Saturday, June 18, 2011

Doctors & Hearts: Sunday reading for David Cameron!

When I was growing up, the Traditional Chinese Doctor was possibly the most respected person a child was ever going to meet. More so than his teacher, grand parents, or parents.    

In the unfortunate event of a child having a fever and needing to visit a doctor, he would be taken to the consulting room of a Traditional Chinese Doctor. The room was generally sparsely equipped, with a redwood consulting desk in the middle, set with some calligraphy brushes, an ink well and Chinese rice paper. On the wall behind the doctor you could expect a giant calligraphy piece extolling his skills – literally translated as “kind heart, kind skills”. On another wall there would perhaps be a Chinese water-colour with a theme relating to doctoring. Doctors were said to have the “heart of mothers and fathers”.

This is a Chinese painting that used to hang in my consulting room. The Chinese characters can be translated as "the warmth of spring in almond groves". In the Chinese tradition, "almond groves" signify medicine, originating from a Chinese legend of a doctor who lived in the Three Kingdoms era. Instead of paying him, his patients were asked to plant almond trees, five for a serious illness cured, and one for a minor ailment and so on. Both the painter and calligrapher were leading figures in the literary/art world of their times.

Doctors have the heart of mothers and fathers everywhere.

How true this is for most doctors. Sometimes they do literally have the patient’s heart too as this Guardian Blog shows.

This little paragraph says it all!!!

The best doctors find this just as frustrating as patients do. One consultant used to have a system where patients suffering sudden relapses and needing urgent attention could ring his secretary direct and be seen within 24 hours. Hospital administrators now demand that all such cases are referred, much more slowly, through GPs. A dedicated cancer consultant sometimes has to postpone clinic sessions because he is attending research meetings at three or four weeks' notice. His secretary used to phone the 10 patients involved individually to apologise, explain and ask when they would like to re-book. That is now banned. His request to cancel a clinic has to be referred to four layers of management before a clipped official hospital letter goes out informing patients of the change.

If David Cameron and Andrew Lansley want us to believe that they have listened and change they will have to do more.

Private involvement must be outlawed.

Internal Market must be abolished.

We doctors and nurses given half the chance do know what to do for our patients. We really do. I have done it myself and I have seen others do it.

Honestly introducing competition and choice will not improve things.

You have tens years of Scotland NHS as a good example:

Research co-author Dr Peter Samuel said: “Although partnerships are found elsewhere in the public sector, NHS Scotland’s stands out as distinct and novel. It has survived for over a decade, defying reorganisation and changes in administrations, and it can offer valuable lessons in how to improve industrial relations.

………Dr Samuel said: “The policymakers of NHS Scotland clearly concluded the only way to deliver better healthcare was to improve the way staff were engaged. This led to the establishment of various structures at national and local levels to give staff more say in decisions affecting their working lives and healthcare provision.
Allowing Private Sector into the NHS will only take away more of the little money we have for the NHS. I know they love the NHS too, but for a different reason.

Doctors do have the heart of mothers and fathers. So should you.

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