Patient care or keeping up appearances?

An interesting story from a leading Foundation Trust hospital in London. I got this from a Unite rep in Pathology.

In the good old days back in the dim and distant past, samples from Theatre were taken straight up to the Path labs. Then, a few years ago, there was a cost saving measure and Pathology staff were expected to come down to Theatre to pick up the samples themselves.
There were no great problems. Samples were kept on a short-term basis on a trolley behind Theatre reception. Lab staff popped down as and when necessary. It was a simple enough system, and it worked.

Recently, a senior manager decided that it was unsightly to have test tubes in plastic boxes sat on a trolly behind Theatre reception. The instruction was given – samples had to be stored at the other end of the Theatre unit. So now, Pathology staff walk past the door of every operating theatre, wearing lab coats that have been worn for up to a week, wearing their outdoor shoes, simply in order to pick up the samples to take back to the Path lab. The risk of infection has absolutely soared – but, hey, Theatre reception looks a lot better.

Staff have, of course, pointed out the risks. They have not been listened to. The manager isn’t from a clinical or scientific background, and isn’t that interested. The focus in the NHS these days is less and less about patient care, and more and more about keeping up appearances or hitting meaningless targets.


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