Posted Mar 16, 2013
DAN DAN DAAAAHHHH!!!!
Blimey, I didn't realise it, but it's a year since I've been in here!
It's been a bit hectic. We've spent much of it sorting out the house, and it's still in progress. I'm currently sat at a custom made desk in my loft. We got builders in to do a proper job of the structural work, building a proper staircase, and getting everything to regulations. Once the hefty work was done, I finished off, and now have a respectable hideaway - and a place to store all my crap, as Gina so nicely puts it.
Next on the agenda was a decent set of doors and windows. Once again, left to someone who knows what they were doing, and now the house has openings which close without needing to be slammed!
Then came my first real DIY project - an upstairs loo. I've managed to teach myself how to build stud walls, plaster, tile, plumb, and wire (with help from YouTube, and my nephew, who is a qualified electrician!). I'm quite chuffed with the results, and we only had one major leak, when a push-fit pipe joint came apart, blowing mains pressure water all over the place for a few minutes. That job is sort-of finished. The room is built like an en-suite in our bedroom, but with a door onto the hallway so the kids can use it too. Inside, it looks really good. Outside (which is our bedroom) it is still just bare plasterboard. A good few weekends' work are required to get this finished.
Mid April will see the delivery of a new kitchen. I want this fitted by someone who knows what they are doing, rather than by me, but at least I am having the fun of ripping out the old one myself.
Only the rest of our bedroom, the hallway, stairs and living room to go then. Oh, and the now badly rotten decking.
I received word this week that I have passed my NVQ course that I have been studying over the past 18 months. This now means I am qualified to apply for a higher grade post in the lab. This looks like being a possibility in April once the new budget is sorted. Due to the work I needed to do for the course, I could only use the hospital computer network, so I couldn't do any work at home. This meant that almost every lunchtime for the past 18 months has been spent working. Now I've finished, I have found that I'm lost on a lunchtime - I'll have to see if the cyber cafe still works!
One thing I've noticed is that I'm getting tired on an evening. Possibly a combination of the studying at work and the DIY at home, but my frequent stay-up-until-4am nights are a thing of the past. I can manage one such night a week, and the rest of the time I'm falling asleep in front of the tv by 10pm! I think I'm getting old...
Enough about me - family wise, The Missus is currently part way through a special diet to try to sort out what is causing her IBS. She had to cut out everything except rice, tomatoes, cod and bananas for ten days. Absolutely nothing else, no herbs, flavourings or sauces. After ten days, she's been allowed one addition every two days. Bit by bit she's added chicken, bacon, pasta, onions... we've so far discovered that apples are a "trigger", which caused her terrible cramps, so no more apples for her. It's a long process, but one which is helping her live with a crippling problem.
Lily is now at college, having passed her GCSEs. She is studying Health and Social Care, with the aim of becoming a nurse. She's passed an interview at the hospital where I work to gain a placement one day a week as part of her course. We were really proud when she won the place - it is one of only 8 placements the hospital offers, and there were about 100 other applicants! She's done five days so far, in the Acute Assessment Unit, which is one of the busiest parts of the hospital. She has dealt with a huge variety of patients, and is gaining real hands on experience, doing everything from changing incontinence pads and feeding patients, to dressing a confused old lady who kept stripping naked, and helping wrap a body prior to it being removed to the morgue. We're really proud of how well she's coping with a very stressful placement.
Heather is almost ready to hit her teenage years. She started secondary school in September, and after a bad start (she was picked on by a number of bullies) she's settling in well now. She seems to be doing well, and has made a good friend who lives just up the road from us.
Altogether, we're so much happier than we were at the old house. The move was worth every bit of the upheaval. We're gradually getting it how we want, and one way or another we're all progressing. This really was a new start for us all.
Speaking of change... I've had a slight alteration in the hair department! It was Red Nose Day today (well, technically yesterday now). In order to raise a few quid, I asked everyone at work to sponsor me to have my hair, beard and moustache shaved off. I've managed to raise roughly £400 for Comic Relief, and the results can be seen here - www.picasaweb.google.com/116606307677157600117/ComicReliefHaircut
I'm currently sat in my loft, wearing my H2G2 beanie hat - my head's freezing!! I've had my beard and 'tache pretty much constantly for the past 16 years, and had hair since the day I was born, so it all feels extremely odd. I've been reliably informed by Gina that I am gowing it back as soon as possible, and I'm not arguing!!
I'm sorry I haven't been around lately, I'll try to get back into the hang of it now my course is finished...
Latest reply: Mar 16, 2013
Hoggy gets annoyed...
Posted Mar 27, 2012
This is a long one, make yourself a cuppa!
A while ago the whole of Pathology (which includes a number of laboratories around the hospital) was invited to a “time-out” meeting. It was a sort of team-building thing, and was kicked off by a talk from the Chief Executive of Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, Phil Morley.
