Let’s make it clear – normally I would address you formally as befits a Minister, but heigh-ho – your NHS seems to like informality when we become patients (even though it makes me cringe), so “when in Rome …..”
I have lots of bones to pick with you, but have decided to call a truce as I don’t believe it’s fair to hit someone when they are down, and you have been looking very peaky recently. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall pursuing you with one of those fluffy things on the end of a pole obviously terrified you, so don’t want to add to your misery. You stop bugging me, and I ‘ll leave you alone.
Although you have been Minister for some time, you are still going around with a surprised expression, so this aide memoire might help you to understand what the officials obviously left out when briefing you::
Rule 1. Patients generally know what’s best for them.
Most of us hate taking pills, but realising some are helpful, we are careful not to upset the apple-cart. Please stop GPs that interfere by following your instructions to save money e.g. one tried to swop Clopidogrel for Aspirin (cheaper), so I told the eminent Consultant who first prescribed Clopidogrel that my GP wanted to swop; he got rather shirty and a broadside was despatched to the surgery. Afterwards I didn’t hear a peep out of the shell-shocked GP, but he didn’t interfere again.
Rule 2 , Junior Doctors don’t deserve to take the can when your bright (or not-so-bright) ideas go wrong.
A & E had been told no more pillows to save money. I gave the doctor attending me a succinct break-down on how much InjuryLawyers4U would be suing for on my behalf, as I had Kyphoscoliosis. He had to go up to a ward and returned with an armful of pillows to support my head, and saved you money because I don’t take kindly to medical consequences when my head isn’t supported.
Rule 3, Know what’s going on – or don’t open your mouth and put proverbial foot inside.
I know you mean well when you stand up in Parliament and promise there is no post-code lottery, but having just moved from London I find there is one thriving in Oxfordshire. With a dozen or so co-morbidities (ugh – what a word) I need to make sure things work for me. (I know it would be easier for the NHS if I just kicked the bucket but I rather enjoy living). I don’t enjoy having to work out what rules and regs. to bring in to play to ensure I get the correct care, so if only you would give up and realise I do know more about treatment than you (not hard, I must admit) I wouldn’t have to waste the time of those few secretaries left (was it your clever idea to make so many redundant?). It takes up their time having to write letters couched in beautiful language but basically telling the recipient to stop mucking about as I need X and Y treatment. .
Rule 4. You must protect your future.
I know you must be thinking of retiring in a similar platinum-plated fashion to your predecessor, but do realise that although you obviously are scared of the great British public, always ensuring there are lots of Dept. Health staff surrounding you so you don’t have to talk to us, we are rather important – not least because our taxes pay your salary. So it might be an idea to start being nicer to us before the next election – or aren’t you planning to stay on as an MP? I think we should be told.
Rule 5. Advice from expensive American management consultants might not always work when transferred to UK
have served on several NHS working groups; I know they are going to make policy decisions because we are paid to attend. Those run by McKinsey are excellent – hence you never seem to take their advice, but some are rubbish. We sent a year discussing care for the elderly under the guidance of an American firm who ran text-book meetings on “how NOt to conduct a meeting”, and upshot was that when rolled out for a pilot the sensible (English) lass in charge, changed everything to what we had suggested should be done, and it now works like a dream. So get rid of those expensive consultants and forego the ‘all-expenses paid’ trips to the States, Virgin Isles, etc. Sorry if your staff will miss out on their tan.
And finally – I could start up a chemists shop with the boxes of pain-killers I am handed after every visit to A & E. It’s no use telling staff I don’t need them, they don’t listen. I am storing the boxes so if ever I decide I’ve had enough they will be a cheaper alternative to Dignitas.