#WILY week 10

A fun week of What I learnt yesterday last week, including the obvious line from a twitter follower – “I was going to look out for your WILY, but it just sounded so wrong”.  yes, our love of Carry On style jokes and puerile humour is alive and well!

I did throw a couple of extra one’s in too – mmumtm – My Mum Taught Me – felt too similar to WILY, so had to follow.  My mum’s two favourite expressions were:

“Listen politely, then please yourself”


“It costs nothing to be polite”

That’s probably enough thought provocation for the whole week?  But my other themes were about food, team work and me.

Crooked Billet, Little Marlow

Teamwork – was seeing a very busy service at our local, The Crooked Billet in Sheepridge Lane (Little Marlow).  Everyone has their allotted jobs – but no “that’s not my job” attitudes.  The bar overseer noticed her colleague couldn’t take all the plates from one table, so as she stepped into the bar she quietly said “I’l take the rest”.  No drama, no scene.  Effortless and simple – and it just works.

Gym is annoyingly painful and good for you.  It just doesn’t feel so. Is that enough on that one?  Thanks!

Loved a couple of coaching chats.  I said the immortal line “It isn’t only cream that floats”.  But the big headed person who doesn’t realise he is not as good as he thinks he is,  in perspective.  His boss – the coachee – enjoyed it.  Smiling makes it easier to cope, don’t you think?

Missed an 08:15 deadline because of a party – hard to hit 0815 when you roll into bed at 2:30 a.m.

And discovered a new shape of pasta this week.  Mafalda Corta.  Slightly wrinkly little oblongs – and great for a quick meal. I liked it more than the spirals or little tubes – easier to drain for a start.

Work life balance, finally.  Having a planning lunch away from the office, in the calm of my local-est pub, is actually fun and efficient. Enough said.

Food, health and happiness.  Not a bad week?

NHS Food and Customer Care – Guest Blog, Jay Dodson

(This is a guest blog from my Old Bull & Bush compadre, Jay Dodson, and his recent stay in a local hospital.  And as he says, if everyone was out one meal earlier, then we could save millions.  It isn’t rocket science.  I also concur completely in his assertion that backside covering is too much of the focus in the NHS,  and other healthcare providers.  It prevents good care – what gets measured gets done.  And if you measure the wrong things…people make it fit to what is measured… (waiting time in A&E causes ambulances not to be used efficiently – patient in an ambulance doesn’t start their 4 hour wait until they cross the threshold. So they stack up outside in ambulances  Absolute imbecility)

In a recent posting of soft skills for hard times, Phil was discussing an evening learning from the experiences of Sarah Wollaston who chairs the Health Committee in the House of Commons. She had posed the question “have any of you spent a night in a cell?”

After a recent two night spell as a guest of the (I)NHS – the (Inter)National Health Service, I would like to pose the question “have any of you spent a night in a hospital bed?”

Jay doing team stuff...

Jay doing team stuff…

OK – so this was only my second experience as an inmate, and the first was nearly 40 years ago! The staffing at the hospital I visited was truly international – multi racial, and multi-cultural through necessity, rather than a diversity policy I’m sure – but I have to say that with one notable exception the customer service and care levels were superb throughout – committed and caring people with natural high quality inter personal skills. Unfortunately the one exception was the first person I met, as I checked into the reception area at 7 am with a nervous but cheery “good morning” – to be greeted with “take a seat and fill in your menu request for later”! What I had been expecting was a calming and confidence enhancing, welcome and summary of what was likely to happen before going for my operation!

After a spell under general anaesthetic, where an excellent surgeon appears to have done a great piece of work and a short spell in a recovery ward, I was fortunate to be transferred to a newly refurbished ward – E bay on Redlands Ward – where as far as I know, nobody was bidding for my newly repaired body. My experiences over the next 36 hours really do make me wonder if the NHS has yet managed to get their priorities right.

My ward was full of mature people, who were recovering from elective surgery – and I’m sure their shared priority was to be fit enough to return home as quickly as possible. The caring good humour of all the staff I met was a great start, although I believe that it’s a great shame that the most highly qualified nursing staff spend far more time on patient administration and “arse covering” than they do on patient care. My deepest disappointment was the food. Overcooked and flavourless food served cold just cannot be the right way to promote recovery. Just imagine a scenario where even in a short stay environment, every patient’s stay could be shortened by one meal – because they had been fed on well balanced, well-cooked nutritious attractive and tasty food – no extra budget required per head, because they go home sooner. Not to mention the knock on benefits of more bed space available, shorter waiting lists, and happier healthier patients.

Now transfer that scenario to longer stay wards, where good food could shorten stays by even more significant time frames. I would love to be involved in an experiment to produce good food in small satellite kitchens serving a small number of wards, and contrast the health results with the failing model of contract caterers providing such an essential promoter of recovery on an entirely inadequate budget. Is this another TV show idea Phil?