To say his talk went down rather badly would be an understatement. Apparently it was meant to be motivational. However, it came across as patronising and insulting. Most of us were left feeling very angry by some of the things he said. Those of you who follow me on Facebook may have been somewhat surprised by my reaction at the time – I don’t often use language like that! Fortunately he left straight after his speech. Had he been present at the coffee break soon after, I would very probably have said something I would later regret. In fourteen years of working in the lab, I have never felt as angry as I did then.
One bit stuck in my throat more than the rest. The local hospital trust has recently made a big deal about its new “Visions”. Mr Morley asked for a show of hands of those who knew them all – not many. In a very accusing voice, like a teacher telling off a child, he said “Those who don’t know them should be ashamed of yourselves! Where’ve you been? What have you been doing?”
Next day I was still fuming, and decided to answer this in person, so made an appointment to see him. The earliest slot I could get was a full month after, but this worked to my advantage, as I was able to write a “script” for myself, rather than going in unprepared, and just shooting my mouth off. Finally my time came, and despite my colleagues asking “When’s your leaving do?” I made my way to the Chief Executive’s office. I apologised for reading from a script, and explained that I was not very good at speaking out. This is what I read:
I’m a pathology support worker in Microbiology. I have been for 14 years. I’ve had a few jobs in my past, none of which I’ve wanted to stick at for more than a year, for a number of reasons; the conditions I worked in, or the people I worked with, for example. However, in Micro, I feel I am part of a team, and I enjoy working alongside my colleagues.
While I can’t honestly say I wake up every morning and think “Whoopee, it’s another day at work!” I also don’t get depressed at the thought – on the whole, it’s a nice place to be.
Last month I chose to go to the Time Out session. We were told it wasn’t compulsory, but I wanted to go – any opportunity to improve the workplace, and receive feedback from the questionnaire is worthy of my time.
Sadly, though, it left me feeling very angry, and disheartened. I missed much of what was said, as, to be honest, I found it very difficult to concentrate after something which was said near the beginning.
You asked for a show of hands from those who knew the Trust’s Visions. Probably about 10% put their hands up. I admit, I don’t know them.
You then told us “If you don’t know them, you should be ashamed of yourself!”
This was followed closely by “if you don’t know them, where have you been? What have you been doing?”
I’d like to answer that.
My scheduled hours are 8.30am to 5pm. In the two months prior to the Time Out, there were about 5 days on which I left at 5. Every other day I remained behind, to ensure that everything that had had come in late, due to the poor transport system, had been completed as necessary. Few samples on that delivery are classed as urgent, but I made sure that those that were got done. This often meant staying until 5.15, or 5.20, and at times 5.30. This has a knock on effect on my wife and children, as we believe strongly in having tea together as a family. However, it is my job, and I am willing to make sure it gets done properly, even if it means I’m late home.
That is what I have been doing.
In the time I’ve worked here, the workload has increased a great deal. As an example, when I started, we processed 40 to 50 MRSA swabs a day. Currently we process about 6 or 7 hundred. Overall, the staff levels have not increased significantly, and we are all finding ourselves working harder to compensate. If one of us has a lull in our samples, we head around the lab, to see if someone else needs a hand, which more often than not, they do. We work as a team.
That is what I have been doing.
When a sample arrives with a form that hasn’t been filled out correctly, the policy is to reject the sample, and get on with everything else. However, if I can make time, I will try to sort out the problem, usually with a call to a GP. This shows the Trust in a good light, as they see us trying to solve a problem, rather than just getting a “Not Tested” report a few days later. Ultimately, it means that a patient is getting the care they need, rather than getting a call from their doctor, which would probably be along the lines of “Oh, the lab’s messed up again, can you send in another sample”. So I’ve saved the face of the trust in the patient’s eyes, made us look more efficient in the GP’s eyes, and provided the patient with a better service – all for a little effort on my part.
That is what I’ve been doing.
Sometimes I *do* have a bit of spare time – I’ve completed all my samples, and the next delivery still hasn’t arrived. That is when I head for a computer, and read up on Q-Pulse. I’m not sure if you’re aware of the system, but whenever a laboratory document is published or revised, it is placed online, and we must read it, and acknowledge it. Sometimes a revision might be just one paragraph out of a 21 page document, but the system is unable to highlight the change, so we have to read the full document again. This takes time, but it is important, as it allows me to complete my job in an accurate and efficient manner.
That is what I have been doing.
For the past six months or so I have been studying for an NVQ in order to gain a qualification I need to further my career. I didn’t have the confidence to do anything like this, but have been hugely encouraged by the training officer at the lab, who has been a great help in getting me this placement. Much of the work I need to do requires access to the Trust network, so I am unable to do it at home. As such, my spare time at lunch has been taken up with my studies. It’s hard, but I’m having a go, and making myself a better worker in the process.
That is what I have been doing.
You also said “if you don’t want to be part of the top trust, I can find you a job behind a till in Tescos”. Perhaps what you should have said was “If you *DO* want to be part of the top trust, I’ll help you all I can”. If you’d stayed to listen to the meeting, you’d have seen that the overwhelming consensus was that we all *do* want to be able to do our jobs, to a high degree, but feel unable to, because of a lack of support, both financial and moral. The latter does seem to be slowly changing now, within the laboratory at least.
