By in Personal

Doctors - do you trust yours?

HOW MUCH DO you trust the medical profession? As someone who has had his fair share of health problems (some still ongoing) I must confess I trust them implicitly. I have had nothing but good service from doctors and nursing staff during my various relatively short stays in hospital over the past few years and my GP practice is excellent.

But one reads stories in the press and hears stories from friends about not-so-good service from medics. Botched operations, long waits for urgent treatment, certain medications refused due to what is known as the 'postcode lottery' (where you live dictates what medications you can have) and other less serious but still annoying incidents.

The 'system' doesn't help either. The UK's National Health Service is free at the point of delivery - you don't pay to see a doctor. It is paid for by general taxation. But because this is nationwide it has led to a massive and cumbersome organisation which is top-heavy with managers and is very expensive to run - and that is before any patients are treated. The system is overloaded and needs a complete overhaul and yet somehow it still functions well.

It still functions because most medical staff, both those based in hospitals and those working in the community, are dedicated and professional people. But they are only human and occasionally they do make mistakes. Most of these mistakes are trivial with no real harm done but some can have really serious consequences on patients' health.

I had major cardiac surgery eight years ago and apart from a visit from an anaesthetist I had no contact with the surgical team carrying out my operation. I knew the surgeon's name - that was it. I guess it comes down to this: how much do you trust a total stranger to perform a life-saving operation on you? In my case the surgeon was first-class and my operation went smoothly and successfully.

I have since learned that the success rate for the type of operation I had (a triple by-pass) is about 95% - and this is a major surgery on patients who are not in the best of health; surely a tribute to the NHS and the entire medical profession

If I ever need surgery again I would be quite happy for the same surgeon to perform it - I trust him completely even though I have never met him.

INTERESTING FACT: Did you know that every month which begins on a Sunday will have a Friday the 13th in it?

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maxeen wrote on March 14, 2015, 6:03 PM

Exactly! They are all wonderful in my experience. Saved my life 3 times. We could soon lose tham all if TTIP gets passed by certain groups.

Kasman wrote on March 14, 2015, 6:11 PM

It doesn't necessarily mean bad news for the NHS. I guess it depends on how it's done but with the track record of governments I am not hopeful.

Soonerdad3 wrote on March 14, 2015, 6:13 PM

I trust my doctor completely and until she does something to harm that trust I always will.

melody23 wrote on March 14, 2015, 6:26 PM

As someone who works for the NHS I guess people expect me to jump to its defence at every opportunity, and I would absolutely defend the things I honestly feel it does well and there are a lot of those things. However I think what people need to remember is that Doctors and Nurses are people, and just like any other occupation there are people who are good at their job and there are people who are bad at their job. In the NHS I think there is a third category of people: people who are really good at their job and care a whole lot about people, but just are so over-worked and stressed that they physically cannot be good at it any more. I did a shift on a ward once where the nurse in charge basically said that about himself, he loved what he did but he just didn't want to do it anymore because it had become so hard, so stressful.

Mistakes do happen in the NHS, more people within it need to admit that. Not one of us are perfect because we are all people and no person is perfect. There are all sorts of systems in place to prevent errors, some of them work and some of them don't. The biggest problem in my opinion is exactly what you say - management. There are people in offices who have never stepped foot on a ward a day in their lives who are responsible for ensuring I do my job correctly. They decide how many patients I can look after, what paperwork I need to do to risk assess them and all sorts of other nonsense. these people have no concept of what it is like to look after 8 acutely ill patients (their current recommendation for one nurse) and understaffing is the biggest problem we have.

Just for a short example: as a third year student I am now expected to take on some of my own patients. On nightshift last week I was given one room to look after with three beds. Shift starts at 7.30pm and by midnight I had had 8 separate people in there, that's five new patient admissions, five patients to be either handed over to another ward or discharged home and three to look after at all times, in this case two of them were critically ill. Imagine if I had five more beds to look after! I would have literally given anything during that shift to have one of these decision making managers come and work with me and tell me to my face I should have five extra patients!

