Tag Archives: bloggy buddies

moving beyond the silos

Northern Ireland is a teeny place. The region has a population of 1.8 million, many of whom know each other/ each other’s relations. In comparison, London has over 8 million people, Los Angeles has 3.8 million, the Greater Manchester conurbation has 2.7 million, Montreal has 1.6 million. For historical, political, and “that’s how we’ve always done it” reasons, we have complex systems for delivering our public services.

The regular reader will know of my developing interest in how healthcare is designed and delivered. I’m active in rare disease charities and patient ‘involvement’ groups. I speak about my own experience, and how the patient voice brings a different, necessary view on services. I’ve found twitter to be a remarkable source of information and connection. It was there I became aware of #ehealthNI14, an inaugural conference launching consultation on the NI eHealth and Care strategy. I asked if I could go. Yes, said the organisers, apparently pleasantly surprised that patients might be interested.

I wasn’t able to attend the whole event, but what I did get to was very interesting. There was a real enthusiasm to move our systems forward, and to recognise the voice of patients. Next time, I’m hoping that patients will be encouraged to attend, that the event will be obviously open to patients from the outset. Wouldn’t it be great if patients were co designing and co producing the conference? And all healthcare conferences? The door opened a little this week, and there seems to be a willingness to keep it opening. I am not the only one who will keep on pushing.

with @Noirin0Neill, @JBBC &@DrStevenKinnear
with @Noirin0Neill, @JBBC & @DrStevenKinnear

The formal talk that I found most challenging and inspirational was that from Nigel Millar, Chief Medical Officer of Canterbury, New Zealand. He explained how, seven years ago, financial and demographic change meant the need to re-examine the healthcare system for their area (about 0.5 million people). They agreed new priorities, new ways of working together and new systems. Get this, the system is designed not to waste patients’ time- and that’s how things are measured. “We saved 1.5 million days of patients waiting for appointments”. Healthcare communities (including 60% of GPs) developed agreed pathways for conditions and then allied health information for patients. Urgent care can be provided by teams in the community, people are being kept out of hospital. There is one budget, so the priority is to problem solve, rather than pass over the issue for another budget to pay for. The push for rapid development came after the 2010 earthquake. I understand that he is cheerleading for his own system, but it was wonderful to hear about a system that was designed around what matters to the patient. Because that allows the system to deliver safer, more effective, more efficient care, and a better experience. It’s more expensive to keep on getting things wrong than it is to design them with the right priorities in the first place.

this is not gospel!
do not take this as fact- my impressions only!

The Northern Ireland system is complex, but less so than it used to be. Conference speakers talked about how they still operate in silos, but that the developing technology is beginning to break those down. Historically the system keeps specialisms separate and information held by geographically based Trusts apart. “Moving a few miles down the road and expecting to have your information come with you? What nonsense!”- those days are, at least going, if not yet totally gone.

I look forward to the next time. I’m sure I won’t have to wait a year to get back in a room with some of the patient experts and healthcare leaders I spent time with this week. Particular thanks to @soo_cchsc and @HmmMoorhead for making it happen for me.


on saving my sanity while shoe shopping

It’s an annual trauma. Back to school shoe shopping.

I’m super at internet shopping, or browsing in fancy shops, but I freak out in supermarkets. Too much noise, too many people, specific requirements and too much choice. Exhausting stuff. School shoe shopping has all of that, with the addition of style conscious girls. With strong opinions.

I hardly remember my own school shoes. My feet stopped growing when I was about 13, so it’s entirely possible I had the same pair of shoes for the next 3 or 4 years. Black. Regulation. Styled like a pair of boats. I didn’t mind. I had no interest in or opinion on my appearance. My enormous glasses, frizzy hair- attended to with an ‘afro’ comb- and general lack of concern drove my poor mother mad. Eventually I developed enough interest in clothes to gather a red ra-ra skirt  and white court shoes, but I’m not sure Herself regarded that as much of an improvement. She’d be delighted with her granddaughters caring what they look like.

We had to buy football boots, trainers and black shoes. It was maybe ambitious to try to do all at once, but Spurs Fan is a dedicated shopper and determined to get a bargain or five, so we went to the local outlet centre.

I was defeated straight away by the wall of brightly coloured football boots (what happened?) and moved to the many, many boxes of trainers. It took about 10 minutes to work out that they were labelled with US rather than UK sizes. The reading glasses had to come out. I was fit for the hills before anyone had even tied a lace. All the sizes, all the colours. Twice.

I went for a reviving coffee and wander about. I tried on some unflattering clothes and decided to return to WeightWatchers. I wasn’t just overwhelmed, bored and tired. I was fat too. I wasn’t having a great day.

A preliminary potter round the sensible shoe shop filled my heart with dread. There were loads of sensible flat black shoes to be worn by sensible little old ladies. I wouldn’t wear most of those shoes, never mind expecting the girls to. Being patient souls, they tried, but their faces got longer.

In the midst of it all, I cheered up enormously. It’s not just us. School shoe shopping plagues all the houses. Children the world over make their opinions known. We’d have another go.

The magic moment came courtesy of Tinman. His post about a teenage daughter and school shoes popped into my head just when I needed to smile. He tells tales that make me laugh, and pluck at my heart. This one saved my sanity that day.

there's more!
there’s more!

We still have to buy a pair of school shoes.

discovering writing, pictures and other bloggy goodness

Jake and I are back to normal. It’s almost a school day. It’s wet outside. The others are away exploring Spurs Fan’s new classroom, wondering where he’s going to put all the boxes, and the children.

I’ve been a while playing on the laptop, with that smelly, snorey bundle at my feet. It’s how we spend many of our days.

My mind is still in holiday mode. It’s not ready to read worthy articles about rare disease, charities, event organising or patient engagement. It’s certainly not ready to actually do any of those things.

But I did have a task for today, and I’ve done it. Get me.

I have had a good old nosey round the blogs on the longlist for the personal blog category in the 2014 Blog Awards Ireland.



There are 30 odd categories in the awards- I’ll never read all the nominated blogs and I’d have no opinion on the content of Irish language blogs, the tech blogs, business or political blogs. I’ve been a judge in the past and found it challenging to judge the politics ones- just how much were my personal political opinions influencing my opinions on whether a blog was engaging?

The personal category is a bit of a catch all, but this year the organisers have stated that blogs which are mostly craft/ photography and the like should be judged in those categories; a bug bear of mine in previous years had been that the personal category was won by beautiful food or knitting blogs.

There are many beautiful personal blogs- and not just from the creative young people- and for the first time I’ve chosen to follow a number of the bloggers on Pinterest rather than follow the blog directly. I’ve got another half dozen coming to my reader, and one or two by email. So many ways to keep updated with interesting writing.

Naturally, some of the blogs don’t appeal to me, but many do. if you’re looking for some new reading material, check out all the nominations- you never know what new bloggy buddies you may meet.

Dr Dawnriser

Our bloggy buddy, acclaimed poet and former teacher has done something rather remarkable. Years of field work, analysing, learning hard sums, applying theory, writing, thinking and arguing. Yesterday morning, she defended her thesis. In a few weeks, she’ll parade across a stage in red robes while her nearest and dearest try not to whoop and holler with delight.

Dawnriser and I go back to our school days. She’s been a researcher in London and Dublin, part of the Human Genome Project.  She taught for years. She wrote poetry and dealt with enormous personal challenges. She returned to university in her forties to study the science she loves. Fate has determined that I can now see her house from mine, about a minute’s walk. She is a perfectionist, a worrier and an all round star. She’s about to start making waves in science.

A virtual round of applause please for Dr Dawnriser, my mate.