The NHS and Me

The Mid Staffordshire NHS trust inquiry report was released yesterday. This is tragic. I send my condolences to the families who have suffered.

I am a lover and huge advocate of the NHS. I can hear the cynic in you saying “Of course you would say that, you’re a nurse”. And, yes, I am a nurse. I have an argument with Mr 29, on what feels like a daily basis at times because I choose to work full time doing this job. He would much prefer me to be at home.

As a mum to two young boys, I have never had any concerns with seeking and receiving treatment for my children. They were delivered at our local hospital. I had easy births and quick deliveries. The midwives said they wished all their ladies were like me. Both the things were born at 36 weeks and were reviewed by a paediatrician straight after they were born. The Health Visitor insisted she would keep coming out to Thing 1 when I was adamant I could get to clinic to allow her to visit another family. The Community Midwife stayed with Thing 2 a few days longer then she should have, to monitor his jaundice. Thing 1 had a heart murmur at 6 weeks old and I found an inguinal hernia when he was 8 weeks old. By 10 weeks old he had a cardiology review {the heart murmur was benign} and an inguinal hernia repair under a general anaesthetic {nil by mouthing a 10 week old was a mammoth task!}. As he became older he would require further hospital appointments for regular ear infections and glue ear. Thing 2 has allergies and migraines {as a migraine sufferer myself, seeing him with an attack is heart wrenching} , again we received input from our local hospital. His allergies are under control {with the use of a steroid} and he has been prescribed medication when he has a migraine.

The NHS is changing constantly. Our family members are living longer. Science is more advanced. Patients are being diagnosed with more illnesses and having them treated. Medical research is ongoing.

We as a nation expect.

As a nurse, I have seen many changes since I started as a nursing student back in 1996. I remember having an uninterrupted break! I recall being able to paint nails and curl hair when working on a weekend {for the lady patients!}.  Now, a weekend is the same as a week day minus doctors, therapists, and our blessed ward clerk. That phone still rings at weekend! Our patients are older now a days, I remember starting out when a 75 year old was termed elderly, nearly 20 years on, that 75 year old is now a young patient. Patients present to hospital with ongoing complex medical problems, before they are even diagnosed with yet another one . Nurses are now doing jobs that doctors used to do, because the doctor role has evolved too. And, if you see us by a computer, we are not facebooking or tweeting {that has been blocked by the hospital server}, we are looking up blood results, chasing up medical equipment, referring your relative to the dietitian, admitting and discharging patients and updating our bed stock.

I love my job, I really do. I have always wanted to be a nurse for as long as I can remember. I cannot think of what else I would be good at. I am caring, and I am a good nurse, a great nurse my colleagues have told me. I love washing patients, it is such a special time. You can learn so much about their skin integrity, their nutrional intake and their breathing. I have diagnosed DVT’s, PE’s, Fat Embolism and Compartment Syndrome, all before the patient has been reviewed by a Doctor, or the results of diagnostic tests are back. All of these can be life or limb threatening.

But nursing is hard. It is challenging. We are physically and verbally abused on a regular basis. We are doing our best. I recently had 2 lady patients asking for the toilet at the same time. There was 1 of me. How can I choose who needs the toilet more? I prioritised wrong, and a lady lost her dignity.

That IV antibiotic our relative is receiving in hospital can take anything from 15 minutes to up to 2 hours to prepare and check and administer safely. And our relative is not the only patient receiving it. On the ward I work on 15 out of 30 patients are on IV antibiotics. That is a lot of time a trained nurse is viewed as not being ‘with’ a patient. And that strong pain killer that our relative has been prescribed? It is a Controlled Drug and it takes 2 trained nurses to check it. 2 weeks ago my tea time dug round finished at 1945. I had IV antibiotics to prepare and give and on this occasion out of 14 patients, 60% of them were on a Controlled Drug. So, although I wasn’t working out of a drug trolley and you desperately wanted to talk with me I was still giving our relatives their pain relief and vital medication. And because, I care about ALL our relatives, and because I know how horrible it is to have somebody you love in hospital, I stayed past my finishing time, and chatted with you, answering your questions and giving you explanations you understood. You thanked me, and said I had given you more information then you had ever been given on previous hospital admissions.

Thank you, for thanking me.

I had a telephone conversation on Monday with a patients relative who was being abusive to our ward clerk. I spoke with her. And her anger and frustration is caused because she says she has no support. She told me how she is stuggling to divide her time between her mother {who we were discharging} and her daughter, as she looks after her Grandchildren. This is happening a lot. The middle generation, still working or helping out their children, whilst still having elderly parents to care for. I explained how we were arranging a short term care package for her mother and would organise hospital transport to ensure she was delivered safely into her house. I listened. I empathasised with her.

She asked me to apologise for her rudeness and thanked me.

All I ask is that we are supported in our roles so that we can care for patients without too many politics {believe it or not we were doing hourly rounding long before we had to document that we are doing it- it’s called basic nursing Mr Cameron!}. Extra staff would be amazing. I often think how we could easily have an extra HCA just to answer bells, and trained nurse to assist with IV drugs. Oh, and extra help at meal times. The list is endless really.

I was at the walk- in centre recently with Thing 2 {tonsilitis again!} and a guy was moaning about the wait, and how he was paying for this service and “all your wages” {I have to tell you as a nurse, I LOVE this being thrown in my face!}. Yes, it was a 1 and half hour wait, but I presumed he wanted to be assessed safely and diagnosed appropriately. The NHS is a conveniance for all of us, we have access to this service 24 hours a day, and one day, if we should ever lose it, we all will be remembering how remarkable and how lucky we are to have it in the UK. I love the NHS.



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