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Jane Bates: It's good to talk

Time is a rare commodity in the NHS, but patients still love to chat, says Jane Bates.
conversation

Time is a rare commodity in the NHS, but patients still love to talk, says Jane Bates

Can we get a move on, sister? the patient said anxiously. She had come for a pre-operative assessment, a lengthy process involving several stages. I have to catch the bus back to Little Widdling-on-the-Marsh at three oclock and theres only one a week. If I miss it, Im done for.

No pressure then. She reminded me about the bus every 5 minutes, looking pointedly at her watch each time, but when we sat down to discuss her medical history, I could not keep her focused.

She talked about her family, her garden, her holidays, as though we had all the time in the world. Little Widdling three oclock, I said feebly.

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Time is a rare commodity in the NHS, but patients still love to talk, says Jane Bates


Patients often relax and want to communicate when behind closed doors, Jane Bates says.

‘Can we get a move on, sister?’ the patient said anxiously. She had come for a pre-operative assessment, a lengthy process involving several stages. ‘I have to catch the bus back to Little Widdling-on-the-Marsh at three o’clock and there’s only one a week. If I miss it, I’m done for.’

No pressure then. She reminded me about the bus every 5 minutes, looking pointedly at her watch each time, but when we sat down to discuss her medical history, I could not keep her focused.  

She talked about her family, her garden, her holidays, as though we had all the time in the world. ‘Little Widdling – three o’clock,’ I said feebly. But the chit-chat was unstoppable.

It’s always the same when you are with a patient behind closed doors. They relax and start to unburden themselves, and all other considerations go out the window. 

But I am just as bad. A patient who was involved in a hot news topic dropped this into the conversation at the outset, and I readily took the bait. Tell me more, I said, I’m all ears. Just as well he didn’t have to catch the three o’clock bus to Little Widdling.  

When it comes to efficiency, the ideal patient for assessment would be a lone Trappist monk in tip-top health. But life wouldn’t be half as interesting, and with time being a rare commodity in the NHS these days, you can’t really blame patients for going for it when they can.  


About the author

Jane BatesJane Bates is an ophthalmic nurse in Hampshire 

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