Monthly Archives: May 2018

The NHS for When You Just Want to be Sure

I’d been having pains in my chest for a day or so. So, on Saturday morning, I went along to our local A & E at UCL for a checkup. I knew they’d be busy so I took a book and the morning’s copy of The Guardian along to while away the time. I hadn’t been there 10 minutes when I was called in by an extremely kindly nurse who responded to my comment about the speed of response and that I felt a bit like a fraud by saying that, “At your age and with your symptoms, we don’t take any risks”. So I told him what had been happening including a gym session a days or so before.

I was asked return to the waiting room where, soon after, I was called in by another extremely kindly nurse who did an ECG. Again I returned to the waiting room, this time to be called back to give a couple of blood samples. Again, I went back to the waiting room to be called back, by yet another extremely kindly nurse for an X ray of my heart. It seems that I have one! Again I returned to the waiting room, along with constant reassurances, to await the results.

A short while later and in seamless manner, I was called in by someone who seemed more senior, who went through everything for me. My heart could that that of someone considerably younger, my blood tests registered normal, although, as one had clotted, the sample would have to be retaken. So, back into the waiting room to await a recall for the blood test. Not too long a wait and I was called back, again along with apologies, before again returning room. This time, I suspected, for a slightly longer wait. And so it proved to be.

Eventually, I was called back in the by senior member of staff who told me that I was fine. He did, however, say that if I experienced any shortness of breath, I should get back in touch immediately. All this, courteously, seamlessly and relatively speedily from all the staff, when it was all a false alarm. What was evident from all this was a system with an ethos inculcated at all levels and within each and every member of staff.

Now, some years ago, if I remember, the government of the day had a business man to look at the NHS to see what it could improve as an organisation. If my experience is anything to go by, they could have saved themselves the effort. What the NHS has in ethos and effectiveness can’t be measured on a balance sheet. It can, however, be measured by what it means to the country as a whole and, in this case, to one person who just wanted to be sure.

A New Area of Work

Yesterday lunchtime, as a pilot for the area of work that I’m planning to develop, I spent two hours helping a friend to move forward in her career. This involved a detailed look at what she’d done over the years, when she’d done it and for how long. Very much like an extensive and very detailed CV, it included, not just the jobs, but the roles and responsibilities that were involved, likes and dislikes, etc. Like much else in life, the devil is in the detail. In this case, the task involves teasing out those details that most of us take for granted and, as a result, don’t really think about. It also includes those things that we do in our personal lives without realising the skills can be useful in our working lives as well.

In doing this, I use practical examples from my own experience. For example, when, as an unemployed single parent on a job creation scheme, I started work in the voluntary sector, I had to fundraise; something I had no experience of. Central to this was financial planning and budgeting, both these tasks that I wasn’t good at in my personal life. However, with two young children to look after, I realised that I did have experience of drawing up a budget. After all, that was what I did every week before I went to the supermarket. So, my first fundraising budget was based on a simple shopping list. I just hadn’t realised that this was a skill.

This “skills audit” can help to paint a complete picture of someone’s skills and experience and became one of the tools of the trade when I was teaching voluntary committee members how to manage their charities. It also works well for individuals considering changing careers. Now on my 6th career, I like to think that it’s something else that I’ve had experience of. Along with being sacked!

Having done this, we moved on to the more difficult area where, in this case, we looked at how this might aid career development. This can, by its nature, be challenging as the person is helped to put aside long held conceptions and look at what is usually subjective, in a very objective way. This leads on to a series of conclusions and tasks ready for the next session.

So, if you’re considering something similar, please have a look at my recent interview with Mike Blissett in which we discuss the life of “The Accidental Role Model” and how to plan for and execute a career change.

It seems that my friend was pleased as, today, I received a text which read “Mike, many thanks for your time yesterday, it was just what I needed. A detailed looked at my career and pointers to the future. You not only guided me along the journey with ease and enthusiasm, but also challenged my thinking in the nicest possible way. It has helped me to rethink and discover new possibilities. Looking forward to our next session when I make plans for the future”.

I enjoyed it as well as I started, what I hope will be, a new area of work for me too.

Making the World a Better Place

I’ve written about my Aunt Doreen before. Her and her husband Bill took me into their family and made me part of it for 5 years and their values are fundamental to the way I am and the way I behave a whole lifetime later. Doreen, especially, had a number of homilies which she would use and these remain with me to this day. “Please and thank you” don’t cost anything. Neither does “a smile”. However the one that is carved into my heart is “Do what you believe to be the right thing and you’ll get your rewards”. This last one patently not so, except how Doreen, in her usual slightly obscure way, meant it. The reward, you see, may not be financial but it certainly will be in the satisfaction that you get in what you do and, as importantly, the way that you do it. Now I’m not saying that I always do the right thing, however, like most people, I do try. Or, at least, I have tried since that day 42 years ago when I found myself on “The Other Side of the Doors” from the life I used to lead.

Perhaps that’s why I was so at odds with life in the army where you were expected to obey orders, without question. Although you could always complain afterwards; when it may well have been too late. Maybe it’s also what sustains me when I survey the society that we live in today in this country and find myself at odds with that too; even more so. Indeed, the situation makes me determined to continue, in my own small way, doing what I feel to be right. I think it’s what most people do when push comes to shove.

So, whenever you have a choice in life, don’t just consider the outcome; the means don’t necessarily justify the ends. After all, if you are nothing else, you are, at least, a role model for your children and what they get from you, often many years after you’re no longer around, will inform their own behaviour. Just as my Aunt Doreen and Uncle Bill did for me. So, it’s not only the “sins of the fathers” (for which read “parents”) that pass on but many other things to. So try to make sure that what you leave behind is positive. By such small acts is the world made a better place.