A Christmas message from Matron Brooke (part 2)

mbIn the second of her two Christmas messages to the BGS, “Matron Brooke” (a.k.a. Bridget Leach from the Heart of England Foundation Trust) gives us her own inimitable take on the festive season.

Hello My Dears

The Festive Season is once more upon us and, as has become traditional, I am sitting at my bureau penning my Christmas message to my colleagues and dear friends hard at work in our beloved NHS. I always write in a fountain pen of course, finding the biro leads to a more scruffy hand.

What a year; every time one sees a paper our NHS is in trouble for yet more misdemeanours. I have informed the staff here at Greenfields that they should no longer buy the red tops and stick to the broadsheets, but there are a couple of residents who will insist on The Daily Mail (I believe they were both ‘in trade’) and one who will read nothing other than The Daily Mirror. How one is expected to be aware of what is going on in the world, when met with front page headlines concerning someone with the ridiculous name of Posh and erstwhile ‘celebrities’ having jungle holidays, I will never know.

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A Christmas message from Matron Brooke (part 1)

mbIn time-honoured tradition, the BGS blog takes a more light-hearted turn over Christmas. This year, we’ve received a pair of festive messages from Matron Brooke, the comic creation of Bridget Leach, Lead Nurse at the Heart of England Foundation Trust. 

My Dears,

My missive this Christmas comes not via my bureau in my room at Greenfields Home for retired gentlefolk but from a hospital bed no less! A little early but I find I have rather a lot of time on my hands this past week. I have been here for something approaching a week now and  to say I have been surprised both pleasantly  and unpleasantly is an understatement.

My journey (I believe any trial or episode in one’s life is now termed thus) began last Friday morning. I woke at my usual time of 5am (old habits die hard) and felt rather off colour; I decided a visit to my en-suite facilities was required rather urgently and started to make my way, next thing I knew I tripped over my bed table, knocking over one of my finest Capodimonte figuerines in the process. The staff heard my shriek and came rushing in.

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The 12 Days of Christmas – a hospital doctor’s lament

4980cbdcDavid Oliver is the current President of the BGS, a visiting Fellow at the Kings Fund, and a consultant in geriatrics and acute general medicine at the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust.

This time last year, I wrote the “Geriatrics Profanisaurus” – all about words and phrases which should be banned when discussing older people. It triggered plenty of  responses “below the line”, adding to the list of ageist and ignorant language regarding healthcare for older people and went a bit “viral” online. Indeed, the BGS is now being followed by Roger Melly’s Profanisaurus on Twitter, as is occasionally “sweary geriatrician” Dr Wyrko.

As I started the precedent of a festive Presidential blog, I couldn’t resist my own re-write of the old favourite “The 12 Days of Christmas”. I say this as a frontline doctor who frequently disappears into an uber-busy acute medical unit, or emergency department and has inpatients who are increasingly frail and complex and often requiring step down health and social care services which are themselves over-stretched. It’s a very challenging environment both for staff, patients and families and one that I know colleagues right across the four nations face, especially in the winter months. Its important in letting off steam on this site – mainly read by clinicians, that we are all deadly serious about trying to provide the highest quality care for patients. So no fun is intended to be at anyone’s expense.

But here goes anyway: do join in, especially with a hearty “Five Interims”.

On the twelfth day of Christmas,
My true love sent to me:
Twelve “vacant” locums,
Eleven “bed meetings”,
Ten “points of access”,
Nine winter pilots,
Eight re-admissions,
Seven day working,
Six delayed transfers,
Five Interims,
Four hour breaches,
Three Iberian Nurses,
Two Norovirus,
and  an over-crowded ED…

I also sometimes find other songs going through my head that seem strangely appropriate to the jobs we all do. Here are one or two:

“Back in Black” …”I want my bed base back”  – with thanks to Los Bravos.

Or indeed “Back to Black” by Amy Winehouse. “Black Alert” that is – when we have as many beds as Bethlehem had room at the Inn. At such times, though I am a Man City Fan, “Simply Red” would be a welcome sight for once.

Talking of Amy, if I had a quid for every patient whom I have wanted to send to intermediate care for ongoing rehab, but has preferred either to stay in hospital or to go home with no rehabilitation and support, surely “They tried to make me go to rehab, I say No, No, No” fits the bill.

Allied to this is the Beatles “Hard Day’s Night” – not only applicable to overstretched on call teams and nurses but also when patients who don’t want to stay another hour in hospital say to me “Doctor, when I’m home…” and I do feel like replying “I know…everything seems to be right”.

Sadly it’s hard for many patients to understand that hospital consultants can’t click their fingers and magic up social care or community rehab places; I can see these patients singing Gwen Stefani’s “What you waitin’, what you waitin’ for?”

When it comes to falls resulting from postural instability, then we have to acknowledge the sage words of Miss Meghan Trainor: “It’s all about that Base”

Now over to the readers of this blog, for your suggestions! Nothing disrespectful or inappropriate, please or our Digital Media Editor will be in like Flynn and remove the post,  but if you can think of any more songs for the thread or any more lyrics for those twelve days, we’d like to hear from you!

Finally, let me wish you all a very Happy Christmas. And remember, winter pressures or not, the health service is an immensely rewarding place to work: our colleagues are troupers and caring for people at their neediest is a privileged occupation, however demanding it may be. But perhaps a bit of dark humour can help through the worst two clinical weeks of the year.