Our NHS – The Not so Good Things about the NHS #3 (#24)

August 4, 2015 by Holly Berry Leave a Comment (Edit)

Corner 2

When I was a child, we often used to take a trip up to London, about 9 miles from where we lived as the Crow Flies (but not as public transport goes). One of my favourite places to go if it was a sunny Sunday was speaker’s corner. In the Good Old Days (oh dear, how old am I?), speakers used to stand on a box! Hence the expression going to stand on my soap box (so I’m told anyway).

Time moves on & without getting into Politics, the changes in outdoor attire, the replacement of boxes with more modern platforms; or what people talk about these days (less politics & religion & generally more wackiness, fanaticism – whatever) the principle of “free speech”, still prevails: more or less.

So forgive me, I have dusted off the soap-box once more to share my thoughts on where the NHS could do better or differently.

In # 12, I made fleeting reference to the reaction to my request to be contacted by email (“the comp’uer says no…). We live in a world of Data Protection & Caldicott Guardianship and I for one am grateful for the protection it can afford us. But (and it’s a BIG but); when well-meaning but misinformed people start telling me that they “aren’t allowed” to do something, which I am asking of them, which is perfectly legal & is in fact enshrined in the Mental Capacity & Human Rights Act, I get a bit miffed: not to put too fine a point on it.

To date, I have been told by three staff members at the Hospital which I am attending for my treatment, that they “aren’t allowed” to correspond with me by email (my preferred method of communication, see # 15). Now this isn’t the first time I have heard this, over the years in my professional capacity it has become something akin to a broken record…

It’s a source of frustration, not only to me, but to patients & relatives I come into contact with.angry-emoticon

I point out (with little hope that it will make any difference) “I am of sound mind; I know the risks attached with sending emails on unsecured servers & I accept the risk”. NO DICE.

I am lucky, I have a work-around, being an NHS employee with an NHS email account I can communicate via email & everyone is happy with this. LUCKY ME.

What happens when I go on sick leave?  And more importantly, what about everyone else??

The NHS almost venerates rules it seems: take the “validity” and importance of the written Consent Form (which incidentally isn’t worth the paper it’s written on). Our beloved, if somewhat fusty institution, cannot apparently countenance that when an adult of sound mind, makes an informed decision in full knowledge of the possible risks, they should respond positively!

Instead it continues to adopt a policy of risk-aversion & people unfriendly.

If it would make the Information Governance teams feel more comfortable, I for one would be very happy to sign a disclaimer (electronically of course), which sets out the following:

“I am fully aware that the server which I use to send & receive emails may not be entirely secure & potentially open to interception & misuse. I accept these risks & by signing this waiver, will not hold the NHS to account, if in the course of corresponding with me via email the aforementioned occurs.  I will ensure that should my email address changes, I contact the Health Board/Trust to inform them of this. And if anyone intercepts my emails & decides to turn up for my surgery pretending to me, then good luck to them

Ok, on reflection, maybe leave off the last sentence.


It’s about time our wonderful, but over-protective, unconsciously patriarchal NHS got its head around the 21st Century & embraced the fact that patients (AKA grown ups) are able to  & should, (unless they categorically refuse to do so) make their own decisions, take responsibility for the consequences & actually start accommodating the people who they are there for.


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