Is This the Truth of the NHS?


If we take out the locums,

The bank staff,

The mounting costs,

We CAN hold the front line – only just.

If we hold back on orders,

Ration the needles, the swabs, the linen,

Stretch out supplies,

We CAN hold the front line – only just.

If we cut back on printing,

Buy our own biros,

Cut the funding for training,

We CAN hold the front line – only just.

If we close the services,

Double up the wards,

Use half the staff,

We CAN hold the front line – only just.

If we add a new triage team,

Screen all the entries,

Up-skill the nurses and health care assistants,

We CAN hold the front line – only just.

If we streamline the problem,

Keep our heads down under fire,

Signpost to outreach,

Keep our sights on the end of each shift…

We CAN hold our heads above water – only just.

Written in response to a discussion about the financial crisis of the NHS and ‘changes in the way self-employed people pay tax has led to some NHS Trusts to say they are facing demands for a pay-rise of over 50% for locum doctors.’ World at One – Radio 4 (05.04.17) This programme highlighted how much of the NHS language is the language of war.

This week I attended the NAWE conference (National Association of Writers in Education). I was inspired to hear from writers using their skills within the NHS as a teaching tool to support reflection within the workplace and understanding, in particular compassion towards patients, but also of their own experiences and the pressure born of working in the health system. I was particularly blown away by the writing of Romalyn Ante who’s recent book Antiemetic for Homesickness portrays her experiences working in the UK as a nurse and the distanced relationships between herself and her Filipino family. Personally, speaking as a health care professional, I feel too often our voices are not heard. There is a real need for humanity to be at the centre point of relationships between staff and patients, to build connections as people. Health Professionals are not infallible, we are doing our best under difficult circumstances, we are often as frustrated as the people receiving the services of the limitations on what we can offer.

During my MA in Creative Writing at YSJ University I completed a module on Literary Activism and chose to raise awareness of the pressures that the NHS staff are under by translating my own and colleagues experiences into poetry. The poem at the start of this blog and the collage was part of my final work. The NAWE conference has inspired me to resurrect this and to think about running some workshops for my colleagues in the NHS to support our voices being heard. If you are interested in this work, or have an interesting view on this, please do leave me a message on the comments.

Progress on my PhD this week – the NAWE conference has given me some rocket fuel and a raft of ideas to follow up. Challenges – Not to fall down too may rabbit holes!

Writing: Many notes / 0 typed words. Although I did get an extract sent in to my tutors and now have many exciting words to type up.

Goals for next week: To get typing. 500 words minimum.

*Collaged words scrap booked from old issues of the Nursing Times.