Friday, 2 July 2010

Dark ages for the NHS

I was listening to a phone conversation yesterday. The person on my end of the line was asking about someone we both know who is in hospital. The first question was is she on the ward. I was only half-listening but it seemed to take a long time and there was still no answer. I think the person on the other end of the line was using a computer, because I know there are boards on the wall that tell you the names of the people on the ward and it also tells you which bed they occupy.

The delay continued and I was thinking that this person could not see the board, however I did feel that it would have been much easier to shout out the person's name and see if anyone answered. I was busy otherwise I would have suggested a phone call back to the hospital in a few minutes to see if they knew where their patient was. I said nothing and after what may have been ten minutes we discovered her whereabouts.

This is not an example of human error making computers look bad. I mentioned in a recent blog that someone I know had taken early retirement because a new generation of software had slowed down her ability to make appointments. Everyone was at best uncomfortable with the new system and at worst it was a cause for anger. This is the age of the computer and everyone can find out anything. However it is not that long ago that patients were known by name. Now we are lucky to know the doctor by name. Now we are lucky if staff who work on a ward know their patients. Why do I think that in many ways we are back in the dark ages?

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1 comment:

  1. I bumped into someone I used to work with this morning. She tells me everyone who works there is fed up with the way appointments are given out. If that is the staff talking you may wonder what the patients are saying. NHS managers may go into great details about patterns of appointments, how many appointments patients receive. How long it takes to discharge patients and patterns from one clinician to another. what is missing is the cost to the service. Is this an example of distance micromanagement gone mad?