If you were asked to review hospital services, would you begin by looking for services to cut?
In Sheffield Save Our NHS, we thought that most people would want to build on strengths and improve areas of weakness, which is how we began our People’s Hospital Review. We talked to people on street stalls and also sent out an online questionnaire. Here are some of the comments.
What do you think is good about hospitals?
In total, there were 30 comments in response to this question.
Many people praised the commitment and efficiency of staff, in comments such as these:
- “Whenever I’ve needed the NHS, they’ve been there”
- “The dedicated staff working against the odds to look after us”
- “Commitment of staff”
- “They try their best”
- “The expertise and specialism they all have”
- “Friendly, helpful nurses – how do they do it when they’re so overworked?”
Some people mentioned specific services, for example:
- “Great care and repair for my grandson (cleft lip and palate)”
- “When admitted at 9 years old, it was good they let my mum stay overnight”
- “Excellent surgery”
- “Blood testing service at the Hallamshire is speedy and efficient”
- “Good for preventative care, eg mammograms”
- “Acute medical Care and A&E; Re eye clinic: fast appointments”
- “Good service and follow-up”
- “Been in hospital at Hallamshire and everything was good, from surgeon to cleaning staff!”
There were also some general comments about hospital services:
- “They are good because they are local to communities”
- “Quality of some of the services”
- “Range of specialist services”
- “Their apparent willingness to work together”
- “Sheffield hospitals are linked to the medical school, which is good”
- “A good spread of hospitals”
A few comments related to pressures on the NHS:
- “Their capability of excellence is often compromised by the capacity of funds and the corrosive nature of targets and paperwork foisted in clinical staff”
- “SY&B hospitals seem to have been fairly resilient so far in the face of continuous de-funding by Conservative-led governments”
What could be better?
There were 42 responses to this question.
Again, staff seemed to be at the forefront of people’s minds. One response just said:
- “Ask frontline staff this question! “
There were also comments on treatment of patients, wastage of scarce resources and suggestions about management, structures and how decisions are made.
Here are some of the comments about improvements for staff:
- “Give admin staff time to look up and smile when I go into reception”
- “Nurses and professionals try hard but it is hard – no pay rises, not valued. It’s all about computers rather than care”
- Take care to employ the cleaning staff in-house to improve everyone’s chances”
- “Staff are over stretched. The “good service” provided is because they work over and beyond their contracts – which puts pressure on them and their health”
- “Reintroduce training bursaries better pay and shift arrangements for clinical staff”
- “1 nurse able to administer a particular treatment for over 7 wards. Grossly under-supported”
- “Look after our staff!”
One respondent felt very strongly about the treatment of NHS staff and wrote that:
- they [staff] “have been kicked around for years, underpaid and pushed to the limits.
- “You must reduce staff stress which causes massive amounts of sickness and loss of valuable and experienced staff. It also leads people to retire at the earliest opportunity.
- “Never mind bursaries, student nurses should be paid like they used to be. I worked on a ward where the majority of the nursing staff were mature entrants. How can these people get in now?
- “In my NHS years 1972- 2000, I didn’t know of one person being sacked but 2000- 2013, I saw dozens being sacked.
- “A little more human understanding would reduce a climate of management intimidation.
- “Please don’t bleat about staffing issues unless you are prepared to treat your workers properly.”
Improvements for patients were suggested, including:
- “Shorter waits for transport home after treatment”
- “Wrong to send somebody home poorly”
- “Must respect DNR wishes”
- “Make main entrances to hospital more welcoming and waiting areas child friendly”
- “Improve the hospital environment on acute wards: give patients access to more gardens and green spaces. Hospital wards are claustrophobic and oppressive”
- “Seeing in-patients more as people not just bodies”
On the Northern General Hospital there were specific concerns, it was seen as confusing, polluting and dangerous:
- “Better signage would help at Northern General”
- “The ongoing concentration of services at the Northern General Hospital has led to increasingly high illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide in the streets around the hospital”
- “Police treat the Northern General as a violence hot spot! No more pressure please.”
Many suggestions for improvement related to wider issues of funding, privatisation and management structures and strategies. Some people commented on underfunding, while others saw some policies, such as outsourcing, as wasteful.
- “More funding”
- “More staff”
- “More beds wards & staff”
- “Targeted increased resources to restore service levels”
- “More investment of staff and properties”
- “Better funding, more staffing and better support for staff”
- “Obviously a massive increase in capacity/funding”
- “Stop closing beds and services”
- “No cuts”
- “Commitment to staff recruitment and retention”
- “In-source cleaners and reduce hospital infections”
- “Eliminating private participation”
- “Reversal of the privatisation of services”
- “Ancillary staff who are employed in House and in permanent positions to increase the numbers of regular workers who are attached to wards, rather than workers who work to an outside private company with other priorities than patients comfort and service”
- “The removal of private firms”
- “Stop wasting money on buying in services that could be provided by the NHS”
- “Stop giving over beds to private facilities within NHS hospitals”
On wasteful policies:
- “Take away the paper work and let nurses do the job they love and are good at doing”
- “Divide the tasks differently: senior staff doing breakfast and meds in one round takes longer and wastes their valuable time”
- “More actual sharing (of specialist staff) and networking of key services”
- “Stopping the reorganisations. Waste of money and resources”
- “better liaison with social care”
- “an elderly female patient who was on the same ward as my mother had been there for 12 months, as there wasn’t anyone to care for her at home and there wasn’t any social care facilities for her.”
Two respondents questioned the need for all of out-patients to be located in hospitals, and there was a suggestion of possible:
- “reform of out-patient services, better use of local facilities, linked to the hospitals”
On technology, one respondent commented on how to:
- “take advantage of the changes and improvements to treatments brought about by new technology and governments prepared to invest in these and train personnel to make best use of them”
Given the range of ideas put forward here, it would seem important to take on board the suggestion of another respondent:
- “Involvement of patients and public in decision-making
while recognising the risk seen by another person that:
- “the NHS is being hollowed out so as to create space for privatisation”
In part 2 of this blog post, by Deborah from Sheffield Save Our NHS, you can read how people responded to specific proposals made in the Hospital Services Review report published in May 2018 at https://www.healthandcaretogethersyb.co.uk/ .
South Yorkshire & Bassetlaw NHS Action Group would like to hear your comments on what you’ve read in this blog.
It’s too late to forward your comments to the Reviewers – but your views are welcome.
Also it would be good to know if you knew that:
- the Review port was happening (July 2017 – April 2018)
- the Report was published (9th May 2018)
- that your comments on the Report were invited? (12th June – 13th July 2018)