Learning about the NHS and how healthcare comms works has been a real learning curve.
Moving to any new role can be pretty daunting so I’m really appreciative of all the advice and tips from friends and colleagues on getting started in the NHS (a particular shout to Caroline Latta and Darren Caveney for their words of wisdom)
I think the very first thing that becomes obvious is that the NHS across the UK is a huge sprawling system that’s currently going through a period of pretty radical change.
I’m not sure anyone knows exactly how it all hangs together just yet, but this great video from the Kings Trust is probably the best explanation I’ve seen so far: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CSp6HsQVtw
The second thing to say is that – more than anywhere else I’ve worked – the healthcare environment is a landscape of many, many acronyms. At the minute I barely know my ICU from my ECC or my ECGs from my MSU’s – that’s something I’m working on.
I’m also finding that it’s an institution that is very aware of its purpose and history, staffed full of really committed, passionate people.
Most of the myths and stereotypes about the NHS have been quickly dispelled and I’ve been really struck at the focus of everyone (not just the clinicians) on how their role impacts the patient.
There’s a real dogged focus on how everything we do must be focused on the patient and the organisation constantly reinforces that vision, in a way that probably isn’t the case in local government.
The other thing that strikes me is how broad the communications challenge can be with both the public and staff. It’s not just about patients and medical staff but also how we interact with a huge list of partners and an employee base that includes world leading surgeons and hospital cleaners.
People I’ve spoken to have been interested in how it compares with local government structurally and I suppose it’s much less bureaucratic in some areas and much more so in others (sorry no black and white answers there).
One of the most senior people at the Trust gave me some great advice which really struck a chord – Don’t go native too soon.
Now, some more prosaic observations:
I’m literally walking miles and miles every day – hospital sites are huge!
Being mistaken for doctor several times has amused me greatly and I like to think it’s a striking similarity to the George Clooney character in ER, but I suspect it’s probably more that it looks like I’ve just done a 19 hour shift on A&E (permanently).
I’m rocking a bleeper on my belt clip like it’s 1992 (It’s so you can be contacted in parts of the hospital where there’s no mobile coverage or you have to turn your phone off)
Tweeting pictures of cake isn’t the preserve of local govt. I managed to sneak one out on my second week on the job. One of the nurses made it to celebrate national nursing day.