Driving can be tiring, can't it? As much as I try to be environment friendly, the hassle involved does force one to inevitably turn towards the car..at least one could cut down on the rail delay, check in for airports etc etc. However, deep into my marathon 2 day journey involving Portsmouth, Nottingham, Leicester and Guildford...somehow it didn't feel all that cosy anymore. There was still a last leg travel left, back to the comfort of ones own house,own bed...and many a time on the M25 the fleeting thought passed, considering to take the turn back to Southampton..back to returning at a time when I would be greeted with unbridled delight from my little ones and be revelled with stories of how Optimus Prime would easily beat Ben 10 or indeed the conquests of the school netball team, ably led by their captain.
But no, I decided to soldier on..as ever, a mental note about taking the little uns to see Madagascar 3, an added bonus for them with that extra scoop of ice cream....but Guildford it was at that point. Second year of the Quality in Care awards backed by all the big organisations in Diabetes care, supported by Sanofi..the year before, we had come second in a couple of categories..I still remembered being texted by one of my colleagues about it last year..to which my response had been typically "Partha"...." good, but that means we have room to improve, right?". Still recall my senior colleague smiling back when we met after that asking what exactly I have for breakfast or lunch or dinner!
So could we improve on the year before? As it transpired, we did indeed. A few more awards and it was great to see the team go and pick up the award, beaming, happy, delighted to be recognised...the NHS doesn't say "thank you" enough. More encouragingly, our Commissioners also won an award...maybe it wasn't just hype, maybe the model,we all worked together on, did have legs, maybe it was working...maybe external folks actually believed it wasn't just the razzle and dazzle of Partha..maybe it would eventually provide good healthcare.
And then the other attendees and winners. A pleasure to meet Zoe...someone who has been part of my education on social media, helped me understand what we without diabetes will never quite but perhaps pretend to. It's certainly opened the way for me to try and organise a psychological support service for our local Type 1 patients....simply put, we learn everyday, don't we? There were others, some new faces, a lot of old faces...but perhaps what stood out for me was the team from Derby. A solid team who clearly revelled in each others company, the architects of a fascinating model of care in Derby...and finally much deserved recognition. More strength to their arms indeed! We have been up "against" each other in different award events recently...and someone commented "always you two, eh?" I don't know but perhaps it shows the strength of what we have all achieved locally? If all grand slam finals are competed between Federer and Nadal, it's hardly their fault I suppose. in the tennis world, their presence brought forth a Djokovic and a Murray...if the same analogy is reflected in the diabetes world, it can only be good for patient care...just like one style of play doesn't win you everything everywhere, neither does one model of care work everywhere...local clinicians hopefully will be galvanised to create their own..and that is where the potential of the QIC awards is. Everyone likes recognition and perhaps seeing other centres doing well will act as an inspiring force to do something themselves or even learn from each other. Who knows..we do live in hope, don't we?
And then it all came to a close. A slick event handled by Louise, coordinated ably...it gave the opportunity for the winners and others to mingle, socialise, chat about present politics in diabetes care...Sanofi was out there in force. Altruistic or with a business frame of mind? I will let you all decide that one. The people I know personally,the Becky Reeves, the Caroline Horwoods....I would hate to think its simply the latter, I would like to believe that the system isn't that corrupted that we are being sucked into this world of outright cynicism...but then again, Ben Goldacres book does make uncomfortable reading, doesn't it?
And then as with anything, there were the stuff that made it just a bit sour..A "respected" person sidled up and opined there was a reason why some centres won awards with a hint of disdain...and left that comment hanging. I wouldn't want to know why..I would like to believe it's due to the quality.
Another gave their view on our model, our service, my style.." was I too big for my boots?", "did I ACTUALLY get along with my GP colleagues?"...and I smiled...Jealousy has to be earned, hasn't it? When the old guard get worried about a 38 year old from Portsmouth..you know that something's spooked them...maybe their safe position as national gurus while their own local services melt away are threatened, maybe they don't like non conformists...who knows...and frankly? who actually cares? As I always say, if the old guard find it difficult to deal with the inevitable changes and the energy of youth, step aside. We are ready to drive the change..get along for the ride or simply put, stand down.I am doing this to improve patient care, not to massage egos, right?
So it ended..and I did that final trip back home..with some mixed feelings..happy at the team recognition, happy at the purpose of the awards, still keeping the faith in Big Pharmas pledge to have changed and sad about the state of diabetes, the internecine corrosive politics which is in danger of putting our specialty into a self destructive spiral. But thankfully the evening also showed a growing collective of folks who want to make a difference, patients such as Laura, Zoe, centres such as Derby, Portsmouth....and together, we will.
It was with great delight when I walked in late at night to see my daughter still awake...she knew I had gone for an awards night...excitedly asking me.."Did YOU win? Did you?"
It's at that moment, with a lot of pride, I said.."Yes, my princess, WE won. We indeed did".