I’VE just had my first personal experience of our local NHS emergency services and have been so impressed by the quality throughout that I want to acknowledge this.
Previous experience as an administrator and a resident in various ‘developing’ countries no doubt enhanced my appreciation as I witnessed the way a system of so many parts can work so smoothly and reflected on the underpinnings which make that possible.
Ambulances were in great demand the evening we called, but movements were being carefully managed and Ashford sending reinforcements.
Meanwhile I had the attention of an extremely competent and companionable paramedic, then replaced by an equally competent member of the ambulance team.
Both were people one would like to know better.
There wasn’t time at the Conquest A&E for much non-essential conversation as the staff members were so busy with incessant new arrivals brought in by ambulance teams. (No chance to sleep either; the phone kept ringing too.)
There were three nurses for ten people at a time (more waiting in the corridor) plus a range of technicians, assistants bringing equipment, giving tests, taking blood, getting analyses, making notes for the doctor on duty who must make decisions about each patient.
In my case it was: safe to return home for the few remaining pre-pacemaker days but a change of medication meanwhile – this being just one example of the scores of decisions about priorities, and what next?, which must be made in the hours when most people are fast asleep.
A formidable level of coordination and dedication is required to ensure that the role assignments, timings, procedures, records, analyses, etc mesh properly given an ever-changing population and a stretched staff.
Asked for the key attributes of staff at all levels I would say: Competence, Confidence and Caring – a reflection of the sound training, cultivation of appropriate personal qualities and coordination apparent within the system.
But there are two further observations to report from my night at the Conquest A&E:
When I thanked the various individuals for their services, the response was likely to be something like ‘It would be nice if more people let us know they appreciated...’ with perhaps a remark hinting at the compulsive complainers, the people who regularly turn up drunk or for no real medical reason - the ones who have never thought about the impact of all those night shifts on sleep patterns and personal lives – or how very fortunate they are to have access to such good care.
Watching staff cope so well non-stop with so many different demands leads inevitably to this conclusion: Any changes to the NHS which reduce the number of nurses and their supporters cannot possibly be considered part of ‘reforms’!
Watchbell Street, Rye