This blog has been quiet for a while. Things twinkle as they happen and I think 'I must blog about that, it's interesting' but it doesn't fit inside the remit of this blog, nor the other one, and so it never gets written. So consider this a pre-emptive shot in a volley which I suspect will take in health, politics, society, change, communications and social media. For me, those subjects are tied very closely together because I see health, politics and society through a social media filter, as most of my news and information comes from that source - but I don't think that negates the ability to comment on those subjects, simply that my view might be offset by 45 degrees. As the title might suggest, I'll try and give some indication on what the subject matter might be in an effort to aid peoples manipulation of the insta back button manoeuvre.
Despite never giving birth, the event in most womens lives which necessitates a reliance on the NHS, I've been unfortunate enough to require health assistance on a few occasions. Being the sort of person who'd rather avoid interaction with complicated services unless absolutely forced to, I'm the kind of idiot who ends up needing twice the help initially needed because I leave it too long before mentioning there might be a problem. Currently I'm playing collect the specialist. Which is irrelevant to this post, except that it's not, because this is why I have discovered a fatal flaw in the NHS communication system. Or at least, I think it's ridiculous. Others may know why this state of affairs persist, and I'd be appreciative of being disabused of my perceptions but frankly, it's a joke.
It just seems important in this assumption jumping age, that I make it absolutely, completely and utterly clear that the NHS has actually saved my life on one occasion, is responsible for my teeth not resembling a disorganised graveyard, ensured I could see when I was 12 and we couldn't afford glasses, have sorted out untold results of my tomboy leanings and have done all of these things with patience, grace and kindness in a framework which is clearly, and I do mean clearly, screaming and groaning under the pressure which us humans are putting on the system on a daily basis. They've done their very best in helping a rather complicated problem become unravelled, piece by piece, and yes, sometimes some people are not kind or gracious or patient, sometimes the odd one or two people in the system are rude, ignorant and insulting, but my experience, on the whole, comes out with a clear and flashing 9 out of 10. I would be absolutely lost without them right now.
So, disclaimers out of the way, please tell me this.
Why does specialist A who I see on a 6 months basis, communicate with specialist B, who I see on a 3 month basis, via letter?
They work in the same hospital.
They work 1 floor apart.
It can't be the audit trail. Email leaves trails. Emails are stored on servers which are backed up. Emails can be enterprise vaulted, compressed into tiny little kilobytes, and forgotten about until needed to be retrieved for enquiries or analysis. Emails, more to the point, are instant. You don't have to read them when they arrive, they can be parked. They can even be farmed off to your secretary who can filter them, decide which ones are important, and flag them for you in a nice colour of purple so you know they're not that urgent, or red if they are.
Letters are flammable. They are not backed up. They are one instance of something which when destroyed may as well have never existed. They take a while to be delivered, they cost money to be delivered, hell they cost money to be printed. They are inefficient, temporary, damp ridden effigies of a pre-internet age. (Disclaimers here are made for letters between non-professionals. I'm not for a second saying they don't have a place, I'm really not, we're talking about professional arenas here)
So why the hell are two intelligent human beings, smarter, way way smarter than I, still talking to each other like the year 2000 never happened? What am I missing here? Am I missing something, or do we have a health care system which may be so resolutely stuck in a pre-internet age that we're never going to get them out again? Who's responsible for getting them out? Do they understand IT and it's possibilities, capabilities and limitations? Or are they contractors, another example of the national rip off, geeks gone to the other side who see only pound signs and not the ability to earn a decent living but also change the world in the process?
Sadly, I suspect the latter. Sadly, because once upon a time, I didn't believe there were good geeks and bad geeks. The figures coming out of Whitehall in recent weeks regarding IT projects have finally smashed that belief into pieces. Now I know there really are good geeks and bad geeks and that we need to find a way for government and the public sector to differentiate and pretty damn quickly because otherwise we will be forever stuck in a world where the NHS is 10 years behind the rest of the world and operating inefficiently because of it.
And I don't want that, and neither, I suspect, does anyone else. Apart from those bloody contractors who I could merrily put in stocks.