A little over a year ago, I completed my first Connecting placement at The Leeds Teaching Hospitals and I remember the overwhelming sense of pride I felt in our NHS from the moment I stepped through their door. That feeling didn’t leave me for a moment during the placement and has stayed with me ever since.
Fast forward to summer 2018, and I thought it was time for me to dive in again and immerse myself in the real-life wonders of the health service. Due to good health, I don’t have regular contact with hospital services personally, so having the opportunity to ‘Connect’ is truly invaluable and allows conversations with frontline operational colleagues.
Following an exchange of ideas with DHSC’s Connecting coordinators about what a relevant placement would look like, I swiftly received confirmation that early in October 2018 would see me visiting King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. The placement was closely aligned with my work in the department and concentrated heavily on shadowing functions associated with cancer and referral to treatment waiting times. On arrival at Kings, and after an initial period of being disorientated (the directions to turn right at the third Costa Coffee turned out to be very true), it was straight into an 8am MDM (multi-disciplinary meeting) where patients on a cancer pathway were being reviewed to agree on next steps for treatment.
Despite being an early start, the King’s team were clearly full of energy and displayed admirable enthusiasm as they rapidly presented and discussed a succession of cases. This was a very slick affair where radiologists, histopathologists, consultants, surgeons, nurses and many more came together. The collective expertise in the room seemed to effortlessly agree on the right course of action. It reconfirmed how vital rapid access to diagnostic tests is, in both diagnosing illness and determining the most effective treatment. It was also encouraging to witness how actively patients were considered for relevant clinical studies as part of their pathway and how relevant personal preferences and circumstances were considered.
Another memorable meeting was where management and clinical teams come together to ensure that operating theatres are utilised to their maximum efficiency, and at the same time, prioritise those who have waited the longest. This was a thorough review of planned operations for the coming weeks, which included challenge to clinical and service delivery staff to consider the most efficient use of resources.
I must also mention the impressive visit to the Urology one-stop clinic in the Golden Jubilee Wing. The welcome from every member of the team was warm and engaging, with a clear enthusiasm to discuss local innovation. The clinic provides patients with a standardised range of tests for suspected cancer with some patients able to receive the ‘all-clear’ the same day and be discharged back to their GP. Conversely for those requiring treatment, in this case for prostate cancer, hormone therapy can be prescribed and commenced immediately.
Time seemed to fly during the course of the two days, and time and time again, I was immensely impressed by the patient centric approach adopted throughout the hospital by everyone I met.
I would urge all DHSC colleagues, new or established, to regularly take advantage of Connecting placements and form new contacts with NHS frontline colleagues. It’s a great opportunity to observe and reflect away from our usual day jobs.
Interested in a Connecting Placement at Kings College Hospital? There will be placements available in 2019, please forward any interest to firstname.lastname@example.org and look out for updates in the Connecting Bulletin.
Want to know more about how Connecting can help you and your team? The Connecting team (Jane Ellis in London and Roy Axon and Sophie Collinson in Leeds) would be very happy to join in with team meetings – get in touch via the Connecting mailbox (email@example.com)