No, not the triangular chocolate bar but consultants like Mr Toblerone (name changed to protect the guilty) who, despite ultra-high intelligence and probably ultra-high skills as a surgeon and researcher, has not even the people skills of a cruise missile.
What has he done … or not done?
Let me tell you Jimmie’s story (name changed to protect the innocent).
Jimmie has seen both sides of the NHS within the one hospital: one department where all the patients are treated with the utmost respect. Jimmie said that were he royalty he couldn’t have been treated better and then the other ….
…… Jimmie has been seen by Mr Toblerone on quite a few occasions over several years for a particular pain, initially of unknown cause but now believed to be X, and his manner has almost always been off-hand, brusque, superior, uncaring, unsympathetic.
Once when seen privately, Mr Toblerone was gushing: How are you, James? Nice to see you again, James? I bet you don’t know how much lucre you’re putting into my pocket, James.
Surprisingly, once - but only once - as an NHS patient, Jimmie found Mr Toblerone in a very relaxed mood, dressed casually rather than suit, shirt and bow-tie and showing interest and understanding. This couldn’t, and didn’t, last.
A few days ago Jimmie had the misfortune to have an appointment with Mr Toblerone – an annual visit – and he was appalling. Sub-standard doesn’t do it justice.
Mr T looking at handwritten notes and pc snapped, “Why are you here?”
Jimmie, “Mr A said that I should continue with an annual visit.”
Mr T: “WHY?”
J: “Because, Mr T, at times the pain is unbearable.”
Mr T: “But you only have mild X.”
J: “Mr T, at home in my file I have a report from you stating that my X was so serious that you couldn’t complete a particular test?”
Mr T, flicking through notes, “Ah, serious. Yes, you have Y. X and Y they’re the same thing. Patients find something on the web and think they know everything.”
J: “Mr T, today patients are better informed than they have ever been because of access to information on the web. I’m looking for advice about how to handle the pain when it comes.”
Mr T: “We offer surgery and two years ago you refused surgery.”
J: “How can I deal with the pain when it becomes severe?”
Mr T: “Surgery is all we have on offer.”
J, trying successfully to retain his composure, stood up, picked up his newspaper, said, “Mr T,this has been an unsatisfactory consultation” and walked out.
Why do I tell this story because it is mild in terms of some of the horror stories one hears?
Because it is so run-of-the-mill, so ordinary, that it must be happening in hospitals across Britain. Patients treated as though they are bricks, no intelligence, no needs other than to sit in front of a god of a consultant, as though they are an inconvenience to god.
The NHS is run for these gods and not for the patients.
And what happens if a Jimmie complains?
Sod all for the Jimmies.
Circle the wagons! We have an attack! Oh, Mr Toblerone, how could this patient, whom you have treated so well over the years, be so ungrateful, so selfish, so blind, so unknowing, so ignorant as to complain about your manner. God, Mr T, Jimmie has even complained that you didn’t know the details of his case. How could you with all your responsibilities be expected to know that Jimmie’s X was serious? We will knock this fool’s complaint back, don’t you worry, Mr T.
The NHS can introduce targets, systems, best practice, new technologies and none of it is worth anything as long as there are Mr Toblerones infecting the Service.
Rid the NHS of Toblerones whether they be executives, managers, consultants, doctors or nurses.
Cruise missiles cause damage wherever they go.
Let’s make sure we ban cruise missiles from the NHS.