In rude health…

This week’s blog by necessity is slightly shorter than usual due to a scheduled encounter with the NHS. However it was a good opportunity to observe first hand the largest organisation in the UK, and the following are some random unscientific thoughts from a paid up member of enterprise Britain.

The patient facing staff are by and large amazing. When you think of all they have to put up with (including a stream of agency staff who cost multiples of what they earn coming in to plug frequent staff shortages) their attitude and willingness is impressive. The NHS is fundamentally a people business and it is good to see that people skills are there in abundance.

I am amazed though at the number of people who appear to be employed by the NHS that wander aimlessly around NHS premises. I am guessing they are employees (or contractors) as they have all the accoutrements of employment such as uniforms, passes and keys. I am sure that they have valuable roles but they don’t appear to be patient facing so it is difficult to work out what they are actually doing.

£20 a day for parking is totally unacceptable as the people who invariably have to pay it are those who are receiving the more serious treatment. It is something that particularly penalises parents with hospitalised children who of course are going to stay with their offspring as long as possible. Yes I know that you can ask the nursing staff for a reduction but I suspect they (and you) will feel that dealing with such trivialities is not really a good use of their time.

During this short engagement with the NHS important paperwork went walkabouts twice. This led to us waiting around for many hours. The speed of the pharmacy in fulfilling prescriptions left a lot to be desired. The catering also seemed unable to cope with the diets required by the patients following their operations which meant that relatives had to run down to the M&S café to get the correct post-operative food.

This lack of joined up back office support is the one area that stands out. I think part of the problem of any public sector entity (or any large organisation for that matter) is a budget fixation. The belief that there is not enough tends to create a “can’t do” rather than a “can do” attitude.

Entrepreneurial small and medium sized business know that if they want a budget to do something they have to create it, normally by selling either products and services to customers or a bright future with great cash returns to investors.

Part of me would like to work in the NHS one day. It would be a fascinating challenge and an opportunity to make a real difference. But I know it would not be easy and you have to respect those that have to deal with that challenge every day of their working lives.

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