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Train of Thought...
July 2009 -Tempus Fugit

A recurrent theme in the Branch News submissions over the last couple of months has been the rate at which 2009 is "fleeing". I know I am feeling that I get to work Monday morning and before I know what is happening it is already Friday evening and the to do list has had more things added to it than were deleted. When you consider the weekend goes even more quickly, what hope is there?

The economic downturn doesn't seem to have slowed the passage of time one iota. We all seem to be just as busy, if not busier than ever, running on the treadmill that is life. Worklife balance?

Of late we have been dealing with increasing numbers of requests for urgent tests. In parallel with this rise in urgent requests, the frequency of "Red Alerts", indicating there are no available beds, is rising. The test urgency rarely has anything to do with clinical acuity, but is simply a reflection of the need to shift the patient out of a bed. Policies have been put in place to drive this, but whilst investment is put into the team driving the program, no resources are provided to increase diagnostic throughput so the goals of the program can be met.

While the workers are scampering hither and thither, it is amazing the inertia that exists further up the food chain. I have just lost a potential appointee due to the final signoff on our recommendation to appoint having sat on a desk near the top of the food chain, for an unacceptably long time. All in the interests of saving money. This inertia, I fear is not exclusive to my own organisation but can be found everywhere. Heaven forbid we should find it in our own Society.

One can only hope that the mushrooming that is occurring further up the food chain will become so unstable that it will self destruct. I fear the treadmill is presently out of control. The solutions, however, lie not in tinkering with the paradigm but in developing a new one. Several airlines around the world are currently investigating standing room only passage at the moment, no baggage and no seat. It is but a small step to no bed.

We can't change the world ourselves. We can't say we don't care. Our patients are the innocent victims being squeezed. All we can do is our best. It may well be better to wait 24 hours for a test than to get data from a test done under adverse circumstances. Simply buckling to unreasonable demands sends the message up the chain that we are over resourced.

As I have observed previously, it is very important for the pursuit of quality data that we pay attention to ourselves. It is increasingly important that we schedule time to smell the roses, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to do so.

We can, I guess, take solace from the fact the "fleeing of time" is not a new phenomenon. Virgil is the first to have the expression attributed to him.

Right, I am off to smell the roses! Bugger it, modern roses don't smell!

'til next month,

K

July, 2009

kevin.gain@health.wa.gov.au

 

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