You may or may not be aware of NHS Change Day – a grassroots initiative within our health service where individual people of all levels and professional backgrounds pledge to do something, however large or small, to improve the NHS.
In a stroke of genius by Dr Kate GRAINGER for example, she has pledged to make sure to introduce herself properly and by her first name to improve how personalised the service she gives, feels to those who receive it. “Hello My Name Is …” has become something we see all over social media as her extremely simple idea has paid off.
If you doubt the value of something so small, read the Francis Report into Mid-Staffs.
We will see Change Day itself, on the 03rd March, which is Monday of next week and you can read more about it in various places on the internet and in the media. But having been compelled to admit earlier in the week that I didn’t really know what it was about or why it was happening, I read up and concluded that this is something I could contribute to, also. Most police officers could because our work overlaps with the NHS every day. Frankly, I have been a direct and intimate part of our country’s mental health system for most of this last week because of a succession of incidents at work where the police worked ahead of NHS mental health interventions, or subsequent to them. It got me thinking, frankly ……
This could be as big or as small as you want it to be, should you think about pledging to do something positive to improve our NHS. You could climb Kilimanjaro to raise funds and give it to Great Ormand Street if you want to. Most of us won’t be able to go that far, but it doesn’t mean that you couldn’t do something really simple that would make a difference to our NHS’s ability to operate safely or more efficiently – or in way where the wheels are oiled between the professionals in our police / NHS that interact daily, if not hourly, keeping our country safe. And that’s the key to all of this: regardless of whether you are an A&E nurse, a mental health social worker or a police officer: we all come to work to keep our country safe in various kinds of way and we give of ourselves in doing it. It is a noble business and we could always, always be supporting each other more.
So accepting that I could bang off a list of stories of where our NHS has frustrated the life out of me and I’ve gone home from work to stick my head in my hands, this post is about me taking responsibility to lift my head back up and ask myself, “What could I do, me, to make this better in support of NHS Change Day?”
I want to ask all police officers to take a moment to do the same.
I have various ideas and I’ll publish a short blog ahead of 3rd March outlining what my contribution will be. This post is about planting the idea in the head of others and having them ask, “What could I do the next time I’m at work, to support our NHS and make it better?” This could be various things —
- You could undertake a couple of hours reading back through your mental health law – to remind yourself of your legal rights and responsibilities: that when you are next called by the NHS you don’t fall in to one of the many pitfalls where, because of your own misunderstanding, you end up providing less of a response than you otherwise could. Doesn’t have to be the whole legal syllabus: just pick a topic or two. When did you last actually read the Mental Capacity Act, which is often misunderstood? I can’t actually remember hearing its use correctly rationalised so most officers could do this and that’s just one example.
- You could reflect upon the allegations of criminal wrongdoing against NHS staff – remind yourself that 70% of violence in the NHS is in the mental health sector and that paramedics and A&E staff are disproportionately likely to experience violent crime. Ask yourself about the police response to allegations, whether we’re preserving evidence properly, whether we’re making sure that those who keep us well are safe as they do so.
- You could undertake to “drop in” to your local A&E department without any particular justification – “patrol” it for fifteen minutes or so at a busy time and if they’re free enough, talk to staff. You might even get a cuppa with security or the receptionist if you’re lucky. I certainly managed many of my basic hydration requirements satisfied at City Hospital in Birmingham when I was a PC, got to know the names of the nursing staff and listened to their frustrations about us. Occasionally I gave a bit back, got into some banter with them (Yes, A&E is a place of safety!) and built some relationships. Little things.
I put no great amount of effort into thinking of those three – you’ll have your own far better ideas. But the whole point here is not to look at managers and systems for solutions to everything. There are little things in all our organisations that can make a big difference and NHS Change Day is about you working out one of two of them for yourself and deciding to make a difference on your own terms. Give it some thought.
My pledge will be out nearer the day.
The Mental Health Cop blog
– won the Digital Media Award from the UK’s leading mental health charity, Mind
– won a World of Mentalists #TWIMAward for the best in mental health blogs
– was highlighted by the Independent Commission on Policing & Mental Health
– was highlighted in the UK Parliamentary debate on Policing & Mental Health