The NHS can deliver a world class service

Magnetic Resonance Imaging scan of a head
Image via Wikipedia

Charing Cross Hospital MRI department shows how

Equipment in an imaging department is mega-expensive – so it seems incredible that UK hospitals can allow machinery to lie idle for  from Friday afternoon until Monday morning.  What is that doing to the balance sheet ?

As a US technician said, “we work our machines 24/7 – we need to get the benefit for the millions we spend”.

So when I needed an MRI scan to find my brain (well, Professor Guiloff phrased it more tactfully) I expected a long, long wait.  But Sue phoned from Charing Cross Hospital, a couple of days later, to ask could I come in Saturday week?  For such a fast turn-around, of course I could.

Imaging departments are havens of peace on a Saturday afternoon, although I expect it would be much busier a few hours later when pubs are in full swing – but this was heaven; clean, spotless and sparkling.  But there was no time to admire the view or read a magazine;  as I came through the door into the MRI section,  Dominic Holleran came out to give me a form to fill in, and we were rolling.

We talked about my polio, and it was lovely to be told “would you like cushions, etc? without having to ask, beg or plead.  When I mentioned it would be more help if I could have two cushions on the table, Amy went off to ‘borrow’ one from another machine without a murmur.   Then I have a Bovine valve in my heart;  off Dominic went to check if this was OK.  When he came back he noticed I had ticked that I suffered from cold, so off he went again to return with an armful of blankets.

All of this was incredible;  normally we post polio people have to explain and explain what we need, and then are left feeling battered and “a nuisance”.  But with Dominic and Amy they bent over backwards to help, and consequently I was on the table far quicker than it normally takes with all the explanations and explanations.  We know what we need.  But it was lovely to be acknowledged as a person, rather than a ‘service user’, and our needs listened to and carried out.

Explanations of the procedure were excellent, and both of them told me what they were doing before they fitted on the bits of equipment.  They even gave me ear plugs, so that ‘noises off were deadened.

The NHS talks of providing a  ‘world class service’.  This time it genuinely was.  Let’s hope that the new Government will be ensuring that this happens all the time, and we don’t have to wait weeks or even months for an MRI scan.  And let  Dominic write the manual on “how to acknowledge patients have got a brain, and listen to what they want and need”.

And it would be interesting to look at Charing Cross’s balance sheet, and see how much extra it is costing with paying staff overtime, against patient satisfaction, and – even more important – the overall cost benefit of maximum utilisation of capital equipment during its lifetime.

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