I have realised that we don’t have a National Health Service. We have a regional one. Its only since I’ve been a locum and worked in 3 different counties that I’ve realised this. What do I mean? Well let’s take admitting a patient into hospital for a start. Each hospital has its own rules for admitting a patient. Some have a GP hotline, some have a switchboard may or may not answer and when they do they can’t find the doctor you are looking for, and some have their own team who negotiate on your behalf with the admitting doctor. I don’t get it. How hard can it be to have a common admission pathway to hospital? Very hard it seems. In the end you get fed up trying to work out what’s going on and the patient gets bounced to A+E with a letter.
What about paperwork? Each hospital has its own paperwork to be filled in, different colour schemes and boxes to be ticked. Is it too much to ask to have one set of universal notes? They would look the same for every hospital and could be easily read through, filled in and relevant section found? Far too sensible. Each hospital has to have its own identity so someone somewhere in an office can justify their salary. Universal notes would save on stationary costs, improve patient care (as everyone knows where everything is) and you could even audit things easier if you were so inclined. Hell, if every hospital stuck to this you could even begin to attempt to computerise it. There could even be a standardised admission letter that GPs could use so the admitting doctor could read our ineligible scrawls.
Mind you I can’t be too critical of different hospital records seeing as I have had to train in 5 different electronic record systems to be a GP locum. Some of the systems I’ve used a truly rubbish, God only knows why the GPs use them.
I could rant about postcode lotteries for health care but everyone knows about those. I’m talking about what goes on behind the scenes. Nurses needing to retrain when they move hospitals because one hospitals certificate aren’t valid in another hospital. New doctors not having the faintest idea how to fill in requests for tests as every hospital does it differently. TTO forms that vary from place to place with varying information filled in. Getting everyone to agree on all this would be a nightmare. But then that’s where politicians come in, so we can blame them if it all goes wrong.
I read that it’s the ambition of Labour and Conservative that every hospital becomes a Foundation trust (worked well for Mid Staffordshire?). With this of course it would mean a rebranding of each hospital. New signs, new letterheads, new everything. That will not be cheap, and surely some of that money could be better spent ensuring the smooth running of the hospitals and the staff that work there. You might even improve patient care, but that’s not my main concern, I just want an easy life.