their new school. Celebrate birthdays. Swap shifts to get them out of a tight spot. Help them fill in job applications. Practice examination technique with them. Share experiences. Care for our fellow staff like we try to care for our patients.

Because we’re all, at the end of the day, just trying to do the best we can, with scant resources, as part of a team, with pretty simple goals when all’s said and done. Keep healthy. Treat the sick. Do it well. Do it properly. Do it right. The politics don’t, can’t and won’t alter any of that.

For Stoptober, let’s stop bashing the NHS.

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About the author

Darren Kilroy's picture

Darren Kilroy

Darren Kilroy FCEM M.Ed. Ph.D. is a Consultant in Emergency Medicine in Cheshire, and Director for Network Leadership and Development in Unscheduled Care. He is also Hon. Senior Lecturer in Emergency Care at Manchester Metropolitan University, and Clinical Lead for Unscheduled Care at NHS Stockport. His main areas of interest are the challenges of clinical and managerial engagement around emergent clinical commissioning models, and the role of clinical leadership within transformational change.


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