Last Friday I was talking to some of our mental health students who were on placement at Greater Manchester West Mental Health Trust (fondly known by many as Prestwich Hospital). The conversation took me back to my time there. I arrived at Prestwich Hospital in June 1984. I was there to commission and manage the first and only NHS Forensic Adolescent Unit. I stayed at the hospital for the next 11 years, leaving to go and work at Manchester Metropolitan University. It was great to be able to talk about the many changes in service provision that I had been part of – and it was somewhat sobering to stop and think that some of these students hadn't even been born when I started working at Prestwich. Made feel slightly old.
A bit like my faithful Toshiba Portage Lap Top computer. I really liked my little Toshiba. It had accompanied me all over the world and has served me well, and has never let me down. It was light and easy to use, had a fantastic memory and was almost grandchild proof. It just fitted onto those fold down tables in trains and planes, and sat snugly in the space between the front seats of my car, turning all into a mobile office. However, it reached computer old age. The battery started to run out after 45 mins, and many of the letter keys were blank, the letters long gone, worn away through many hours of use. So reluctantly I had to start the journey to replace my wonderfully compact computer.
The University are trialling the Surface Pro tablet (there are other tablets to available) and so I chose to go with one of these. It arrived last week and was set up while I was out of the office, a week ago last Friday. I didn't have time to get to grips with it then so last Monday there it was sitting on my desk ready and waiting to be used. And so it stayed for 2 days. It was a busy start to the week and I simply didn't feel I had time to learn how to use a new computer. Day 3 I felt I had to make an effort and tried to log on, only to find the computer said No!
However, by Friday I was beginning to feel better about the new computer, but although it does more than my little Toshiba, I really missed the old machine. I guess like many of us, I was stressed out by the unfamiliar and the comfort of my habitas. In my heart of hearts I knew it was the right thing to do, but taking a step into a new digital world, and with it a new way of working, was a little daunting. Some of us can find managing and / or coping with change very difficult.
And so it seems might also be the case for some of those who often exhort the rest of us to change – change our life style, what it is we eat, drink or smoke – I'm talking about doctors, who can often find it difficult to change their own lives despite advising others to do so. Last week, Steve Miller, a qualified hypnotherapist called on the NHS to get tough on overweight GPs as part of his campaign to help the UK resolve its obesity crisis. He was proposing that NHS doctors should have an annual health MOT to see if they are maintaining a healthy body weight themselves.
Miller suggested that if any NHS doctor fails the test they should be put on a regime to lose weight. If they refuse he also suggested they should face disciplinary action including being sacked. With the NHS facing a shortage of some 10000 GPs and with 25% of GP places not being filled each year, I am not sure this is such a great solution. The Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS FT had what I thought was a much better approach. Over the last year they have taken part in the Global Corporate Challenge which challenged organisations to get staff to take 10000 steps a day for 100 days. They ended up being the 4th highest performing health care organisation in the world with 75 teams across the Trust taking part and improving their health, weight and wellbeing.
In terms of high performing organisations I was very pleased to see that Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh FT was the Acute Trust runner up in this years Best Companies Group 120 top performing NHS organisations awards. They were 2nd in the 'Top 10 Places to Work' category. I’m a Non Executive Director in the Trust and I’m immensely proud of the way WWL has worked hard at gaining staff engagement focused upon constant improvement in providing safe, effective and caring services. Likewise I felt really privileged to spend some time with colleagues last week who were working through what our new nursing programme will look like this time next year. Hearing the passion in the way the many suggestions, questions were presented around how to better prepare our nurses to be competent, compassionate and caring practitioners filled my head and heart with great confidence and pride.
I wasn't feeling very caring on Friday evening, however. Arriving at the House in Scotland, it was like a scene from Watership Down. The rabbits that have taken up residence in the front garden, and who gave birth to baby rabbits a couple of weeks ago, were all laying on the lawns enjoying the early evening sunshine. Things will have to change, and this is one change I won’t worry about at all!