Yesterday, we took a widowed friend of ours to the hospital to be seen by her consultant following a hip-replacement operation which she had had there a few weeks ago. It was not the first time I had visited the hospital as we had been to see her a couple of days after the operation, but I remain impressed by the cleanliness and orderliness of the hospital as compared with our local NHS hospitals.
Firstly, the original operation. She went in on a Friday morning and the plan was that she would have the operation later the same day. Unfortunately, for some reason it was not carried out (a problem in the theatre), but unlike the NHS, she wasn't sent home without explanation and told another booking would be made, they kept her in and in due course carried out the operation starting at 8.00 on Sunday morning. One wonders when was the last time the NHS carried out a so-called non urgent operation on a Sunday.
Visiting her after surgery, a nurse escorted us to her room, first checking that she was awake and able to receive visitors, and when the afternoon tea came round we were offered the same as the patient.
Yesterday, at outpatients, there seemed to be an air of efficiency; compared with our local NHS outpatients it was peaceful but at the same time a hive of activity; there were not dozens of staff wandering aimlessly about, no the need to book in twice, once at the main outpatients reception and again at the particular clinic. The place was tidy, and if anyone, for example, left a magazine on a chair when going, one of the receptionists would tidy it up immediately. The appointment was for 2.00 pm, and exactly to the second (I happened to be looking at the clock) the consultant came in, found her, exchanged a few pleasantries with us all, and took her off to his room. We had a coffee each whilst we waited. A cup of very nice coffee, served nicely on a tray and with a jug of milk and two shortbread biscuits cost £1.20 a cup, better than Starbucks! Oh and the car park was free with no problem in finding a space although the hospital is within walking distance of the town centre.
Now I'm not saying that all NHS hospitals can be like this, but one thing that struck me was the whole air of quiet efficiency, the absence of (administrative) drones and the feeling that the staff were really there to help the patients. There was a lot that the NHS could emulate without running up a huge bill in the process.
And as a matter of interest, our friend's operation was paid for by the NHS; they had failed to provide the operation within the specified time from when she first saw the consultant, and thus, admittedly under pressure, they paid the costs for private treatment.