Former NHS Nurse and manager now contemplating the NHS from outside

Archive for the ‘Blogging’ Category

2011 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 23,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 9 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

It’s my 6th anniversary

It is 6 years ago today that I posted my first blog post, boy time flies! I believe I am sitting in the same place, possibly about the same time of day. It is Saturday morning, hubby is putting in some over time (though these days he is on a salary and doesn’t actually get paid for it, he just love it so much!) and I am sitting in bed, laptop on lap. really I have more than enough to get on with. I have house work; who doesn’t but given my recent laziness an urge to blog should not be ignored at the expense of dusting, hoovering and bathroom cleaning!

One of the reasons I am still quite reticent about posting my thoughts is that the kinds of things I would like to say could get me sacked. It would be enough to say that the passage towards my new position has not been facilitated well by my employer. But good news, following my impending holiday (starts next Friday, yipee!) I will at last be able to start the job secured as a secondment in June.The urge to badmouth ones managers is something that you are always wise to suppress especially since I have been hearing stories of people being disciplined and sacked for doing so.

I am part way through a course to become an RCN Steward and the days spent with fellow trainees have been enlightening particularly when it comes to hearing about some of the things that nurses get up to and what is more say online. Whether it is using work computers to run some kind of raunchy dating agency, browse the kind of information they shouldn’t or else posting derisory information on facebook for the world to see apparently people are out there doing it all. What is more, my steward colleagues are kept busy providing them with support and managers are kept busy taking the errant employees down a disciplinary route. I do not intend to have the same thing happen to me!

Of course there is plenty more to write about, or there most certainly will be when I get stuck into working through the world of quality improvements to cancer care. This much I promise.

Work in progress

As part of my attempt to re-enter the grand world of the blog I am making some changes. New theme is done; hope you like it. Just all the links etc to sort. This will hopefully be completed tomorrow!

Resolutions for 2011

The last day of 2010 and I think that means it must be time for a blog post. I won’t apologise any more for not writing  my blog, nor will I make any promises about blogging more; it is pretty likely I will break any resolution like that before the year is a few days old. All in all I’d say January 1st is a poor time to resolve to do anything, after all many people are either hung over, or sleep deprived or both. Although I have titled this post “Resolutions for 2011″ I think it might be more apt to spell out my “intentions for 2011″ then I can justify my failure when things don’t work out. So here goes:

  1. To continue to have a job throughout the year – 2011 will see the continued NHS changes, with the Health Bill published later in January. The year will be an uncertain one as we don’t know yet just how much of the change will take place; PCTs won’t be abolished until March 2013 but change will be progressive.
  2. To save as much money as possible – Matt plans to study in the US for a year from this autumn and it is going to cost us a pretty penny. Not to mention the fact that we will need to visit too. This year will be a year of austerity for the country and for us.
  3. Having said the above, I intend to take a break somewhere new this year. Florence in Italy would be my current favourite.
  4. To get fitter and slimmer – usual thing but after about 2 years of pretty constant weight, I have slipped up a bit over the last few months and put on a few pounds and what is more haven’t been to Zumba or pranced about infront of my Wii for 3 months. That must change and change as soon as possible.
  5. Linked to the above, both Barry and I have slipped into a bad routine of having a drink when we get in from work. That also must change and alcohol needs to be for weekends and special occasions. This will be better financially, for health and for my weight!
  6. I’ll try not to fall out with any of my relatives (particularly those only related by marriage) but at the same time I am going to try not to allow myself to be walked all over.

So there you have it. I’ll be back at some point to see how these intentions are progressing…..

Meanwhile a Happy New Year to anyone who happens past this Blog!

NHS 2010

What can I say? My latest post proclaiming an imminent return has come and gone. In effect my promises are as empty as those of most of the politicians currently infecting my TV screens. The post at the bottom of the page when I logged in this morning was written and posted last July. I am clearly useless, have little to say. Or else there is another deeper meaning? Well no doubt the reasons are not deep. I am just generally lazy, I spend too much time on the evil facebook (that post still gets me 600 hits some days – why?) and my general disgruntlement with the NHS pretty much disappeared during the last year.

