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Fallen Empires

Colin Campbell
by Colin Campbell on 15/04/18 18:00


I watched #Hospital the other night (I have blogged about this before and I’ll probably blog about it every week).

It is shocking television, but shocking in the right way.

I only hope that every who watches it has the ability to process it in the right way and to extrapolate the lessons in hospital to themselves, to their own communities and to their own hospitals.

During that episode, I saw some of the characters from Queens Medical Centre in Nottingham that I knew from my time working there, or who I had associations with in more recent times. 

I saw colleagues that my wife works with on a day to day basis.

Much of that episode was centred on a Scottish ENT Surgeon who had come to do a 2 months Locum post until a new Head and Neck Surgeon was appointed.

He was still there 18 months later and begging to leave.

He had decided he couldn’t work in the NHS anymore and him and his wife were to move to the USA where he explained that as a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon his wife could earn a starting salary of $500,000 a year. 

He also explained that the starting salary for a Consultant in the UK was £77,000 a year. A job advert from the Head and Neck Cancer Surgeon at Queens was shown on the program at that starting salary. The manager of the Head and Neck Surgery department explained that there were 10 or 11 such vacancies in the UK and almost no one training.

I know this to be the case from my friends who work in Head and Neck surgery in different parts of the country. We created a system that the NHS now functions within that we all wanted and we all bought into.

We want low cost, low tax and maximum disposable income to buy electrical products, our new cars and our foreign holidays.

The trouble is, our iPhones become less exciting (how many people have shown you an iPhone X and how excited did you become when you saw it?) but the demand for removing our tumours and fixing our heart disease just gets greater.

Jeremy Hunt created a marketplace in the health service, that is what he said and that is what he wanted.

‘The market will find its value’.

Well it has, it did, and nowhere clearer than in the National Health Service.

The Scottish ENT Surgeon has gone. He was in his 50’s and in the episode, at least, came across as an extraordinarily committed and empathic individual who wanted to make a difference.

We chased him away from the NHS by providing him with an environment where he ‘could not even take a breath’. He was unable to explore his creativity and unable to enjoy his work due to the stress and pressure he was put under.

How many others have we lost like this?

How many others have we lost due to the burden of compliance?

Salary is what is known in business as a ‘hygiene factor’. Above an appropriate level it matters very little, what matters is leadership, conditions, feeling of self-worth and being valued.

In the televised meeting when the senior members of Head and Neck Cancer team were talking about replacing the Scottish ENT Surgeon he was asked not to comment as it was inappropriate because he was leaving.

What we have seen on the first 2 episodes of this programme is that the conditions, the environment and the culture that the NHS is able to provide for all of us, its staff is not enough to retain the best ones.

Something is going to have to be done about this, it may cost some of us our iPhone X’s and a few Sky TV channels to pay for it.

The next thing that will happen is that a politician with a lump in their throat will turn around and find no surgeon to cut it out.


Blog post number: 1613

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Colin Campbell
Written by Colin Campbell
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