Recently, I had a chat with a friend about how long she had to wait for her regular check-up at her hospital. Six hours apparently.
And no reason for the delay given. A surly service when she eventually did make it from waiting room to consultation couch didn’t help either.
The public often criticise the NHS for being designed around its staff rather than patients. But although we’ve all heard these anecdotes, this situation isn’t the whole truth.
Last week, I visited University Hospital Wales to see the work being done by two specialist epilepsy nurses – Malisa and Vicky, who were definitely not putting their needs before those of their patients. They have a whopping 13,000 patients, but are constantly redesigning services to make them more accessible, and more patient-centred. Initiatives include email helplines for GPs, clinics focused around specific groups, such as pregnant women and patients with low-grade gliomas. And they scooped a finalists’ place in last year’s Nursing Times Awards for carrying bleeps so they can be on call when on duty to attend to people who have presented at A&E with possible epilepsy, to help speed up their journey through hospital. That’s putting patients first – and it has only been achieved because of the nurses’ commitment.
Last week, hydration once again hit the headlines. But despite the tabloid appetite for slamming nurses’ handling of this issue, some exceptional work is being done in this field. Nurses have devised several methods of identifying the importance of hydration, such as colour coding water jugs, and in Guernsey, they even themed their Christmas tree to remind patients of the importance of hydration.
And, the Hydrant, winner of the Silver Award at our Nursing Times Product Awards in November, enables those patients unable to get to a jug, access to water using a simple cup and straw. A brilliant idea tackling a vital issue by putting patients first. This happens a lot, but, sadly, doesn’t make the tabloid headlines.