NHS Highs & Lows – A Personal ExperienceOctober 16 2015
Checking into the hospital at 7am, the nerves were all over the place. And I’m disappointed to say that the welcome at the ward didn’t really help in calming them. There was no personalised approach, instead I was given a wrist band complete with bar code and then the nurses confirmed my unit number. In the space of a minute I had gone from being a person to being a product, a unit. Unit number 7166375.
My operation was due in the morning, or so we thought. When I asked at 11am I was told I was actually scheduled for 3pm. Apparently this had always been the case, and I could have had a small breakfast but no one thought to tell me.
Once I’d had the operation I couldn’t fault the care I received. I was never in much pain as there was always some medication I could take. Although they wouldn’t give me any morphine after a certain time, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to go home that day.
While I was in theatre, I’m told that the support for my family was great. I had some problems with coming round from the anaesthetic, and the theatre team explained what was happening to my family, putting their mind at ease.
What has become really clear to me is that the level of care you receive in the NHS varies depending on which section of your stay you’re in. I can divide it into three sections. Section 1 is the admission and waiting to go to theatre, section 2 is the operation and the period afterwards, and section 3 is the period after the Consultant has said you can go home.
In section 1 there’s not a great effort made. Maybe this is because you’re actually not ill yet. It was frustrating that no information came to me without me having to request it. I was unit number 7166375.
In section 2 there’s so much care and support that you forget about the disappointment of section 1. There’s support or family and the patient. There were more painkillers than you can imagine, hundreds of cups of tea, nurses checking you every 10 minutes and food on request. Now I was Ryan Case.
In section 3 there was the same effort as in section 1. Now the focus was getting the bed clear for the next patient. There wasn’t any information about future care, unless I asked for it. There was a sudden break off when it came to pain relief. And, the attitude of the nurses seemed to change. Again, I had become unit number 7166375.
I can only think that the target system has encouraged this style within the NHS. The focus is too much on getting as many people through the doors as possible. I can’t fault the medical care I received, however it’d be nice to feel like I’m more than 7166375.
Youth Advisory Committee, Chair
West Yorkshire Branch