Correct policies

The presence of a hospital policy or procedure is not a good marker of actual practice.

I was only half listening, but this quote on Radio 4 from a report of the National Audit of Dementia on the treatment of sufferers in the NHS made me take notice. My second thought was, I don’t walk my own talk, and that is a good thing: I realise that something is right, on an intellectual level or in my heart, and I integrate it into my life over time. I am learning and growing. So a new policy may take time to percolate down through an organisation.

I have heard of care homes with two rotas: the one to show the inspection team if they visit, and the actual rota operated, with fewer staff. That is fraud.

In hospitals, there might be a variety of reasons why the documented policies were not implemented. There might be too great an emphasis on getting the paperwork right, or appearing to have the right policies. The policy requirements might be too detailed: they cannot all be known, and workers are too keen to implement the policies they have actually heard of, to guard their own backs.

I think that if there is a description of how a hospital will operate, it should be correct. Spouting words which do not fit reality harms us all. My friend who used to work with the NHS says that if there is a policy, and it is not followed, at least there is a wrong which can be specified, punished or compensated.

It is in this context that I read NHS slogans such as “your health, your choices”.

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