Random Thoughts 47, DHSS

Addressing the rise in serious, Alphabet diseases in the DHSS. This is not, repeat not, a criticism of hospital staff, but of management and the Government. Recently I had a small surgical operation, and had to return to have the stitches out. At one point, the nurse attending me had a problem, and sought the help of a Sister . The nurse was wearing surgical gloves, and everything she was doing was done with cleanliness in mind. The sister, at the time of the request, like the rest of the staff, under severe pressure was merely passing, she had no surgical gloves on her hands, absentmindedly bent to pick up a piece of paper from the floor, read it, put it to one side, and then without gloves attended to my wound. I site this not as a criticism of the nurse, but of the fact that the whole department was being overworked. The surgeons and doctors were running approximately one and a quarter hours late due to an influx of emergency cases. From my experience, in this small hospital, this was not unusual because they were understaffed, and under funded. However, in general, I think one could be wrong in thinking that the Health Service is under funded when everyone talks in Billions. I believe it is a matter of mismanagement, spending money on bureaucracy, trying to reach targets to justify government policy, and not listening to the people at the coalface, the senior nurses, the doctors, and the specialists. Talk to any of them, and you will get an entirely different picture, but unlike in the old days they are no longer in charge.

Every time they raise the question of alphabet diseases on television, they always show someone swishing away with some sort of mop, cleaning the floor. Surprise surprise, when inspectors went round a number of hospitals recently, they discovered that under the furniture there were little piles of debris of one sort or another. The actual cleaners have targets, and are commercially driven, probably with very little slack. Way back in the dark ages when I was in hospital, they had matrons and I believe at that time a lot of cleaning was done actually by the nurses as well as cleaning staff, and they scrubbed. Today it is out on contract, the ward is just another job in a day of many jobs, it has no personal relationship, the cleaners aren’t part of a team, and they too are under pressure, but for a different reason. So I find it unsurprising that the cleaning is inadequate, and in consequence one assumes, the rise in the alphabet diseases, is increasing.

Nearly 10 years ago I had a hip replacement, and after one day in considerable discomfort, I was expected to get up and walk, go to the bathroom to wash, and go to the toilet. Any man will tell you that there are a number of their kind who find it impossible to aim correctly at the WC and persist in leaving the lavatory in a worse state than when they arrived. I understand, whether correctly or not, that some of these alphabet diseases are transmitted through unclean toilets. Short of having a permanent lavatory attendant who cleans up after each patient, I fail to see how transmission of the disease by the passage feet, can be controlled adequately. Swishing about with a mop may impart a certain amount of bleach, but it will also be gathering and moving about whatever else is there. Recently I questioned why the alphabet diseases were not as prevalent in prisons, and I have just realised, that unless I’m mistaken, each cell has its own WC. While we are talking about patients walking about, they are touching furniture, television knobs, passing on newspapers and so on. They might even be carriers, and certainly some of them will not be washing their hands after having been to the WC. So I think it is totally unfair to blame the medical staff for an outbreak, unless it can be proven to be due to rank negligence on their part, and not that of other sources including incoming contractors. By the same token, it is absolutely right to blame the management, because it is their job to oversee, if an inspector from outside can come and find debris underneath something, it is purely about management that someone in-house hadn’t discovered it first.

Categorized as General

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