We can’t change the past but we can change the future

Written by: Sue Lavery, Involvement Network member, The ALLIANCE

Published: 29/03/2017

Photograph of Sue Lavery

Sue, an unpaid carer and member of the ALLIANCE, tells us more about her recent experiences in our latest viewpoint.

On Tuesday 21 March 2017, twenty ALLIANCE involvement network members met with MSPs from the Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee to discuss their experiences of the NHS in Scotland.

As an unpaid carer, it comforts both my mum and I to know that by discussing and alluding to aspects of Mum’s long term conditions and our shared experiences, the future can be a better one for other people.

In this vein, I braved the snowy weather and took part in an event hosted by the Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee to hear the views of 20 of the ALLIANCE’s individual members who live with long term conditions and unpaid carers.  MSPs from across different parties attended the session and asked us directly about our experiences of the NHS in Scotland, about what was good and what we would change.  The session was held to support their ongoing inquiry into NHS Governance.

I greatly respect and appreciate the MSPs’ genuine attempts to hear the voices of those who have experienced both the great good of NHS Scotland but also the wrongs and try to improve things for others.

From my own experience, complaints about the health service are often not dealt with at an early enough point to be effective.  I told committee members that I am concerned that our rights as people who use the health service on a regular basis are fewer in practice than we have as consumers in supermarkets.  I think there should be an immediate hierarchy of people who will actually come to meet the individual/s at the bedside to simply seek timely resolution, trying to resolve the problem/s there and then.  There is a massive bureaucratic delay of complaints when they do not even meet with the complainant and they can take weeks to respond.  It makes you feel that the individual is an A4 bit of paper – not a person.

The Convenor of the Committee, Neil Findlay MSP, and Alison Johnstone MSP both picked up on these points in the Committee’s meeting later that morning.

Watching the Committee’s round up during the formal session, it’s evident that the MSPs have listened carefully about the issues and I thought that many good points were raised by fellow ALLIANCE members, concerns about medication management and record of administration (MAR sheet) and the very logical suggestion of coordinating different hospital appointments into the same day i.e. one visit.

It was well worth standing at a bus stop at 6am to get to Edinburgh even though it snowed…!  I wish the Committee every success with its ongoing inquiry.  We can’t change the past but we can change the future – thanks to our ALLIANCE.

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