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Do we really need "fixing"?


One of the things I like about my job is wearing pyjamas to work each day that are laundered, and sometimes ironed, by the kindly NHS.

But, I have one problem with scrubs. To find a pair of trousers that are long enough in the leg, I need to wear a pair of XXLs with a crutch so low it would have suited MC Hammer in the 80s.

So I was interested to hear while listening to the Today Program on my drive to work, that Sir Stuart Rose is being drafted in to improve management within the NHS. Sir Stuart’s claim to fame is that he used to run Marks and Spencer, which gives me high hopes for my issue with scrubs and the “one size fits no-one” problem.

Could they now be designed by Per Una with a nice row of buttons and cut on the bias in pastel shades?

There must be millions of pairs of scrubs owned by the NHS and so would it really be impossible to have a few more choices in sizes? Even just a tall and short version of each size would be a start.

But wait a mo’, M&S also sell bed linen; perhaps we could have sheets big enough to fit the beds and allow the return of hospital corners?

This set me thinking about the whole topic of someone external to the NHS, a very large public organisation, being brought in to “fix” failing trusts. 

The Sky News website state’s Sir Stuart is “to become a top health advisor”, although it’s not immediately obvious where he gained this expertise in healthcare. Sir Stuart, I discover, is an advisor to the Bridgepoint private equity group which, according to their website, acquired Care UK in 2010 for €480m; are Care UK not one of the companies looking to secure a large chunk of the NHS business? And as a colleague reminded me, another external expert brought in to “sort out” a large national enterprise was Dr. Richard Beeching, moving from ICI to British Railways and then subsequently closing lines with no regard of the cost to local communities.

But I think the bit that annoys me most is the description of “failing”.

I consider myself to be fairly resilient to pressure from others, but I know from experience at school that when I’m told I’m a failure then that is what I become. Positive motivation has always been more effective; if you tell people they are “Super Stars”, doing a great job, in difficult times and saving lives, then my experience is people stepping up to the mark and doing those exact things. 

Which, kind-of, leads back to my initial point. It’s the small things that help give you pride in who you are and make you feel valued; like having scrubs that vaguely fit and don’t make you feel like you have been dressed from the dressing-up basket.


Jayne Parker is a Staff Nurse working for the NHS and living in the South East with her partner, a cat and a large motorcycle.



Readers' comments (7)

  • well said!

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  • There must be a huge shopping list here ! Fitted sheets to save sitting on a wrinkly sheet would top my list . Having long legs a pair of trousers that did not leave you looking like Oliver Twist would be good . However i really don't know if Rose can fix the NHS , he did not do too well with M and S. Telling people they are rubbish is about as negative as you can get. Anyone who has brought up a child knows that praise succeeds every time .
    Fixing the NHS, thats a real conundrum !

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  • re scrubs and sheets

    M&S sell garments in labour saving crinkly materials - why not ask Mr. Rose for further advice? :-)

    telling people they are rubbish can be a self-fulfilling prophesy! :-(
    surely this is not what the NHS and its managers want! Certainly patients don't and nor do its staff.

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  • I've worked in the NHS for a number of years now and I while I do think we get a lot of things right, i also get the sense that the NHS is on 'life-support' and that it's only a matter of time before the inevitable happens, unless there is fundamental change.

    The NHS has ballooned into this huge, all-encompassing bureaucracy that is now so large the left hand doesn't know what the right is doing and everyone is so busy beavering away in their own little speciality firing-out policies and procedures and endless documents - that are often contradictory - that there seems to be no overall strategic direction of travel.

    I blame the incessant political meddling: Labours remedy to the 'NHS illness' was to thrown money at it like lottery winning chavs lavishing £M's on ill-thought-out schemes, pointless exercises and increasing the workforce. The Conservative remedy would appear to be to dump as much of the NHS into the private sector as possible and keep their friends happy.

    Firstly, I think the NHS needs to be made completely apolitical and independent of government being run solely for the benefit of the people.

    Secondly, the NHS needs to go on a massive diet: I mean it radically needs to reduce in size and reach.

    Thirdly and most importantly more care needs to be provided in the community: being admitted into hospital must be thought the exception not the norm. Our wards are filled with often elderly patients that ought not be there, but have nowhere else to go. Much more money needs to be diverted into keeping people at home and I don't mean more community matrons.

    If the NHS is to survive, it's going to have to adapt. So to answer your question: we do need fixing, but not by the like of Stuart Rose. I think most of us that work in the NHS can see what's wrong with it and what needs to be done to put things right.

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  • Elderly people have nowhere to go because some crazy person decided to close some hospitals catering for the elderly There were 2 hospitals in my district especially for the elderly One had 4 wards of approximately 24 beds .The other had 3 wards of about 26 beds Total 174 beds Needless to say some person decided to close them both. We now have elderly patients on wards in the General Hospital bed blocking Wheres the common sense in this

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  • Jayne Parker

    Thank's all for the great comments and for taking the debate forward.

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  • I seem to remember in my safeguarding training, the concept of telling a child that they are a failure every day constitutes mental and emotional abuse, for which the social services are often invited to be involved. Can we apply this to those who are constantly telling us we are failures?

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