Just back from Bournemouth where the NHS Alliance were holding their 13th conference and my old organisation were helping to make it all happen. I was only there for the beer and to see old friends, but in the end I helped with the stage management, managed to dance a few dances and found myself on the reality check panel able to tell the Chief Executive of the whole NHS, the head of NICE and the Chief Executive of the Care Quality Commission what it felt like for patients these days.
It was the emperor has no clothes on time for me and I told them in no uncertain terms that he didn't and that what we received, in secondary care in particular, was far too frequently substandard and at times downright unsafe. I put in a plea for us poor buggers with rare conditions who could easily be pushed into a cruel postcode lottery if there isn't a national scheme to fund our treatment. I asked them to ask themselves how 26 miles across the channel our continental neighbours were receiving a far better, higher quality service that had much better results, when they didn't have a zillion quality standards, or huge organisations to monitor what is going on, or wave after wave of new policies, strategies and management models; just simple, easy, good quality.
I was asked what I wanted from my GP, I said I wanted him/her to be able to send me directly for imaging or other diagnostics not to have to go via secondary care, that I wanted that to happen very quickly. I asked them to make sure that when they referred their patients on to secondary care they made sure that they saw someone with at least as much expertise and experience as they had themselves, and to be aware that this does not happen now; far too much diagnosis and ongoing care is left to Senior House Officers who simply are not senior enough to be able to pick up the exceptions to the rule.
It was amazing how many of the delegates, mostly GPs themselves came up to me afterwards and gave me chapter and verse about the poor care they and their families had received in hospitals etc and they all seemed to still be smiling at me so perhaps I have kept a few friends and maybe together we can start to reclothe our beloved emperor even though times are tough and we might have to make do with M & S rather than Yves Saint Lauren .