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A view from the other side of the front line

All of my recent posts have been tagged as 'blogging from a hospital bed'. Having had almost 60 operations in the last 8 years, and spent months in hospital, i have become very close to the staff of my regular ward. I see them more than i see my friends and family, they see me at my worst, and they care for me when i can't care for myself. They care what happens to me, and i care what happens to them.

Chief Exec of UHL Source
Just last month University Hospitals of Leicester staff were told by the Chief Executive, Mr Malcolm Lowe-Lauri, that they may not get paid in coming months. In May Mr Lowe-Lauri told staff that 'many posts would go', and just 4 days ago it was reported that in the first 2 months of the financial year they overspent by £7 million.

From my own experience; last year one ward was closed with just 24 hours notice, and some staff had turned up to work to find the ward literally chained shut. Another ward, dedicated to assessing patients before a pre-planned operations, has found itself open 24/7 when it only has sufficient staff to maintain a weekday 9-5 service. The late, night and weekend shifts are all staffed with agency nurses, which cost up to £146 per hour, a 60% increase on the cost of contracted nursing staff.

The NHS rumour mill has been in over drive for months, and i heard yesterday that all the staff from the 2 (male and female) surgical admissions wards were called to a meeting. Rumor was that the wards were going to be closed or moved.

The meeting went ahead this afternoon, and it was announced that both the male and female surgical admissions ward will be merged with the renal admissions ward. This is a move that will merge 3 wards into 1, involving a massive loss of amazing staff, huge reduction in beds, and a reduction in the quality of care given to patients.

I really admire the nurse managers that are in charge of surgical admissions. They are a perfect example of how the NHS should be managing the cuts. Knowing they were faced with a massively reduced budget they set about making changes. The changes they made resulted in increased quality of care, happier staff. and more importantly they actually made real cost efficiencies. They did this by introducing a triage system whereby every patient referred by a GP would be assessed by a senior hospital doctor who would then decide if the patient actually needed to be admitted. Prior to this the ward would be full of patients that could be treated effectively at home if their GP had the balls to make a sensible decision, rather than an arse covering decision.

This triage system reduced the ward workload, decreased the number of inpatients, decreased the time a patient would spent as an inpatient, and as a result increased the quality of care. These hard working members of staff should be rewarded for achieving the impossible, real efficiencies, rather than be put in a position where their jobs are insecure, morale is low, and Chief Executive is still being paid £200,000+.

Staff are clearly upset and angry at the decision, but are continuing to do their job to their usual high standard. They have two choices; find another job, or fight to keep their job when/if interviews are scheduled.

So i dedicate this article to the staff of Wards 26 and 27 at Leicester General Hospital...they deserve to be treated better than this. The Chief Executive has proven that he doesn't have the capability to manage the efficiencies, and he should step down with dignity having made an apology to his staff.