Tuesday, November 06, 2012

How can I help?

Yesterday was extraordinary. Weird thing kept happening after weird thing, and many brilliant things happened as well. It was such a good day.

(Way up there was our new bin being delivered from John Lewis. It has a fancy lid that opens when you press it. This is very exciting.)

I am feeling really positive and lucky at the moment that I've started to look at ways to thank King's. When I was in hospital, particularly the first time, I was simply amazed (not in a good way) by the way people treat nurses and other members of hospital staff that aren't doctors. I can't imagine what they are expecting that would make them feel so let down, to behave in such a way.

Such aggressive language, I just don't understand why they thought it was ok to treat another person like that. And it wasn't just one person, it was everyone, even visitors. Just astounding.

At the time, I thought I would like to do something about it - but had no idea what. So I've been thinking and it's got me all worked up.

The first ward I stayed in was a short stay ward mainly for people that had been admitted through A&E. The people that I shared a bay with here were among the rudest, nastiest and ungrateful people that I have ever met. I was ashamed for them. I was ashamed of myself for just standing by and watching.

The second time I was admitted, was to a specialist ward for people recovering from some kind of neurosurgery - we'd all had either head or spine operations. Clearly the patients here had more to be thankful for, and they were as you would expect, less rude.

But that didn't stop them complaining and moaning. Run out of Weetabix? Don't serve WeightWatchers branded soup? Dear lord, call the BBC. Had to wait two hours before an ambulance was free to take you home? But you still got taken home! To your doorstep, by an ambulance - what are you complaining for? It really got to me.


So I've had a pie in the sky idea: I want to do some research. I want to find out why people feel so frustrated and let down by the NHS. What do they think they are entitled to? I'm really interested to discover what they're expecting. Finding out where the perceived failings are will point out where to change the messaging, to manage expectations. Maybe just explaining how something works (ambulances aren't just hanging around waiting to take you home...) will make people less angry.

But research is expensive and I have no experience or background in it. Even if I did, I'm sure I wouldn't be allowed to go around just interviewing people. It would need to be centralised, and that would mean someone central caring about the NHS and it's reputation and future. Huh.

As a first step, I've applied to become a member of King's College Hospital Foundation Trust. We live so close to the hospital that it seems like such an opportunity to volunteer and bring some value to people. Hopefully I can at some point get involved at a deeper level and scope out the right people to put my idea to. It's a start anyway, I hope they accept me.


  1. I completely agree. I had an admission through A&E (albeit four years ago) and when home wrote to the A&E staff and the ward staff to thank them. I was so grateful for their help, care and attention whilst all around people were moaning and complaining. Also my god daughter is training to be nurse and I don't wish for her to be verbally abused. I think your blog is great and hope it helps you with a speedy recovery and maybe with your positive attitude you will be able to help the besieged professionals in the NHS!

  2. Jen, If you want to do the research, you could just do it, It doesn't have to be a NHS sanctioned exercise. Plenty of people study organizations without their explicit permission or with a direct benefit to the organization studied. - I know I'm an OU student, and do it all the time ;) -. You could just start something small and see what information you get back and see where it leads you. Even if you created a questionnaire and sent it to your friends, and asked them to send it to their friends, that could be something. To make correlation the research easier, you could use a multiple choice googleform, to complete a spreadsheet to start producing data.
    You never know, it might lead anywhere, but it might really capture your interest and lead somewhere amazing, Good luck...whatever you choose. xx

  3. Jeez, I apologize for my appalling grammar in that post

  4. Hi Jen. :) I hope you're having a good evening. I've been following your blog - it's been really great to read your thoughts and you write in such a brilliant, witty way! Simon and I are so happy to hear of how well things are going.

    I think your comments on patient experience of the NHS are really interesting and it's definitely something that needs more research. The NHS and King's produced a report in January of this year on patient experience, including interviews on what patients expect from the NHS and what matters to them. You might know of this already of course, but if not then the report is here and might make for interesting reading: http://www.institute.nhs.uk/patient_experience/guide/the_patient_experience_research.html. I definitely think there's a lot of work yet to be done in terms of turning research findings into policy outputs, and also involving NHS service users/patients in the research process - not just as 'passive' participants or people to be interviewed, but as people to actively help develop improvements.

    There are several health psychologists in my department at University of Surrey, so if you are interested I could put you in touch with someone who can explain how research within the NHS gains ethical approval and is conducted.

    Much love to you and Oliver xx

    1. Hey Ellie, Thanks so much I hadn't seen that - it's really interesting. I haven't actually done anything (like look for existing research) I probably should have done that before spouting off about what they should be doing! I'm becoming more and more interested in research so when I have more energy I'd love to speak to your contacts - thank you!

      Thanks for your kind words about the blog. Hopefully see you both soon - maybe if there's a Christmas lunch this year?

      Lots of love back to you both xx