Friday, 15 February 2013

A Few More F Words...

More than one of my blog readers has questioned whether the posting time of my blogs is in real time or the product of some kind of automatic posting programme. Well I can reassure them that my blog is written live on Sunday mornings, and when completed, it is immediately posted. The more sharp eyed of readers will see that this week’s blog has been posted on a Friday night. The reason being is that this weekend I am back up in my favourite part of the UK, Scotland. There is no internet access, hence the earlier posting.

Well there are nearly 400 pages, 3 volumes and 290 recommendations in the Francis Inquiry into the catastrophic and tragic events at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust.  Unsurprisingly, the first recommendation is that patients must come first, with care delivered by caring, committed and compassionate staff working within a common culture. According to Francis the Mid-Staff's Trust Board was weak and chose not listen to patients and staff or ensure that concerns were adequately addressed. It did not tackle the tolerance of poor standards and the disengagement of senior clinical staff from managerial and leadership responsibilities. The Board were too focused on reaching targets, achieving financial balance and seeking Foundation Trust status at the expense of acceptable standards of care.

Zero tolerance should be the new standard. And it appears the Knight in Shining Armour charged with ensuring this is the case is one Donald Berwick. He has an impressive pedigree. Obama appointed him as an advisor on health care in the US, and he has held many senior jobs in health care related industries, including Medicare and Medicaid in the US. If you want to see Donald speak about his experience he is speaking at a conference London, 16-19 April 2013, for a knock down price of just £1500. Nice work if you can get it – I am sure he is worth every penny.

Berwick studied the management of health care systems, with emphasis on using scientific methods and evidence based medicine and comparative effectiveness research to improve the tensions involved in balancing quality, safety and costs. Interestingly back in the 1920s, it was Frederick Winslow Taylor who originally devised a system he called scientific management and approach in which he tried to apply science to organisational management. However in doing so, he forgot that organisations are actually made up of people and  his ideas fell  out of favour by the 1960s – well at least until now that is.

Wythenshawe Hospital in South Manchester know about how to look after and protect people. This week they put up the following Fox Alert notice in the main entrance of their maternity unit: The unit has received reports of a fox in the main maternity entrance area which should not be approached. Please do not feed the fox. Please report any incidents to ward staff. A hospital spokesman said humane traps were being set to catch the fox.

And maternity care was the subject of much celebration here last week. Our Midwives celebrated a number of achievements, gaining the UNICEF Baby Friendly award and further additions to our Birth Rites Art Collection. The winner of the Art of Midwifery competition was Just Five More Minutes (see above) – but I also liked Waterbirth for its evocative lines and colours. 

Finally, I was with a large group of family, friends and former colleagues gathered at Walton Lee Crematorium today to pay our respects and say goodbye to Dave. As one of my friends said, we were wishing him a speedy motor bike ride to his next destination. The eulogies were warm, touching, funny, and captured so perfectly the wonderful contribution he made to the lives of so many people. Dave, you will be missed.