Last week the Mail on Sunday published an extract from Tamsin Day Lewis’s account  of the last days of her mother’s life, which were spent in the Petersfield Community Hospital, which is an NHS GP run hospital.

After all the negative reports I have read in the media, and on blogs, it was heartwarming to read that some hospitals still manage to give the kind of service for which we were all trained. I had become so disheartened by the brainwashing we are subjected to about the failures of the service.

I am sure there must be many more such hospitals  around the country, (some of them are mentioned in the comments about this article)  but of course they never make it into the headlines.

Why should some hospitals be able to maintain high standards whilst others fail so abysmally? Could the answer be hidden in the name of the hospital? The Community hospital run by GPs and nurses. Do they have fewer bureacrats interfering in the running? Have their LHA realised that those on the front line, who have been trained to give the best care, know better than accountants and career civil servants. Doctors and nurses do not regard patients as “units” to be dealt with in the most economical fashion, but to receive the best treatment they can give.

When Mrs Thatcher decreed that hospitals should be governed by “market forces”, she did not know what a can of worms she was opening. Of course they have to be run without unnecessary waste, but some economies are very short sighted. Putting the cleaning out to the cheapest tender opened the way for commercial firms to provide a sometimes slipshod  service, where cleaners no longer felt responsible for any particular ward, and were no longer accountable to any one person. This led to the rise of hospital acquired infection and huge bills for “deep cleaning”.

I am old fashioned so I still think that there is a place for nurses to receive the same kind of training we had, i.e. an apprentice style where we combined academic training with hands on learning. I realise that nurses now have to use far more  computerised machinery and a greater variety of drugs and they have also taken over many of the tasks which were done by doctors in my training days, but could they not have two types of  nurse. One which had the traditional training and others who do the “technician nurses” training at university?

If they had this two stream training  students could choose which path to follow, they would need fewer technically minded nurses and there would be student nurses learning  (as we did) from those who are fully trained in bedside nursing and have years of experience, rather than from tutors who have been away from the bedside for (sometimes) many years.

If they had more community hospitals it would free up beds for the acute cases in the big hospitals.

I worked in small hospitals a few times during my nursing days and my mother ended her days in the excellent cottage hospital in Aberaeron. All these were friendly caring places but, sadly, many of them have been closed in the name of economy. How many years before a “think tank” will (at great expense in time and money) pronounce that patients get better treatment in these small units?

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