Anyone who follows this blog will know that, to say the very least, I am no fan of ‘Cure the NHS’ and allied complaint-groups (I won’t say ‘campaign’, as it’s not really appropriate). I consider most of them damaging, short-sighted, blinkered (not a good combination) and all too eager for the media attention their complaints bring them. And the way they respond to any dissent or criticism amply illustrates their real psychology and motivations.
I came across this gem the other day, whose author has kindly given consent for me to share it with you. It’s not blindly uncritical of the NHS in general nor of Stafford hospital in specific (just as I’m not, though I’m often accused of that and many other things by those who can’t be bothered to actually read), but it’s one of the best encapsulations of the whole unrealistic, egocentric attitude that underlies many of the complaints that are often treated by the national media as if they are gospel.
You can find the whole, unedited original here (link removed at author’s request) – but here’s the full text ever-so-slightly edited by me for the sake of young readers or those offended by very direct language:
“Cure the NHS” – get a ****ing grip
I’m getting increasingly p***ed off with this post-Staffs pressure group.
Mid Staffs delivered some sh*te and unacceptable care, no doubt. But it’s also true that a lot of the claims seen in the media were utter bullsh*t.
The 59 gazillion unnecessary deaths was a flagrant misuse of HSMR, either due to reckless ignorance of how it works or irresponsible attraction to hyperbole. Same applies to the excess deaths in the Keogh report hospitals.
The ‘patients drinking from flower vases’ because they were denied water was shot to sh*t by the fact that vases had been banned on the wards for almost a decade. Could it have happened? Yes, it could, if friends/relatives had brought a vase in, and the patient was suffering from dementia or otherwise confused. Was it something that lucid patients were commonly caused to do, as presented? Was it bollocks.
As I said above, Mid Staffs was failing patients. I’ve seen no one deny that. I’ve visited elderly relatives who have been in crap hospitals/wards*. It’s really unpleasant to see someone you love, in distress, being treated with such a lack of compassion – even when the clinical boxes are being ticked. These days I’d know how to do something about it. But back then I was in the position of most relatives, with no knowledge of the NHS monolith and worried about making things worse by complaining.
So… I understand their anger, and I think it’s entirely justified. But at the same time, the media presentation and thus public perception of Mid Staffs has fuck all to do with reality.
So a pressure group on the issue of quality care isn’t a bad thing, in itself. The CQC have made f*** all difference, so someone else may as well have a go.
But why do they present everything with such a sanctimonious attitude, without at least asking some of the people that do the job first?
Some recent examples from some of their leading lights:
- “I am not bed five, my name is Kate!
- Yes Kate, it is. But nurses constantly have confidentiality protocols drummed into them. These protocols have been put in place because of patient complaints. So, unless they are addressing you directly, they are obliged to avoid using your name and to refer to you as bed five.You’re having a strop because nurses are doing what they’ve been told to do, which they’ve been told to do because patients have complained when they’ve done otherwise.
- Some tips for nurses – “Touch is comforting reassurance for many patients, e.g. hand holding”
- Yes it is. And for others, it’s a gross invasion of privacy.
This sh** just ain’t that simple, and extrapolating that because it’s how you’d like to be treated doesn’t mean it’s how your next door neighbour would like to be treated.
It’s all delivered in such a sanctimonious way, as though nurses are all as thick as pigsh** and it will all come as some sort of revelation. And tellingly, those who raise any dissent are accused of being part of some sort of conspiracy to bully them in to silence. Skwawkbox, which exposed the misuse of HSMR long before Prof Jarmen started talking about it, is apparently in league with satan.
Badly written rant over. I needed that though -ta.
*Even in a good hospital different wards can have very different cultures and sets of values. So even in a good hospital, you can have crap wards. And vice versa. And It’s 99.9% down to the matron and senior sister. Others follow their lead. The longer I spend working in the NHS, the more important I think that nursing leadership is.
The ‘bed five’ comment in particular is a perfect example of how unrealistic, self-obsessed and ill-informed many such ‘campaigners’ and their complaints are. Losing a loved one is tragic and they have my sympathy. Being in hospital is scary and stressful. But neither experience makes someone an expert in patient care, medical procedures, cause of death etc. In fact, the whole stress and grief of these experiences means they’re often less able to be objective and reasonable.
Most of the media either doesn’t get that, or more likely chooses to ignore it. Our pseudonymous observer above clearly does, and for that s/he has my appreciation.
Edit: the ‘bed 5’ comment was actually a ‘bed 7’ comment on Twitter by a lady called Kate Granger, though I had no idea which ‘Kate’ was the source until just now (Saturday evening). She appears to be a perfectly nice person and is currently in hospital being treated for a serious illness. Her comment still evinces a lack of understanding of the reasons nurses might use ‘bed X’ instead of someone’s name, but there’s no reason to think her motives resemble those of Cure the NHS in any way.
What does reflect the Cure mentality, however, is the absolutely rabid and histrionic Twitter reaction of Cure supporters like self-proclaimed ‘modern leader’ Gary Walker and others. One person on Twitter suggested to me in reasonable terms that an amendment to the end of the article was appropriate, and that was enough. But Mr ‘Leader’ and his cronies’ melodramatic and libellous cries just made my point for me even more clearly anyway.