A VALENTINE WISH FOR THE NHS – Love is being smart together
The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it’ – Nye Bevan
A Valentine Wish For The NHS
“Love is being stupid together,” so wrote the French poet Paul Valery. While I feel there’s a grain of truth to that, it sounds a little corny and decadent for my tastes. On a personal level I would prefer to focus on a more interesting truth which is – Real love is being smart together!
It was fascinating listening to Roy Lilley, Dr Terri Porrett and Helen Bevan recently via the NHS Transformathon. They were talking about the Academy of Fabulous Stuff and its work. They looked at the diffusion of ideas and the importance of relationships around care and transformation. Roy Lilley said, ‘‘Quality starts from love and change starts from passion.’’ These are great and challenging words. My experience as a passionate and committed nurse who works in primary care bears out for me the truth of them.
There are three little words we all know – words that make most of us feel good and valued. They are I love you. For many of us there are also three other words – National Health Service and the effect is the same. As a woman and a nurse I love the NHS. I know of the failures, the mess and the times when things go so wrong. Why do I still love our NHS as much? Well it saved my husband’s life, and it will have almost undoubtedly helped all of us at some point or another. The NHS is a sign that we should care for others. That money shouldn’t be the benchmark of receiving care but need should. As aspiration and reality the NHS represents something to be valued, developed and supported. It is for so many a lifesaver. I work in it, I care about it, and I owe everything to it. As a citizen, carer and volunteer in my local neighbourhood, the informal relationships with friends, neighbours and colleagues are at the heart of my own personal journey, inside and outside the NHS.
In my practice it is the relationships we nurture and develop that becomes the crucible in which we share, learn and deepen our understanding of the way the world works and the way it could work. I am challenged and thrilled to hear from and work with families, carers and patients. Seeing things in new ways and finding better ways to work and learn together. And at the heart of this is a love – a commitment to and for each other. It takes a great deal of love to make this work well.
I have seen the fabulous stuff. In May this year I will be working with a fantastic Patient Educator called Nick Hartshorne- Evans and his team from the Pumping Marvellous Foundation. We plan to train practice nurses in heart failure. Historically nurses are trained by health care professional solely in pathophysiology, disease progression & their ability to spot signs & symptoms of ill health. Whilst all this is important stuff, outcomes are not particularly great, in terms of hospital admissions and quality of life. We have missed hearing the voice and experience of the patients too. Nick and I believe it’s time to flip the learning and get our Patient Experts to train the professionals. To create places of friendly support and learning –partnerships that care and last.
As nurses we need to really appreciate and understand what it feels like to live with a long term condition. We need not just listen to people’s hearts and take their pulses. We need to listen to their stories and take their experience as the compass and guide for us it is. We also need to see and celebrate how they are leading and starting to transform care. They are supporting the work of primary care within our beloved NHS. They are sowing the seeds of new ways.
If we weave our destiny together with our patients, communities and our health services, we can catalyze our sleeping potentials, sharpen our perceptions, and boost our emotional and analytical intelligence. This is not just a romantic notion. It is happening where I work. It may not be happening fast enough or everywhere but the fact it is happening is sign I believe of new possibility. New possibility is all about what we could do everywhere because we see it blossoming in some places. How these seeds can scatter and grow on a larger scale to support change & partnerships across our systems.
This is the love, work & care I would like to see played out every day, in every practice & every community. This will take the time, investment, vision and resources that are desperately needed. think so. Being smart together – listening and learning is the way forward.
The original St Valentine was killed by arrows. On his feast day we send cards and gifts to loved ones to tell them how we feel. I send this note to the NHS and especially Primary Care where my work and heart are. It’s to say that I love and care for the NHS. It was there at my birth and every day I see the work it does for good. Despite the problems and failings without her we would be in a state I could not imagine nor would I wish to see. Let’s defend and value our NHS, let’s formulate a vow in which we promise to do what’s necessary to more fully embody the principle “Love is being smart together’.
Louise Brady, John Walsh, Nick Hartshorne-Evans & Heather Henry.