Sunday, March 30, 2008

Hospital horrors

Over the past week or so I've been a regular visitor to South Tyneside hospital, visiting my father. He was admitted with an acute infection which occurred as a complication in his cancer treatment, which isn't that unusual. This week, it was discovered he has also contracted an MRSA infection on a wound. Fortunately it looks like he is reacting well to the treatment.

However, during my visiting I've been exposed to some of the harsh realities of our bright and modern hospital. Wards scrounging for dressings off other wards or using customised incontinence pads, pneumonia patients on general wards with patients at severe risk of infection and patients waiting hours for pain relief because of staff shortages.

This is supposed to be rich 21st Century Britain, not some broke third world country.

This is in no way a criticism of the staff on the shop floor. Most of them work incredibly hard and conscientiously, worthy of their salaries many times over. It would be easy to blame the problems on unions or privatisation, but the real responsibility lies in the command chain, in a management culture apparently distanced from the real work and needs on the ground.

Behind the headlines and photo ops of awards being won and targets being met there are real stories of suffering, caused by a management structure which goes all the way to government - which is failing patients, and possibly killing them.

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