Ihave been looking at figures and statistics we routinely analyse to help us understand the health Doncaster and once more it has reminded me that behind every figure on a spread-sheet is a patient story.
In fact, many patients with many stories, for whom their healthcare experience will have had a profound effect on them.
It is important clinicians like me recognise and appreciate the impact potential ill health, and actual ill health, has on a patient as well as their family and friends.
When you think you maybe ill, how many people do you tell? Illness, and the conversations associated with illness, often define a person.
On a recent tour of Doncaster Royal Infirmary’s stroke unit, I visited the CT scanner room, where thousands of Doncaster people have had scans.
It made me think of the emotions patients must suffer when referred for a scan and how I would feel in a similar situation.
My last visit had been to accompany a colleague when his scan revealed a brain tumour, while, more recently, the father-in-law of a friend at the clinical commissioning group had the extent of his brain haemorrhage confirmed by the same scanner.
Both experiences had massive personal impacts on the two people themselves, not to mention their friends and family members.
When a GP thinks a patient may have cancer, they are fast-tracked to see a consultant within two weeks.
The NHS has got better at speeding up diagnoses, but two weeks is still an agonising amount of time for anyone to wait if cancer is suspected.
It is important managers and clinicians recognise this and help patients ‘navigate’ their way through the healthcare system as quickly as possible to minimise any psychological trauma.
As a CCG, we are looking at developing ‘one-stop’ clinics where patients can access a range of diagnostic facilities under one roof, in different places in the Doncaster area.
These enable faster diagnoses and have already been introduced for heart failure.
In Doncaster we have a very good TIA (mini-stroke) service. It is far faster than the national average.
We have a TELEDerm service in GP surgeries to take a digital photo of certain skin conditions to see if they need urgent treatment.
We try to minimise the worrying wait for patients before being able to confirm whether they have anything wrong with them.
People often think doctors become hardened to what we see. To some extent we have to, but we still recognise the worries and fears our patients have.
In fact, it keeps us grounded and makes us want to do all we can to make their healthcare journey as smooth and stress-free as possible.
* Dr Nick Tupper, chairman, Doncaster NHS Clinical Commissioning Group