In August 2014 I was fortunate enough to be admitted to BMI Healthcare as an NHS patient under the ‘choose and book’ scheme.
When it first became evident that I had a problem, I was seen at a local gynaecology clinic where I received limited explanations and virtually no information about choice of treatments.
As a registered nurse for more than 42 years I was surprised when I reacted to this consultation with an overwhelming sense of powerlessness and foreboding. I returned to my sympathetic GP and requested an alternative referral.
Soon after, on a Saturday morning, in a well organised, stress-free, out-patients clinic at BMI Edgbaston Hospital, I was seen by a consultant obstetrician, gynaecologist and sub-specialist in urogynaecology. She sensitively and patiently explained the implications of a range of treatments. Her frank and informative approach enabled me to make a fully informed decision to suit my own particular needs.
Following this consultation her secretary emailed a copy of the GP’s letter summarising her findings.
Within a month, following a second visit for pre-operative screening, I was admitted to the same hospital for surgery, which was performed on the day of admission.
My husband and I were welcomed by a friendly receptionist and shown around my room-to-be by an equally amiable porter.
The ward offered open visiting from 11:00 am until 8pm. I received outstanding care at no personal financial cost (except for meals ordered for my husband so that we could eat together). Even car parking and use of the TV and wi-fi was free of charge.
Pre-operatively there was time to discuss any last minute concerns with the surgeon and anaesthetist, and the smiling faces of the theatre team as they welcomed me into their area of expertise, helped to reassure any last minute qualms.
“There was time to discuss any last minute concerns with the surgeon and anaesthetist”
Immediately after the operation I was vaguely aware of the recovery nurse handing over crucial information to ward staff. All procedures were conducted in the same unhurried routine fashion, which gave a great sense of security. I remained in hospital for four days.
Nurses were always attentive and courteous; they knocked the door each time before entering. Their care was delivered so smoothly that it was not easy to distinguish between care assistants, staff nurses and care managers.
They acted promptly to every change in my condition. When I needed an unscheduled chest x-ray; the radiographer had the same calm and respectful approach. This reassuring attitude was shared by all members of staff, from the daily cleaners to the consultant and physiotherapists, who visited each day.
Standards of care were exemplary in terms of my general physical and psychological well-being, and in addition to catheter, wound, intravenous infusion, pain control and the more intimate interventions.
“I could choose when I relaxed, rested, did my exercises and socialised”
Having a room of my own afforded not only the privacy and personal space that each person deserves, but I was also able to share the experience with my husband and close family, which helped to educate them and prepare them for my discharge. I could choose when I relaxed, rested, did my exercises and socialised.
Regular meals were prepared and delivered by friendly catering staff, offering sufficient choice to acknowledge my personal preferences. I felt valued as an individual and genuinely cared for, at a time when my confidence had plummeted and vulnerability soared, particularly during the immediate pre and post-operative period.
This experience makes me wonder how my care would have differed if I’d been admitted to an NHS hospital. Kind words, a little time, thought and human contact costs nothing, but can be a great investment in terms of patient satisfaction and rehabilitation.
Recovery is not solely dependent on scientific approaches and procedures, but as Florence Nightingale observed 155 years ago, equally important is punctuality in the administration of diet, fresh air, light, warmth, quiet and cleanliness. She added ‘And this quite as much in private as in hospital nursing’.
Nightingale F (1859) Notes on Nursing, Blackie and Son Limited (published 1974)