Former NHS Nurse and manager now contemplating the NHS from outside

Archive for the ‘Homelife’ Category

The first week

So a week has passed and to be honest it has felt like I am on holiday from work. In fact, I have not had a full week off since last autumn, as I have tended to take a couple of days here and there to make long weekends etc. I was surprised by just how tired I was, but not having had a break and having been involved in a very protracted and stressful HR process it is not surprising.

Of course, I have not spent the week being idle, that really isn’t me. Nor have I yet worked out how to sleep in past about 7am, perhaps that is healthy since I am not finished with work by any stretch of the imagination. The first thing I did last Friday was to buy myself a new laptop; a MacBook to be exact. I am now converted to Apple, last year I got my first iPhone, for Christmas an iPad and now I have the full set. I had to get some kind of computer since my previous laptop died a few weeks ago and I had been using my work one. That and my Blackberry were returned last week. So now I have just one phone rather than two, and I am getting myself set up for some home working.

I have watched the news coverage of the NHS changes with a kind of detached interest this week. All of a sudden the news channels and papers other than the Guardian work up to some of the issues of the new NHS. Things like the conflict of interest that GPs have faced for years, but are only just being challenged about. Like the fact that many of them have shares in the companies that they commission to provide services. Then there is the role of the NHS Commissioning Board, now renamed NHS England (we did laugh last week when colleagues who have jobs with them discovered the rebrand). How will this highly centralised organisation carry out the job of performance managing the CCGs? Nothing has yet been said about the Commissioning Support Units and the duplication that their existence will surely bring about. Or about the fact that most of the hated managers still retain places within the CCGs, often they are the accountable officer rather than a GP. No one has yet asked, who is really in charge here? Does the balance of power really lie with clinicians or does it lie in Leeds and their various Local Teams. All of these questions will no doubt be asked in the future.

For me, well my week has been filled, as promised with some reading, some retail therapy, some resting up and pottering around the house. I have made a start on sorting the spare room, but need to replace the chest of drawers in there with a desk. I need to buy a printer as my lovely son has claimed the family one and it currently resides in a house in a university town. I have seen my financial advisor about investing my lump sum, but NHS pension hasn’t produced any actual money yet so there isn’t actually anything to invest. The PCT was late in offering me this option and therefore the forms were completed at the last-minute. The lady in payroll who deals with pensions told me on Tuesday that they had been very tricky to work with. I have updated my CV with the final bits that say that my job ended in March 2013 and I have updated my Linkedin profile with the same. I have arranged my first bit of paid work for next month and am expecting to hear about some more work in the next week or so. I need to complete an application to NHS professionals for another piece of work and I need to send my CV out to a few people. Work then for next week!

So at the end of week one, I feel a little more alert, a little more rested and a little more ready to face whatever is ahead.

Seeking closure and embracing new opportunities

It is only two days since I ceased to be employed in the NHS and I know that it will take a little longer for my mind to defog and my brain to clear. The main thing for me right now is the amazing tiredness I feel. On one hand I want to do so much with my free time, I want to sort out the spare room and make it in to some kind of office space – I have brought home a load of personal and also kind of work related stuff that I think will be useful in the future. I also want to have a bit of a spring clean around the house, I want to declutter and I also want to do some fun things. I want to organise trips away. I am also mindful that I will need to work at some point soon, so I have some work to do in following up contacts and preparing for work.

Usually, I find myself rushing around, doing a bit of this and a bit of that. Rushing to complete things over the weekend or during a few days off. I am aware that this is different. I no longer need to rush anywhere, to complete everything in double quick time. I am also aware that I do feel weary as I said above.

I need to spend some time right now reflecting on what has happened, thinking about the process that I was involved in. A process that started with me feeling incredibly hopeful that I would get a job and a good one at that and ended with me being made redundant. I hope to use this blog to help in that process. I have been a poor blogger for a couple of years now. Firstly it was because I was unhappy in my commissioning job, then too busy in my new cancer network job and then because I feared saying something which could ultimately get me into trouble with my employers.

This morning, there is lots on the news programmes about the various changes that have come into force in both the NHS, in welfare and in local government. I feel I should be able to say some profound things about all of this, today, indeed right now. But actually I don’t think I can.

I am going to take a few days. I am going to read a book or two. I am going to get back to reading  some of the blogs around and about, and update my blogroll here. I am going to start sorting out the spare room and I am going to look around the shops. After all a girl is entitled to retail therapy when she has been made redundant!