The job, while not necessarily the best paid has been pretty fulfilling not to mention busy. I also think I have had a reasonable amount of fun on the way. I have been learning to live my life post-child-leaving-for-university. This has involved me doing more than work, cook dinner (anything involving pasta and curry though not together), wash and iron jeans and tee shirts (the clothes of a teenager) and act as a taxi service to a boy who ought to have passed his test by now. No, hubby and I have travelled the country (well been to a few sea side towns and London), stayed in hotels we can’t really afford and eaten in good restaurants. We have also been on a couple of longer trips abroad and generally enjoyed ourselves. Mortgage rates are low, the debts are reducing and some months hubby even has some overtime. Yes life has been good.

Now however we need to get real. It seems that some of us haven’t taken this recession seriously enough. We have enjoyed a period of growth (more money in our pockets and more money in the NHS). Now though all that must end. Firstly the new government (whichever gets into power) will need to tighten the belt (maybe higher VAT or national insurance or both), and the public sector will need to take a hit. The bottom line at work now is this: THERE IS NO MONEY.

This is a depressing message in whatever language you might translate it into. Reading between the lines of: The job of a commissioner is to redesign services to obtain the best value for money tells me that quality is pretty much out and saving money at all costs is in.

A lady interviewed on the London News last week caused a massive chill to move up my back and into my head creating a headache which hasn’t actually left me yet (though the virus keeping me off work today could be responsible for that). This person, a member of the London Assembly I think and who was a Tory said that NHS bureaucrats are dispensable (or something similar), she stated she saw nothing wrong in getting rid of folks like me. This is set in the context of my organisation which has told us it needs to save 30% on management costs (more on that in my next post) and a Tory leadership that would like to freeze public sector jobs as they become vacant.

Over the last few years I have often been critical of the target driven, central control exerted by the Government through the Department of Health. But at the same time there has been progress, and while I  might not think this if I was still nursing at the bedside, I do believe that Commissioners can be a good thing. “She would say that” I hear you cry. Well of course as I am one. But having people out there who ask doctors, nurses, midwives, therapists and other clinicians why they do what they do in the way that they do it can only be healthy. The idea of leaving “front line staff” to get on with what they apparently “know what to do best” is frankly scary. I am now just plain scared that on 7th May I will awake to Dave preparing to move to Downing street. I am scared mainly that this will be followed by a large amount of ‘throwing the commissioning baby out with the bathwater’ to save money.

We do need challenge and we do need people to wonder if services are being provided with the patient rather than the practitioner in mind. We do need to make sure that value for money is being thought about because in my experience not everyone treats public money in the way they would their own. Or maybe on second thoughts they do which is why the country and many individuals are in quite so much debt.

Back to the drawing board…….

On the way back

It’s been a long interlude, but to be honest I needed it. I have often come close to posting, but then stopped myself. There’s so much I’d like to be able to say about work, about the current mess the NHS is once again in, but to be honest it is hard to do that without wanting to get carried away and say things that could be regretted. Having said that, my break means there is a better chance than average of finding a few things to talk about here – both to do with work and home. Bear with me, and I’ll have something to add later!

Managing upwards

buckstopsHaving no team to manage is often a blessing. I have to admit that I have had very few people reporting to me who have been troublesome, and the stories I hear from colleagues about the workshy, the incompetent, the people discovered working while off sick and so on are just that. I have had a few difficult staff; one who tended to cry during our one to ones without good reason, one who appeared to do little work and hated to be challenged about why this was the case and another when I was a district nurse who couldn’t understand why 4 inch heels might not have been a good idea. Dealing with people in these situations can be tricky, and what is more managing poor performance in the NHS doesn’t seem to be easily resolved – there is a balance of power that appears to lean more towards the rights of the individual than those of management or organisation.

What is really difficult though is managing a manager who is less than brilliant at their job and who while working their notice has stopped turning up to do the things they are meant to do. It is difficult when colleagues from other organisations know what is happenening and pass comment. Even worse, more senior colleagues know what is going on, they talk about it, but they do nothing about it. What kind of message does that send out – it is ok to be workshy and bordering on incompetent so long as you have found yourself another job and are going to be leaving soon.

Personally, as a person (along with others) put in this position, I would rather not be at work either, it would make my life easier. I am no shirker however, I also won’t completely avoid a difficult situation and so I will carry on doing my work, with my head firmly down. All we can hope is the next person to inhabit that job is better at it than the previous encumbant.

On another more positive note, can I draw your attention to the latest installment of the brilliant Blog Carnival Change of Shift, which can be found over at Emergiblog. This week’s edition contains some great nursing posts!



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