Red wine, yoga and cigars…

…I celebrated three years in the NHS last week; I say celebrated but it was a mix of emotions really, it was a small amount of celebration tempered by no small degree of sadness. Feeling sad felt strange, I felt sad that I felt sad if that makes sense…when I confuse myself like this I take comfort in knowing that if the human brain were simple enough to be understood then I would be too simple to understand it? Anyway, as I reached my third anniversary with the NHS I found myself wondering if there was a facility on LinkedIn for changing the wording of work anniversaries so that a status update could read something like, “Your contact (insert name) has successfully endured (perhaps even survived?) three years in their current role, please click this link to send them a message of sympathy and condolence and let them know you are thinking of them during this time”.

Don’t get me wrong, many of the people I work with are great, there is no shortage of experience and a good amount of collective knowledge about what needs to be done…in some respects the shared sense of madness is a unifying force; the superordinate goal (hows that for management speak?) that keeps us all connected. And of course thriving remains in my sights, life is too short and precious to settle for anything less. But for the moment thriving and celebrating in the knowledge that someone is getting the best of me and I the best of them are not the current reality.

Not long after joining the NHS I wrote a blogpost saying that I thought working for the NHS should be one of the best jobs in the world, and I still think this should be the case…where else do people get the chance to do so much good for their fellow men and women in the course of their working day? But the unfortunate reality is that many people in the NHS are robbed of the intrinsic satisfaction that could be theirs because the NHS like much of the Public Sector has lost touch with the people it is there to serve and has become a target driven machine mired down in politics, of both the petty local and the wider parliamentary type. It is a real tragedy.

The other day I was reflecting with someone who has been in the NHS for nearly 30yrs and asked how they’d survived so long…they said with a smile that it was getting easier because they were still talking about the same things in meetings now that they had been talking about when they joined the NHS.

When I joined the NHS in January 2012 my boss told me that things would never be dull, she was right. Massively understated but right nonetheless. She said the secret to survival was red wine and yoga. There are no easy answers and I’ve never got to grips with the yoga, but a good red wine and the occasional cigar seem like essentials for sanity in the NHS. Cheers!


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