Sunday, April 1, 2012

Capetown....lessons of equality....

Cape town...a city of magic...such a pleasure watching the clouds roll over Table top mountain, but more amazingly, to be in a place where the hurts of the past seem to have given way to joy and happiness, a country where one was segregated on the basis of the colour of your skin...to...this..buzzing, vibrant place.
And to here I came..attending a meeting of experts, a meeting where I sat revisiting the treatment of atrial fibrillation, learning why targeting glucose control without a thought for the patient may not be the brightest idea ever...and after a long time? I took notes! I learnt, I enjoyed...being a student again. Away from the local politics, away from the incessant battle with other specialists who do not respect what you do in your profession, away from the bravura performance of being the one who is always in control...This was bliss. it may just be over the weekend...but at least I could let the guard down...just for a little bit.
One takes a deep breath sometimes, the continuous battles...hey...even Batman needs a break,eh?

But then....meetings are a funny beast...you bump into people, you meet new people, you meet folks who appreciate what you do, they aren't the naysayers, they don't exude
negativity....no....they say "well done", they say " we are with you, mate" and you stand up one more time..the battle goes on. Paddy English, Stephen Lawrence, Saravanan...guys who
belong to the new generation, folks who want to make the change..and in the midst of it all?
Some from the old guard, but as much a part of the awareness of making things better, the legendary "firebrands" such as Jiten who do not want to stop you, but see reflection of their younger selves, but advice a degree of temperance, but have that knowing smile, when you say "I can take on anyone".

Politics kills us all, doesn't it? The burning desire to hold on to old ground, the burning desire to protect ones own turf...and we seem to have forgotten why we went to do this job in the first place..to help the person who has come to us asking to be made...better. How much have we moved away from what is our core that we are now entrenched to organisations? Let me say this boldly and clearly...Organisations do NOT change things...individuals do. And you know what? That's what the powers that be are saying too.
I met Bruce Keogh, I met Malcolm Grant...all here in Cape town..talking of the future of the NHS,..wise men who are willing to listen, willing to change, passionate about making the change..understanding the need for specialists go come close to primary care, and organisations who don't get that will be left behind, left in their own little mire...still thinking of what has to be done, what could be one.

Diabetes care has had too many divisions, too many organisations...why do we need a specialist organisation, a primary care organisation, a patient organisation when we all believe in helping patients? Get together fellas, sort your differences apart...or only 1 group falls through the cracks....or while you contemplate how to do it, watch Generation Now show you the way. The powers that be are ready to listen...come out of your trenches or be left behind.
Cape town, South Africa..a country which used to treat some of it's own like second class citizens...now everyone's equal. Can we in the English healthcare system develop the concept of mutual respect? Not the phoney chat, not the "let's get together to show we are together"...no..genuine belief that we are equal as professionals trying to do the right thing. Away from the UK, when you meet folks who want to do exactly that, you know it's do-able. You know what? Rest time is over....battle armour back on...and my fellow Gastroenterologist? No, my job is not to look after patients you "don't want", my duty is to those patients who will benefit from my expertise. And can I take you on for that?
Hell Yes. Lock and load....

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