Matt Morgan’s short piece in the BMJ this week “doctors’ messes are not just about food” talks about how a place where staff can meet, talk, eat, solve problems and socialise privately are a thing of the past.
He comments that non-public communal spaces of times gone by should not be seen as simply places where people ate “in reality, they contributed to the delivery of medicine: cross speciality working, with co-morbidities being balanced by teams across multi-disciplinary tribes.”
His article ends “I long for nuanced conversation in that lost space. Please can we bring it back?”
As a medical negligence practitioner specialising in complex injury and dealing with the aftermath of spinal injuries, cerebral palsy, and cases where families have lost loved ones I recognise that the current culture of “the land grab of modern hospital services” has had the effect of stripping away areas where collaboration and “nuanced medicine” can happen.
In a system where we are asking the NHS to deliver ever more complex solutions, whilst also demanding teamwork and reflective practice it seems to me that society must also demand a space for these things to happen. The benefits would be multiple: to identify just two, it would boost staff morale and encourage a holistic approach to patients (as Matt Morgan has identified). Both of these have a positive impact on patient safety which is, of course, the angle I came from.
Perhaps as we move into the next decade a more people centric NHS (by people I mean patients, medics, nurses and support staff) should be our New Year’s wish. One of the starting points on a wish list for that service could be the acknowledgement of the need for this area, a reinvention of this “lost space”.
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About the author
Kate Rohde is a Partner in the Clinical Negligence and Personal Injury department and an experienced specialist in clinical negligence claims of all types, often acting for bereaved families or on behalf of children and adults who have suffered permanent and profound injuries.