Friday, 4 July 2008

60 Years of the NHS

This year the NHS celebrates 60 years of care from 'cradle to the grave' for all. This care is by all intents and purpose FREE to all who use the service apart from contributions that we all make via National Insurance Payments but still cheap at at half the price! (as they say). What a vision Bevin must have had when he first set up the health care system, fondly known as the NHS ill health service.

During it's 60 years there have been dramatic changes and reforms, some for the better, some not, but I could not help but be a little incensed by Alan Johnson's latest ploy to make all health professionals work even harder than they do already. His latest idea is to reward nurses/midwives who smile and show compassion the most by creating some kind of competition between wards and departments. The idea being that whoever earns the most points gets some kind of bonus!! What a ludicrous idea and how condescending. Firstly, it smacks of sheer male arrogance and carries with it just a little hint of portraying the nurses/midwives who are predominately a female work force as just 'silly women' and the only skill they might have is to 'smile and be compassionate. What about doctors? or are they too sophisticated and too busy doing the real work of making diagnosises and wielding surgical knives to be able to smile and be compassionate?

Anyway, surely, being compassionate is part of being a health professional? and as for the 'smiley' bit - well - I agree that as midwives/nurses/doctors etc. then a friendly, warm open face is to be advised but I am not sure I would want a midwife just smiling at me through out the throes of a long painful, labour for example or if I had just been told that my unborn baby had some horrific defect that would make compatibility with life impossible. No, I would much prefer to be on the receiving end of the care of a midwife/nurse who was highly skilled in clinical aspects. Surely, this is what midwives/nurses should be rewarded for? our high level of knowledge and clinical expertise achieved after many years of education at degree level and then of course our experience and all the wealth of information this brings.

Come on Alan Johnson - find out what happens in the real world of the NHS and really help us make a difference, not just pay lip service to yet another idea which is not really new - is it?


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