Kasman wrote on March 14, 2015, 6:35 PM

I hear your frustration and I understand it. Despite the huge amounts of money spent on the NHS much of it is spend in the wrong places. We do need managers but surely we should not give anyone a job as an NHS manager unless they have worked on the 'shop floor' for a couple of years. They would then have a solid understanding of the problems faced in the 'real' NHS - and not on how many paperclips they have on their desk!

melody23 wrote on March 14, 2015, 6:51 PM

That's exactly how I feel, they wouldn't let me go to uni full time for three years and then go out and look after patients with no clinical experience, that's why we have placements. So why should these people who have never worked on a ward be allowed to decide how it runs? They have no idea what its really like.

Sure in their idealised world where everything is perfect it would be great if every single patient that comes in to a ward could have their weight checked and if their BMI is low then you fill out a nutrition profile and act on that giving supplements or referring to dieticians or whatever, but in real life my very obviously underweight patient couldn't physically stand to get on the scales so how on earth do I weigh them. The answer is on hoist scales but I am yet to actually see a set of those!

Even if we did have the elusive hoist scales, its a two person job to weigh someone on those and its distressing for a patient to have to go through that - especially at 3am! If, as in this case, the patient in question is likely to only be in hospital for a day, two at the most this information doesn't actually do anything as they will be out of hospital before a dietician review comes through so whats the point? Its just a waste of my time which could be better spent caring for the patient, perhaps making sure they eat at least something while they are in.

Given that these managers are paid at least twice what a newly qualified nurse is paid, for every one of these useless people they employ they could instead employ two nurses. Now that would improve patient care!

j2jworkz wrote on March 14, 2015, 7:31 PM

Yes and no. Obviously I try to choose doctors whom I trust, but the system or hospital setting from what I've seen, no.

MelissaE wrote on March 14, 2015, 8:23 PM

I trust my doctor, but I don't trust all doctors just like I don't trust all car salesmen or all attorneys or all police officers. In my heart of hearts, I do believe that my father would have lived if he'd gotten better care in the ER when he had his last stroke.

maxeen wrote on March 14, 2015, 8:40 PM

Aren't you bothered about the sovereignty of the British Isles ?

agvulpes wrote on March 14, 2015, 11:42 PM

I'm pleased to hear that the NHS is working ! Our system of health in Australia is OK but the Government is trying to cut back on their payment to GPs by bringing in a Co-Payment system, we are not happy about that at all!

Telynor wrote on March 15, 2015, 12:05 AM

I have been working with a very good PA, and she takes wonderful care of me. I tend to trust my doctors, but if I go into their office, and something doesn't feel quite right, I don't pay them a return visit.

peachpurple wrote on March 15, 2015, 3:07 AM

nope, never trust just one doctor. Looks for the second and third for more opinion

scheng1 wrote on March 15, 2015, 5:27 AM

I think when patients express themselves properly, the doctors will do a better job. Some patients just cannot express their symptoms to the doctors, and doctors have to guess.

Kasman wrote on March 15, 2015, 1:35 PM

maxeen - indeed I am! I think we should abandon the EU and go back to being a totally indendent country but I was referring specifically to the running and organisation of the NHS. If it's done properly (admittedly unlikely!) all should be OK.

maxeen wrote on March 15, 2015, 6:47 PM

It is certainly an eye opener to read the fact of management from the writing of ,very enlightening...I agree ,out..out..out..

Lushlala wrote on March 16, 2015, 3:15 PM

I believe overall the NHS is fantastic, but I also think it depends where you are. I won't name towns, but each time we went to our doctors', we were seen by a different doctor. For some reason, they always seemed very disgruntled, sullen and very patronising. NOT very pleasant at all.

Then my husband got taken seriously ill at work, in a different town far from where we lived. He was rushed to Macclesfield hospital. To say the staff there were outstanding, would be an understatement. They were so considerate, courteous and caring; all the things that medical staff are traditionally known for. It was just fantastic, I was totally blown away and I remain grateful to them to this day!

paigea wrote on March 19, 2015, 8:49 PM

I trust my doctor. I rarely go to the doctor but have been with family as they went through treatments. Every thing is not perfect here with our puplicly funded health care in Canada, but it is very good. Now the question is how to keep it and improve it.