Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Time Wasting NHS Style

There's a story on the BBC website this morning about a crisis within A & E Departments because of staff shortages and non emergent cases presenting.

This brought to mind an amusing incident that happened whilst I was visiting a relative at a West Yorkshire hospital in 2011. I've put together a larger post on this subject on my Talk Health blog (click on the link to the right to view this) but here's an excerpt that makes the point.

In October/November  2011 I spent a great deal of time at Pinderfields Hospital in Pontefract. A relative spent several weeks in intensive care and then recuperating in their geriatric department. As a consequence I have I feel a unique insight into the world of vending machine stocking at this hospital. You see I spent many a long hour sitting in the relatives waiting area outside ICU and three times a day a man would appear with a trolley full of crisps, chocolate bars and cans of fizzy pop and each time he would spend an average of 15 minutes (I eventually timed him) opening the machine, checking the content, replacing used items and shuffling items around within the shelves of the machine. His routine never varied, nor did it ever take any more or less time, regardless of how full the machine was (sometimes it had literally not been used between visits - again I was there long enough to know this for a fact). Lets run the maths - assume there are four floors within this hospital, four vending machines on each floor - that's sixteen machines, each with 15 minute re-fills three times a day - that works out at 12 hours per day. I would imagine therefore that in fact there were probably two or three people exclusively performing this one task across the hospital to take into account break/lunch times and the need for holiday cover - three people to do a task which, lets face it any sane, normal person could manage in less than 120 seconds - or even in zero time - if the machine is full it doesn't need opening up and messing about with - so you go on to another task instead. I could have replaced that team of three myself and performed the entire task in a couple of hours. But this is not the NHS way apparently.
Obviously the above calculation does not take into account someone coming along to empty the cash from the vending machine, which I never saw but presumably they paid someone else to do this !

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