Chris Roy­croft-Davis

Sunday Express - - Front Page -

into the car park ma­chine. That’s why the Daily Ex­press cru­sade to force NHS trusts to give pa­tients a fair deal was so vi­tally im­por­tant and why Health Sec­re­tary Jeremy Hunt acted so swiftly to im­pose new rules that will mean free park­ing for the se­ri­ously ill.

Now he needs to get tough in hos­pi­tal kitchens be­cause the stan­dard of food served on many wards is de­plorably low. In many cases the food’s so bad that pa­tients are ac­tu­ally grate­ful the por­tion sizes are tiny.

A healthy, nu­tri­tious meal is a vi­tal part of get­ting well and look­ing for­ward to a tasty lunch or din­ner does won­ders for a pa­tient’s mood. Happy pa­tients re­ally do feel bet­ter quicker.

Yes­ter­day for the first time an NHS web­site pub­lished a league ta­ble of healthy food choices for hos­pi­tals fol­low­ing a 12-month re­view led by the char­ity Age UK. So we’re mak­ing progress.

An­other lit­tle thing that makes a big dif­fer­ence is be­ing able to com­mu­ni­cate eas­ily with the nurse or doc­tor. The num­ber of nurses from the EU has dou­bled in the past four years to al­most 21,000 but in­cred­i­bly EU laws mean the nurs­ing watch­dog is banned from test­ing how well they can speak English be­cause some Brus­sels gauleiter has de­creed it would im­pinge on their free­dom of move­ment. No, I don’t get it ei­ther.

Hos­pi­tals are no place for pet­ti­fog­ging rules. Surely the safety and well­be­ing of pa­tients should be the first pri­or­ity, not whether Made­moi­selle Dubois or Fraulein Sch­midt are put out be­cause they can’t speak our lingo and have to work in their own coun­tries.

In my ex­ten­sive ex­pe­ri­ence of the NHS – with two sons who play rugby the fam­ily joke is that we should have a sea­son ticket to A&E – the big­gest prob­lems for pa­tients are caused by rules that seem de­signed solely for the ben­e­fit of bu­reau­crats.

When my daugh­ter needed den­tal treat­ment at a hos­pi­tal, she couldn’t keep one ap­point­ment be­cause it clashed with a

‘We need to get tough

on hos­pi­tal food’

GCSE exam. Then we dis­cov­ered her new ap­point­ment clashed with an­other exam – but the rules said her ap­point­ment couldn’t be re­ar­ranged a sec­ond time: she’d have to be re­ferred again by her den­tist.

Luck­ily, the kind lady at re­cep­tion bent the rules at the risk of get­ting a tick­ing off from her su­per­vi­sor and we were so grate­ful we wrote a let­ter to the hos­pi­tal prais­ing her in case she faced dis­ci­plinary ac­tion.

WHEN my elder son frac­tured his skull I was over­whelmed by the kind­ness shown by the nurses to­wards my shocked wife and me. Cups of tea were swiftly made and when the staff found out we’d driven three hours to get to the hos­pi­tal, sand­wiches and fruit mirac­u­lously ap­peared.

Those are the lit­tle touches that make the NHS such a marvel. You’ve prob­a­bly seen them too: the nurse who combs your hair be­fore vis­it­ing time; the porter whose friendly chat puts you at ease as he wheels you down for your op­er­a­tion; the cleaner who smiles as she mops round your bed; the doc­tors who talk to you, not about you, as they do their rounds and make you feel like a per­son, not a statis­tic.

Some­one once said that true great­ness con­sists of be­ing great in lit­tle things. We should hang that quo­ta­tion in ev­ery ward, wait­ing room and of­fice in the NHS.

LUNCH BREAK: Health Sec­re­tary Jeremy Hunt helps out in a hos­pi­tal kitchen

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