Then in a few days, as my brain and my mind begins to clear I will write about the past and about the future. I will talk generally about my take on how things are in the NHS and also about my role in it (if I am to have one). I am not meant to work for the NHS for a month. I don’t think that will be a problem for me.

My first day has started a bit strangely. I was happily blogging, sitting up in bed when the phone rang. My son who went off to visit and stay with friends yesterday called to say he was on the train and could I pick him up shortly. I found myself scraping the ice off my car at 7.30am; not the way I expected to start my first day of freedom!

Kindle or actual book?

For Christmas I received a Kindle from hubby, along with a lovely leather cover with light for reading from my son. when these electronic book devices started appearing a couple of years ago I insisted that I would never convert. I love the feel of a real book, I love turning the pages, holding it and also love trawling bookshops for something new.

When I go on holiday though, I have been known to take half a dozen books with me. There have been occasions that I have forgone articles of clothing or shoes for books. I have packed them into my hand luggage and bought more at the airport. This has to be madness if there is an alternative.

When I went on a coach trip to Germany recently I looked over the kindle of my friend Sue and decided that this was a good idea for ease when travelling and subsequently made my request. I have to admit that I quite like my new toy, even if I do feel a bit guilty every time I turn it on that I might be putting printing companies out of work. I love the way you can download a sample of a book and I like the way you can turn the page forwards and backwards so easily. I also like the fact that you can enlarge the text (I know I need to get the optician to review my contacts but until then..)  I am less keen  that I never know quite what page I am on, instead I know what percentage of the book I have read. But I am willing to give the whole thing a go. Today I have downloaded a couple of travel guides for my upcoming trip to the States. I think this is going to be great for checking out things to do and places to go on the go! We shall see.

Its been a long time

Over two months to be precise. Since my last post in April the NHS has paused so that the NHS Health and Social Care Bill can be properly consulted on. Sadly it looks like there will be little significant difference to the way in which health services will be commissioned and provided. Andrew Lansley’s legislation continues its slow and painful process through Parliament and PCT employees not already redundant or moved await their fate. I on the other hand have taken a small step towards safety. In a bit over a month I will start a secondment with our local Cancer Network, I am taking a job with responsibility for improving the quality of cancer services. This is a pretty tall order, but will be an interesting challenge. I hope that this secondment will lead to something permanent once the future of Clinical Networks are secured.

In other news my son will soon be off to California to study at Pitzer College for a year. He is excited and I am excited for him.  It will feel pretty strange though to have him so far away.

The NHS pause, a general feeling of malaise with my current job and some family health troubles have prevented me from feeling inclined to post to my blog. Guess what though? I am now feeling more inclined to write more and I’ll be back soon!


Apologies for my absense. Several times over the last few weeks I have thought of a blog post that I might want to write and post, but something (not entirely sure what) has stopped me. The question is – am I just lazy? Is it just that the obsession to score over 100,000 on bejewled blitz on facebook was too great? Or am I just an ordinary person who from time to times loves blogging then needs an interlude of several weeks for a break from it all?

This month has been a big one for our small family. My teenage son, Matt has gone off to University and I have discovered just what empty nest syndrome feels like. In some ways, and to an outsider it feels much the same as before, after all it is not that he didn’t go out a lot (that boy has a social life to be proud of) but it is very odd that a house where the teenager is just out for the evening and one where he is currently living elsewhere feels different. Hubby and I are enjoying food that is slightly different – teen son isn’t fond of fish and I have cooked more fish than for years. But actually I like him here and I like cooking food that he likes. Ok so his now tidy and clean room has remained so for over a week, but I like to hear myself grumble about the state of it and he say that it is fine!

Yesterday we vMum's 70th 047isited to take the printer that he said he didn’t need, but now does. His room had been hastily tidied and apparently he had shown a hoover to the floor! He has new posters on the wall and his dirty clothes were in the linen basket thing I bought him rather than on the floor. He is managing well, cooking for himself and learning how to budget. He is enjoying living with other teenagers in the flat they share on campus, he continues his good and varied social life and claims not to have been too drunk. His schedule is not all that busy, but he says he has lots to do; indeed he has a to list on the wall – very organised. However on Saturday he popped up on facebook and asked me why I wasn’t at work. It is Saturday I said. “oh Yeah!” says he!!

So my plans for the coming few weeks – On Wednesday we are off on holiday for a week – to France! Yipee. On my return I plan to change the name of this blog – to something more about life in general when you are middle aged (but feel pretty young inside) and need to get yourself into some kind of gear for the coming weeks, months and years. Watch this space, I will return!!