You asked us what sort of a car you thought Pathology was. Someone jokingly said “a 25year old Ford Fiesta”, which you were obviously unimpressed with.
You said you wanted us to be an Aston Martin.
Supercars like that are very pretty to look at, very fast, but ultimately not very useful. They cost far too much to run, are inefficient, and ultimately not particularly practical.
I see Pathology as a Ford Transit. Well used, overloaded, minimally serviced, but still struggling on, working hard. Even as more work gets piled on, we still keep going. Ford advertised the Transit as “The Backbone Of Britain” – well we’re the backbone of the Trust.
Incidentally, when someone fires up the ignition on an Aston Martin, the dashboard display flashes up the words “Power, Beauty, Soul”. Very nice words, but they make no difference to the actual performance of the car. In the same way, whether or not I know the five “I – words” of the Trust’s Vision, I still come to work, and carry out my job to the best of my ability, often doing that bit extra in order to make things run just that bit smoother. As a result, I *do* feel that I make a difference. I *am* proud of my work, I *am* proud of the team I work with, and yes, I *do* feel that I’m in the top 100.
Am I ashamed of myself?
I just feel let down.
Once I'd read that out, we had a chat for about 15 minutes. He also ate the slice of cake I'd taken (He'd made the comment at the meeting "You're always welcome to come for a chat - bring cake, I like cake"), which Heather had baked.
I got a proper apology, which did sound genuine. He also listened to other problems I raised, the main ones being that both on an individual level, and as a lab, we don't feel listened to, and that the transport system which brings the samples to the labs from GPs' surgeries is getting steadily worse, which is resulting in a poor service from us. At one point he mentioned how he visited all the labs - I quickly pointed out that he visited all the labs except ours. He didn't turn up to see ours, and didn't even let us know he wasn't coming, which annoyed everyone.
He promised to look into what he could, and arranged to spend a full morning in the Microbiology lab, when I could give him a tour of the lab (gulp!).
I went back to the lab, and had to go through the meeting about ten times, as different people wanted to know how my meeting went - first of all wanting to know if I still had a job, after standing up to the boss of the local NHS! Those who aren't managent are impressed I've guilted him into spending a morning in the lab - I'm not entirely sure the lab manager was too keen on the idea, but we have at least got 3 months to make the lab look as tired and needy as we can!
The next day I received a phonecall from the head of Transport and Infrastructure, wanting to arrange a meeting with me to discuss the specimen transport system! Yikes! I pointed out that I am the lowest of the low in the lab, she'd be better speaking with the lab manager. No, says she, she was contacted by the Chief Executive, I was the one who raised the problem, they'd like to ask for my input, and want to arrange a meeting. I pointed out that if I went to a meeting and rearranged the transport service without discussing it with my boss, I might tread on the wrong toes! I gave her my boss' number, but said I was quite willing to sit in on any meeting. Sadly, my boss pointed out that as it is a problem affecting the whole of pathology (four different labs on the site), it was better being dealt with by the manager of the whole department, rather than just the one lab.
So, I've said my piece, spoken up, still have my job, and it seems that I may have made some difference. It takes a lot to get me riled, but when I do, I hit back right at the top!
Oh, and he asked me to tell Heather that the cake was delicious!
Latest reply: Mar 27, 2012
Rich kids and cars...
Posted Jan 26, 2012
A colleague at work sends their child to a private school (the sort where the annual fees are just short of my annual wage), and was discussing cars for children. Her son has recently turned 17, and now drives about in an 02-reg Vauxhall Corsa, nice, but not flash.
A mate of his, however, has *very* rich parents. He passed his driving test on his 17th birthday, having taken lessons on private land. For his birthday he was given a top of the range, all extras fitted Range Rover V8! (For those who don’t know, we’re talking £80,000+) Unfortunately for him, regardless of what his parents could afford to pay, there was not an insurance company in the land who would insure a 17 year old to drive one of those. His parents, resourceful as ever, sent the car back to the garage for a slight modification. He is now the proud owner of the world’s only top of the range, fully loaded Range Rover, with a 1.4litre engine out of an undisclosed hatchback!!
In comparison, another of the lads there was bought a 12 year old Renault Clio by his slightly wiser parents. Within a week he had reversed it into the car of the people over the road. His dad paid off the other people, and told his son that as it was his first bump, he would pay, but future bumps would be his own responsibility. As a reminder of this, his dad had the nice red Clio repaired – with a bright green wing panel!
My favourite was another of his mates, who had dropped subtle hints that he too wanted a car for his birthday. On the morning of his 17th he was presented with –
A cactus! His parents told him that if he can prove to them that he can look after that, they might consider buying him a car!
Latest reply: Jan 26, 2012
Posted Dec 5, 2011
Listening to local radio - they've asked members of the public if they think Bridlington should be modernised. One woman commented "I think it should be modernised, there's no modern shops like Debenhams and other traditional modern shops"
Latest reply: Dec 5, 2011