Is there such a thing as NHS Anxiety?
Going into an NHS hospital is stressful.
The journey can be long and create anxiety. NHS Anxiety!
First a recognition of something wrong with personal health. Then a visit to the GP. Going for tests. Then waiting for test results. Back to GP. Results confirmed. Then referred to a consultant. Decision on course of treatment. Treatment organised. Bed available. Treatment finished. Discharge home. Evaluation of independent living made. Carry on with life.
The idea of the NHS as being the provider of free health care across the UK cannot be denied.
The history of NHS is a romantic look back to post war Britian.
The population supports it. Hospitals and nurses are used as emotive topics to gain influence at a local government and central government level. The NHS remains almost untouchable.
Yet the journey through a treatment plan in the NHS is fraught with anxiety. The services involved do not speak to one another. Each have different communication styles and relay different amounts of information. Some professionals are relaxed at giving difficult diagnoses; others have to be asked, with some it has to be demanded.
What the NHS cannot seem to do is manage anxiety in a consistent joined up way.
This can spoil what is an excellent medical service.
The anxiety is held in two areas: relationships to medical professionals, and dissemination of information.
In relationships consultants’ personal assistants, reception staff, & nurses seem much better at dealing with patients’ anxiety. Predominantly women they appear more practiced at dealing with people who are coming into the NHS with appointments and medical histories. They are kind, make time and listen to the patients’ concerns.
In relationships GPs and Consultants appear less experienced at dealing with patients’ anxiety.
Perhaps this is something to do with the medical model. It is interested only in what is wrong with the patient. A more holistic view of the person is seen as beneficial but perhaps a side event compared with the essential life-saving procedure? Are GPs and consultants much more focused on the medical model? They perform the diagnoses, surgeries and treatments. Would we prefer excellent surgeons with no people skills, or good surgeons with people skills?
Freud understood the power of medical model. and the medical establishment. He had to convince the medical establishment of his theories of psychoanalysis for his work to gain recognition. A balancing act: between having his theories accepted but also inventing an alternative to the medical model.
The other source of NHS anxiety is the dissemination of information which can be unclear. No simple explanation of the referral system, and no clear stepped route into treatment. For instance being told that a procedure is needed as soon as possible, then having to wait a week for a bed space. The message is unclear: if it is clear that surgery is needed, why the wait for a bed? This lack of clarity adds weight to privatising the NHS.
It also ramps up anxiety for the patient. Is wanting clarity a wish? The medical model for all its science and technology is not clear. GPs and consultants do not know. The body is not predictive, and does not give clear signals.
Would a clearer consistent message about not knowing increase our anxiety in a potential life and death situation? Perhaps the NHS should rumble along as it does?
Copyright Adrian Scott North London Counsellor Blog 2013
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Disclaimer: This weblog is the view of the writer and for general information only.
This article is designed to provoke argument and critique.