Oh and as a final thought, shouldn’t a ward of nearly 30 people have access to more than one bed pan?! The lack of multiple bed pans (which are after all just cheap bits of plastic), stole so much time of highly trained nursing staff one night that could have been far better utilised with enhanced patient care.

NHS Managers Health Chat Sarah Wollaston, MP

Sarah Wollaston (one O, two L’s – she must always have to say when giving her name…) chairs the Health Committee in the House of Commons.  She was also a GP in rural Dartmoor – real world work – before she moved to the dark side. And she provided fascinating insights when grilled (judiciously) by Roy Lilley at The Kings Fund last night.

Sarah & Roy before the chat...

Sarah & Roy before the chat…

She decided to join the Westminster crew when she heard David Cameron say ‘we need more women and more people with real world experience who would never think of going into politics to do so”.  Careful what you wish for Prime Minister!  Sarah did just that, and now chairs a committee that quite often is at odds or even at loggerheads with government policies.

Real world extended to being a Forensic Medical Examiner – a Police Surgeon often called in the dead of night to examine traumatised victims (or alleged victims) of sexual assaults, partner abuse or worse.  Having a female examiner reduced the trauma for many of the patients I guess.  So yes, very real world experience.

We learnt a lot of how Parliament has changed, and specifically about her work on the Health Committee.  Here are my (as ever) biased and filtered highlights:

  • She was not prepared for the tsunami of e mails and other messages.  Everyone has access to you.  There is also no induction course or CPD for MPs.  I assume this is one way for the whips and gentleman’s club nature of the Westminster plutocracy to be perpetuated?  Keep the newbies a bit in awe, and procedure lite, and you have a malleable set of sheep to deal with? Perhaps someone could design an induction course, Sarah?  (You have my card!)
  • Sarah went through a Primary Election – maybe one of the only ones so far? – and this she contended made it more democratic – in that you can choose which flavour of safe seat candidate you want.  (As 95% of seats are safe, then I contend we need more than this to make our system democratic.  It isn’t at the moment.  People don’t vote because their vote really doesn’t count in first past the post).
  • Scrutiny of parliament is extremely poor.  Much has been wrenched away from whips and others where patronage was the way to fill committees.  So, membership of Select Committees and Specialist committees like Health are now voted for.  It falls at the next level, with Parliamentary Private Secretaries still being in the gift of higher echelons, but the back-benchers are chipping away solidly.
  • “Have you ever spent a night in a cell” was not a floated question I expected from Sarah – and a surprising number of hands shot up!  Perhaps they were all lawyers??
  • The Health Committee has recently voted not to publish a report, but they had managed to put 100’s of PDFs on line regarding the evidence that had been before them.  Better than nothing.  But frustrating, I guess, for many. Including me.

Sarah Wollaston MP sounded justifiably proud of the work as chair of the committee.  Her attitude of “Publish even if the content is inconvenient” applies to Pharmaceutical companies, so maybe should to all committees too (And dare I say it, even to Chilcot).

More real world people in Parliament?  Laudable aim, and on the evidence we saw last night, a great result.

#WILY – Week 9

Well, different old week.  So What Did I Learn Last Week?

  1.  I love being busy  (For those with sensitive souls – I just had to change that from the spell check which made it BUSTY – oh dear!).  This goes as far as gritting ones teeth after running a fairly exhausting 2 day course, and going out to a networking evening.  It was for volunteers on a local radio station – MarlowFM – 97.5 Mhz locally, and on line.  Just a lovely bunch of people in a lovely pub, doing something lovely locally!
  2. I love my job.  Being with a group of highly excited very committed set of people on a leadership course is both inspiring and uplifting.  I get paid to do this – how lucky is that?  I get a huge buzz from it, and always arrive home tired but happy…just great to see people grow.
  3. I occasionally become jealous.  A friend has enormous fan base on Twitter – highly deserved, but still felt those ‘if only’ pangs!  If you want to see her, use @LarkinQuotes – some lovely thought provocation. e.g.”Why don’t you have a go / if you’re so bloody clever”?  Oh – 31 000 followers. Philip Larkin
  4. The total immersive joy of live Theatre – we saw War Horse as a family on Saturday – Christmas pressie to each other.  2 rows from the front.  Wow. Wow. Wow.  I sobbed, a lot… So close and so involved and just so heart rendengly good.

5. Don’t share negative thoughts on a football team in a general text to your friends whom are mainly Tottenham fans, and not realise one is a closet Chelsea fan, and you almost fall out…

6. A metaphor – had to find a hotel on Sat Nav which had changed it’s name – maybe need to update my mental maps as well as the Sat Nav ones.  Makes you think, doesn’t it?  Update your internal maps?