As I stood at the reception waiting my turn today and just before me was a man waiting to be seen. It was his turn. He had his daughter in a wheelchair while he stood behind her hanging on some of the bags he was holding on the handle of the wheelchair. He smiled at the lovely receptionist. He seemed surprised to see her. After exchanging pleasantries, he announced that it had been three years since his last hospital appointment. Luckily, his daughter had taken a good turn these past few years.
“She has been a good girl and stayed at home”, he joked.
We all smiled. I couldn’t stifle my giggle. He was certainly a jolly good fellow. That was when he expressed his surprise at seeing the receptionist (confirming my initial thoughts).
“How about Mason?”, He asked
“Oh, he was transferred”, the lady announced sounding surprised.
“You remember Mason? He left over a year ago”, she added.
“How can I forget Mason?”, He asked turning towards me as he did.
“Did you know Mason? Sorry I can’t help asking because he was such a helpful man”, he said.
“Ah yes! I remember Mason, he was certainly one of the nice ones”, I replied.
That was really putting it mildly. I had to give a short answer because I was in a hurry and couldn’t wait for it to be my turn.
Honestly Mason was excellent. We could have gone on and on about his nice attributes and not run out of accolades to qualify him with.
Every meeting with Mason had been an opportunity to be given a positive experience. One that you took happily into your day. The fact that someone who had not used the service for the past three years remembered him obviously said something about him.
It got me thinking about how much of a shame it was that not everyone in the hospital was like Mason. You see, for a place where the primary aim was to nurse back frailty and care for less able children, it didn’t feel like too much to ask for!
The last few years have seen the services rendered by the NHS decline at a geometric rate. We hear these things in the media about cuts to the NHS service, shortage of funds, pressures on the system due to rising population, migrant exploitation of the service, inability to hit targets set by the NHS governing bodies and we shrug them off. They really mean nothing to anyone who does not depend on these services to exist. Some of us see it either as an exaggeration or scaremongering tactic but it is actually a reality.
Pressures on hospital services have meant that many of the staff are overworked and trusts are short staffed. Consequently, the end users of the service are left to bear the brunt. For occasional hospital users, this decline is neither noticeable nor worrying. However, for those who rely daily on the service to cater for their children, they cannot help but worry about the future.
Despite all the grim facts, some staff still shine brighter than others. I joke in my head a lot about the medical profession being like priesthood where ideally you need to have a “call” to it. Although remuneration can be arguably attractive, without this “call” to the profession, challenges like the ones currently faced by the NHS create unfavourable experiences for end-users like parents, carers and ultimately patients.
The attitude of many medical and auxiliary staff can be blamed on the level of pressures they have to deal with as a result of the shortcomings inherent in the system. However, the existence of a real call and genuine desire to be in the profession can create the right attitude amidst the trials.
Merriam Webster online dictionary defines a calling to be “a strong desire to spend your life doing a certain kind of work… A strong inner impulse towards a particular course of action…”.
For those who attempt to enter any field without the strong desire to do so, the challenges that the field might throw at them can potentially lead to a change in focus from giving the best to living for the perks on offer eg remuneration, holidays and other benefits. These perks are good but when they become the focus, they can cause disinterest in the job when hard times strike. At such times, they can make work feel more like a chore, become less enjoyable and frustrating. Subsequently the end users of the services rendered by these category of people become the proverbial blades of grass that suffer at the hands of their internal disagreements between the elephants of frustration and irritation at their job.
So as it got to my turn to be served by this lovely receptionist, I remembered Mason. He had set the standard for me and I hoped to come out feeling positive after being served by the new receptionist . There is still hope for the future of the service. Despite the hard times, if all staff play their own parts properly, they can make a difference. This will make the overall experience enjoyable for staff, parents, carers and patients.
Thanks for reading.
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