Things to do when it is snowing in the UK

The UK and particularly the southern part of the country is not really used to this kind of weather incident. I kid you not, that is exactly what I heard a weather operative (forcaster / presenter) call the snow this morning. Meanwhile a BBC journalist was seen standing outside a saltmine in Northern Ireland and a Sky reporter was seen outside of one some where in England. The weather has led to some bizarre reporting. I have decided to wait for a lull in the blizzard before I set off for work, plus I have cheekily decided to take lunch at 9.30 and get an early hair cut. Therefore you are getting a post of things you can do when it snows here in the UK. This will be followed by some things you can’t do.

My favorite thing to do today would be to sit on your sofa drinking coffee and surfing the net. The place to go to get a range of great nursing stories is Change of Shift Take my advice and get over to Keith’s place Digital Doorway. You could do worse!

Keeping to the theme of sitting down, you could watch TV. As I speak a range of great news programmes are available and it is fun to see the presenters standing in the snow, looking freezing cold, telling us what we can see out of the window – it is snowing

If you would rather immerse yourself in another world then you can do worse than to read a book. I am reading a great book by Barbara Wood at the moment. The Dreaming is set in Victorian Austrailia when much of the country was a mystereous place to the white man.

You could put on your hat, scarf and coat and go off for a walk, you can also throw snowballs and you can do sledging. Be careful though, I heard on the radio that there are gangs of youths in the streets of the uk throwing snow balls in an unpleasant way. This could lead to an arrest. You also need to take care when sledging as this week sadly a young girl was killed following this persuit.

Make soup or a stew or something. This is the kind of pursuit our grandparents would have favoured, though of course all winters were like this one and people had less heating in their houses then. My hubby was very impressed yesterday that I gave him stew with dumplings, and therefore he is obviously easily pleased.

What you mustn’t do if you listen to the doom mungerers is to leave your house by car – conditions are terrible, and indeed they are since no one has been gritting our roads round here. Apparently they may have run low. Someone from the council needs to visit a salt mine! What you also can’t really do is walk on the pavements. Snow, thaw, ice, snow, thaw, ice etc has caused everyone to fear walking the streets. Also you can’t do much shopping in the town here. Yesterday I found that a number of town centre shops were closed all day. Lack of staff to work there? Later this month retail sales will have fallen and everyone will blame the snow. Perhaps if staff went to work they might sell something? Who knows. Lastly if you are a school student or a teacher, don’t bother with school as it will be closed. My son has now missed 4 days of schooling in what is the most important final year. Even he would like to attend school now please!

So there you have it, an assessment by Julie of what to do and what to do when snow falls in the UK!

Normal life is suspended

snowmenThe last time I personally saw as much snow as this I was within a hospital building, confined as I awaited the birth of my son. 18 years ago I didn’t have to negotiate ungritted roads and pavements. I didn’t need to spend hours in traffic in my car and I didn’t worry about school closures. I don’t know if in 1991 people gave up on work before they tried to go in, I don’t know if trains and buses were cancelled, I don’t know if health and safety issues kept schools closed.

In my particular town we have had about 3 days or nights of snow. On sunday several inches fell and it was very cold. The UK is apparantly not set up for this kind of thing. We only get snow round here on one or two days each year, and even then if often doesn’t last till lunch time; much to the disappointment of children and their sledges. This year the whole winter has been more severe, therfore if we were ever going to get significant snow it was going to be this winter. On Tuesday when I went to work the main roads were fine. The smaller roads in a town centre area where my place of work is were pretty much an ice rink, people were skidding into the kerb of a large roundabout. Having parked my car in the car park (I was amazed later to find it was actually between two white lines) I then had to negotiate some seriously treaturous pavements. The only place gritting had taken place was by a department store and my office building next door (oh yes folks I work right next to a John Lewis, and that is a story to tell one day!)

Schools were cancelled for 2 days and again today. My husband has so far worked a one day week. But children have had a good time, learning in a different way. Parents have taken days off work and actually spent time with them playing in that snow. On Tuesday morning as I drove slowly along my road a car passed in the opposite direction and the driver actually smiled at me. People walking along the pavements appear to be concerned about each other.

So my assessment is that yes it is mad that we can’t cope with a bit of snow. But if it means that people are nicer to each other for a day or two, if parents spend quality time actually playing with their children then I can’t see how the economy will be poorer in real terms.


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