The plan had been to explain to people the why, what, where of my trip to India.
We are heading-out, a small contingent of NHS from Rotherham on the 17th of May, Mumbai via Abu Dhabi – which is the capital of the United Arab Emirates, not Scooby’s catchphrase.
I wrote a couple of months ago about the biggest challenge facing the NHS – at least to my eyes – the crisis of workforce that has come at a perfect time of exit from Europe, increasing needs of a population with escalating long-term health and social care needs, poor workforce planning by the doyens of nursing, medicine and therapy – and, the rush to retire for anyone 55 and above, to maximise their pension, make the most of their life before death and, before the age limit is increased.
The conditions are ideal for chaos.
Amidst this mess there is of course the doctor and nurse poaching which I have also described; don’t work there, that place is going to be taken-over, privatised, subsumed; it is doomed, come to us, we’ll offer you a couple of thousand more, and, throw-in a desk; this workforce escalation, inflation, is of course great for the employees – limited supply controls demand, yet, when the well is dry, it is dry.
And so, a potential solution, beyond luring back fit and healthy retirees to the workplace, is to head to India, Bangladesh and Nigeria and re-route their docs to the UK; not ringing the final dregs out of the Empire, just facilitating free-trade, movement of individuals and learning.
Create a pathway to compromise the health and wellbeing of people in developing countries. Hurrah.
It’s not that simple.
You see, there exists a clinical orthodoxy, a hierarchy in some nations which is even more arcane than that of the UK, with those on the top not necessarily hoarding the power or skills, but probably, likely, rushed off their feet meeting the demands of a service that is top-heavy, that hasn’t restructured. Where the specialist is very special, and the demands of the patients can only be met by a select few.
Below this tier of top-docs are bulging numbers of fellows keen to progress to develop their abilities and learning who can’t move-on, who, like the NHS of thirty years ago are trapped at a certain level of seniority, running the service, yet hamstrung by the social and hierarchical norms.
This is where we come to help, to offer not an escape from their country of origin, but a co-created, collaborative package of development where they workforce abilities of people keen to learn and grow combine with the requirements of organisational sophistication aka the NHS which is teetering under its own weight of protocols and guidance.
We plan to bring back doctors to work in the UK for two years, to support them in adapting to life in the West in return for their help with our workforce problems.
Fait accompli. Getting it done so we can all move-on and do what we are meant to be doing, caring, treating, supporting.
And me, what most excites me?
It will be the cultural acclimatisation, the demonstration of the power of person-centred care, palliative support and advance care planning, those low-cost, high emotional return activities that we have lovingly developed in the UK to allow for better care, more sympathetic treatment of patients, carers and staff.
It almost seems too good to be true.
Between there and now there is lots of work to do, lots of planning, negotiating, discussing, reflecting on induction processes, enabling, facilitating. It promises to be fun. Something unexpected.