The NHS is taking a beating from the press and media at the moment – just at the point Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, wants to open it up to the private sector. Here is a rather heart warming story of why it is still very good. Not everybody is being neglected by uncaring nurses and health professionals.
Unless you live in the Chilterns town of Berkhamsted you probably will never have heard of Gossoms End Community Hospital named after an ancient hamlet adjoining the town.
This unsung place is providing excellent physiotherapy for my wife, Margaret, who is recovering from a stroke after a rather dramatic rescue by air ambulance from the Isles of Scilly – see my earlier blog at David Hencke.
What is particularly good is that some one has properly planned this facility so that stroke victims and people recovering from serious injuries can get proper physiotherapy and nursing care in a decent environment. The hospital unlike Watford, the main accident and emergency hospital for West Herts, is under no pressure to throw people out at the earliest opportunity. The cost of running it is much less than using a ward in acute hospital.
But the real key is that this is a nurse and physiotherapy led unit – with a weekly visit from a consultant and a doctor on call. The result is that the driving force behind the care is to find the most suitable rehab treatment for the individual patient.
Also if there is an emergency – my wife was discovered to have two new blood clots on her lungs – the patient can be taken for urgent medical care at Watford General Hospital. In her case suspicions by the doctor at Gossoms End led her to being scanned and then treated at Watford and she was able to go back to Gossoms End for rehab after five days.
There are other human qualities. It is small – just 20 beds – some patients like my wife have their own room.The food is home cooked on the premises, there is a cheery dining room overlooking a small park. There is a terrace and gardens outside. It also does out-patient physiotherapy, has a GP surgery attached and is surrounded by sheltered housing. Even two private retirement developments are now located near this hospital. My sister-in-law , who is a community nurse, was so impressed that she thought it might be a private facility. But it is not. Indeed it has just had a £200,000 refurbishment ( see http://www.hertfordshire.nhs.uk/news-and-events/press-releases/2010-press-releases/208-refurbishment-at-gossoms-end-complete.html).
Berkhamsted is extremely lucky to have this facility. From what I can see there are other such places – but no national directory of how many there are. It seems this provision is very hit and miss.
Yet at the same time the coalition and Labour are supposed to be planning major changes to help Britain’s elderly population by concentrating funds to keep them fit and healthy and provide proper support. I challenge Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat minister responsible for social care, and Andy Burnham, Labour ‘s shadow health secretary, to visit Gossoms End and see how the unsung part of the NHS is working. They need to listen, learn and then act. So far the pair of them are ignoring my emails.Perhaps the minister and the opposition health spokesman aren’t bovvered.
PS Many thanks to all those who sent Margaret get well cards, messages of support and have taken the time to come and visit her. You have all been very kind and caring.