I have been fortunate recently to have received some of the best care and attention the NHS has to give. Despite my own personal drain on its meagre resources (and wouldn’t a £350m injection be simply delicious?), it made it to a 70th birthday it should be proud of.
The ward experience of the NHS seems to me to make it a shades of organisation …. uniforms that are blue for the nurses – although my matron (is that what she’s called?) was wearing grey and red – then greens and whites and creams … and for the pharmacists and doctors, no particular colours, or often even uniform. If you’re lucky, you work out what they do from their lanyard, or a hurried introduction. When they’re not in scrubs of course – the trump card. But then so many staff seemed to be wearing them on the ward there seemed little confidence in saying with conviction that they belonged to surgery or theatre or recovery or any one of a multitude of other departments.
But outward dress is for show. It’s what’s inside that counts.
And during my stay I witnessed something rather wonderful from the crew that came to take over for the night shift.
Old timers in beds opposite me sighed with relief … ”now we’ll be alright because X is on” – with X being a nurse anyone would want caring for them.
He smiled, he made jokes, he had a sense of rush about his business, he cared (cheese sandwich at 10 o’clock at night? No problem). He helped people who couldn’t walk very well to find the shower room; in the middle of the night he asked if you wanted a helping hand in case you were a bit shaky; he apologised most profusely for having to wake you up to do your obs; he got his sleeves rolled up and got stuck in, leading the way for his team to see and to follow, as a result of which, when he had to ask them to go and count an item of surgical equipment in a storeroom, they did it with good will.
I watched this leader carefully. I guessed that he behaved as he did every day he was at work, despite budget cuts, the pressure of constantly being asked to do more with less, and, let’s face it, the occasional ungrateful patient (there was a very vocal one in the bed next to me).
I am humbled by this man’s motivation and commitment. And, amazing leadership.