Everything, it seems, is being “improved” all the time. My e-mail program has been improved so much that it now takes ages just to boot up and then it doesn’t run, it crawls. And as for Google Maps and Streetview!!!! They’ve been improved so much as to be completely unusable. So when my GP Surgery announced their “improved” super-dooper all-electronic straight-to-the-pharmacy prescription system, I remembered the equation NHS + IT = CHAOS and thought that this was the end of civilization as we know it.
But I’m mightily impressed. As usual I put in my 2-monthly repeat-prescription request on-line just after midnight last night, and I was expecting to pick my meds up from Boots, Low Fell on Wednesday afternoon. But no. At 11.40 this morning I received a little text message “Dear Brian, your prescription is now ready to collect. Boots Gateshead Low Fell 01914 823 776”. And it was. An actual NHS IT success.
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We hear so many horror stories about the NHS, but I must say that my own experiences as a patient, a carer and a visitor have been almost 100% positive. Today I visited an elderly person in Ward 22 of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital here in Gateshead. This ward is devoted to the care of stroke patients, and what magnificent care they receive. The ward is clean and tidy and very well staffed. All the patients are in small side wards with two beds and an en-suite toilet. Thankfully it seems that the person I was visiting has every chance of making a full recovery and was cheerful and well, but the other person sharing the room was in a most distressed state – and throughout our 75-minute visit, there were one or two staff in constant attendance. And they couldn’t have been more caring if the patient had been a parent. Despite the serious illness in the ward, it was a happy place – from doctors and nurses to the tea ladies, everyone smiled and was pleasant and cheerful. Well done to the staff of Ward 22 and indeed to the NHS Foundation Trust which provides such great service.