We can argue all we like about how it was paid for, but the New Royal London is an absolutely World Class hospital and epitomises what Labour values of fairness and equality of opportunity in terms of access to services, does for the UK.
True, the hospital is locked in to the most appallingly negotiated PFI contract you can imagine. This from the BMA in January 2010, ““The new Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel scheme is costing £1 billion and the 35 years of index-linked payments will start at £96m in 2013”.
This is proof positive that PFI is the wrong way to go about things, but the point is that Blair and Brown were so desperate to rescue the NHS from the intensive care ward that the Tories had deliberately put it in, that they felt that the end justified the means. As I was being transported around the hospital I couldn’t help but think that the Tories would never even have thought of, or wanted to build such a wonderful facility that is open to all.
I have to spend one week in six undergoing plasma exchange and it is truly amazing to see the effect that the new hospital has produced for staff and patients alike, compared to the old, cramped building.
Morale is tangibly better and crucially the senior nursing staff are far more visible and take genuine pride in the environment that they work in.
There is no doubt that 99.9% of healthcare professionals go in to this line of work out of a genuine sense of altruism, but when you witness some of the behaviour on show (AAU at Hull Royal, and the barbaric way in which my Dad died in the same hospital) you have to wonder what goes wrong, and why such cynicism is becoming more and more noticeable in the NHS.
Ward 12E is staffed by hard working, and above all caring staff. Neuro wards can be populated by patients exhibiting challenging behaviour through no fault of their own. A guy soiled himself deliberately and the result was that a fellow occupant of our room vomited in his bed. The staff dealt with each man in a dignified and non-judgemental way, soothing the situation leaving no one feeling humiliated or blamed.
I suffered heavy bleeding which continued for a number of hours yet the staff couldn’t have been more patient and just got on with regular cleaning up of myself and the bedding in good humour and with no sense that it was a chore.
On Friday our ward was treated to a live cello recital as part of an initiative to encourage music as therapeutic tool no matter what ails, a fantastic idea.
The facilities at the new dialysis centre are incredible, and no more than those very special nurses deserve to have access to. The fly in the ointment is that there is only one plasma exchange machine where two are patently needed, and the cuts that will result from the £20 billion that Tories have slashed from the NHS budget allied to the PFI repayments mean that the hospital faces an uncertain future.