“I stand by my opinion that NHS staff would do well to experience the ‘other side’ as a patient to improve compassion #medradjclub“
That was me, taking part in a tweetchat with other like-minded radiographers on Twitter in May this year. What was I banging on about? Well, we were sharing ideas about compassionate care, and discussing how to improve matters in the small world of radiography, a world that many people experience when they have any form of scan or x-ray in the NHS.
Radiography is an art and science, and not many people think ‘compassion’ when they think about imaging the body, and research, or lack thereof, backs that up (Bleiker, Knapp, Hopkins, & Johnston, 2016)
Imaging is too quick though, right? Especially in mammography, famed for its ‘six minute only’ rule. How do you show compassion and do the job in that time? Well, lucky for us, someone came up with something very quick, simple & free that is changing the NHS, not just in x-ray, neither.
The simple introduction. Yes, after all the research, all the reports and statements, guarantees from the NHS constitution (Department of Health, 2015), it boils down to your name.
Dr Kate Granger, died earlier this year from her terminal cancer, but she left behind a campaign for compassionate, personalised care that has caught fire: over 400,000 health workers support it (NHS Employers, 2016) as do NHS England, and deservedly so. So, what’s all this about?
Dr Granger was appalled at the sheer number of staff within the NHS who didn’t introduce themselves to her while providing care for her cancer. She felt strongly that this was such a basic first step to take when communicating with another human being, that she started a campaign, first on Twitter, then by touring to tell her story and spread the word, as well as other awareness events. As the illness took hold, the campaign went back online until her untimely death at the age of 34 earlier this year.
The ‘common’ introduction, she felt, was much more than ‘common’ courtesy – it was the start of a connection, and in the health services, the start of reaching out from one human being to another human being who is vulnerable and possibly in pain.
Hold on here, you say, surely all radiographers and health workers introduce themselves? This can’t be right, surely? Well, I’m here to say no – no, they don’t. The Society and College of Radiographers did a survey of radiographers, and only 53% always introduced themselves by name. 7% never did, proving that Dr Grainger’s experience was not an isolated event (Society and College of Radiographers, 2016a).
I am privileged to work in an organisation that she visited, and her presentation was powerful, as was her overall personality, but her description of sitting devastated as someone broke the news that her cancer had spread; without eye contact, without revealing who he was, without checking if she needed even a tissue, was overwhelming. The case she makes for revealing just that little bit of yourself to make a connection is very strong.
Her campaign resonated with me; I came into the profession as the NHS was stripped of its immunity to prosecution and we were accountable for what we did. Shock horror. I seem to recall that we associated the question ‘what’s your name?’ with the follow up statement ‘bring me the manager’ and fearing the axe was about to fall – we were about to ‘get done’ or ‘get into trouble’ and our name made it all possible! So I didn’t tell patients my name. Not because, I hasten to add, my radiographer moniker/gamertag was ‘Maverick’ or ‘EvilRad’, and my practice was littered with mistakes, but because I shamefully followed the herd. That changed as a direct result of #hellomynameis.
Similarly, nowadays, people associate anonymity online with privacy, and trolling has become a phenomenon: if you can’t be seen saying it then you don’t have to own it, right?
I think that to a certain extent, this is how it can work in any large organisation, with small cogs of staff hiding in the anonymity of a large machine, but that’s not how health care is, guys. It needs to be all brought back down to the level of the individual; the machine matters less.
The large machine that is the NHS breast screening programme has plenty of small cogs: radiographers and assistant practitioners who toil daily to get that ‘perfect’ image that will bring the satisfaction of finding that sneaky, hidden cancer. In a move that will not shock the thousands of women who have had a mammogram, the Society of Radiographers recently classed the mammogram as an ‘intimate examination’ (Society and College of Radiographers, 2016b) and I can think of another perfect image, which defines ‘vulnerable’ and that is standing with your breasts exposed, about to have them handled and squashed by a complete stranger. An introduction might make that a little easier to bear.
There’s other benefits, too. Back to the survey: only 38% of radiographers told patients their profession. Now there’s been a lot of mee-mawing (hint: northern colloquialism) about how radiographers are the ‘hidden’ profession in the NHS, with most patients identifying us as nurses. I suggest the best way of raising awareness of the profession is by telling every patient which profession is currently examining them. What a great opportunity to let everyone know about how necessary and fabulous our profession is – grab it with both hands, say I.
Dr Kate Granger taught us so much about making people feel like people; I think that the mammography profession should embrace this campaign and make sure it continues. Let’s ensure the sea change becomes a tidal wave.
Feel the fear and do it anyway. Go on, tell them who you are. #hellomynameis
Blog author: Bev Scragg, Advanced Practice Mammographer, Breast Screening Unit, East Lancs Hospital NHS Trust.
Call to action
The WoMMeN hub is holding a forum chat on Wednesday the 7th of September at 8pm (UK time). The topic concerns the relevance of the “Hello My Name is..” campaign in the mammography examination. We’d love to hear your views and experiences.
Bleiker, J., Knapp, K. M., Hopkins, S., & Johnston, G. (2016). Compassionate care in radiography recruitment, education and training: A post-Francis Report review of the current literature and patient perspectives. Radiography, 22(3), 257–262. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.radi.2015.12.008
Department of Health. (2015). The NHS Constitution for England. London: Department of Health. Retrieved from https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-nhs-constitution-for-england
NHS Employers. (2016). #hellomynameis. Retrieved August 27, 2016, from http://www.nhsemployers.org/campaigns/hello-my-name-is
Society and College of Radiographers. (2016a). #hellomynameis campaign. Retrieved August 28, 2016, from https://www.sor.org/about-radiography/patient-information/hello-my-name-is-campaign
Society and College of Radiographers. (2016b). Intimate Examinations and Chaperone Policy. London: Society & College of Radiographers. Retrieved from https://www.sor.org/learning/document-library/intimate-examinations-and-chaperone-policy-0