Saying goodbye to Queens Park…..reflections of the Consultant Nurse Manager
At 21:00hrs on Thursday 30th March 2017 we place the automatic door to ‘closed’ and pull the bolt across to secure the entrance at Queens Park Health Centre, for the final time, ending a chapter in history, and closing the MSH@Queens Park clinic for a final time. After eight and half years, we have had to pack away our swabs, archive our clinical files and clear our storage cupboards as we depart from the premises. Being a small, independent non-profit healthcare provider, we were not large enough to have competed in the recent tri-borough Public Health tender process for the community reproductive and sexual health services, and whilst we wish all the best to the successful providers, out of hours sexual health service provision from Queens Park was not actually a requirement of the new service provision, hence the service is no longer.
Reflecting on these past years, we need to consider, did we actually make a difference? MHS Health & Wellbeing Community Interest Company provides all its clinical services using the 6Cs framework:
CARE – In the eight and half years that the clinic has been running, since September 2009, we have registered just under 8,000 patients. Granted, many of these individuals were one of episodes of care, perhaps attending only because they had a concern and required a sexual health screen, or needed emergency contraception, or had symptoms that required urgent investigation, diagnosis and treatment. For these patients, our service was essential at that moment in time along the trajectory of their personal histories, but for most, will now be no more than a distant memory. However, for a significant number of individuals, who attended the service on two or more occasions, the clinic offered a service in which they had confidence that their sexual and reproductive healthcare needs would be met.
COMPETENCE – We had a wonderful team. Some of us had been there since day one, such as Helen and Vera, whilst many have come and gone over the years, including some wonderful junior medics such as Chris, James, Rakesh, and Ellen, and some more experienced medical officers such as Dr Afroze and Dr Ghafor. We have had wonderful nurses, especially Beverley, Nadine, Abramo, Attila, Marian, Emma, Jen, Jane, Andrew, Matthew, Wilbert, Venise, and our amazing Jorge. And most importantly our wonderful support staff, who set up and pack down the rooms, check samples, take bloods, and supplied the staff and patients alike with teas and refreshments and always a friendly smile, including Cat, Hester, Lee, Allison and with special mention to the fabulous Marcelo. Finally, always with a welcome smile at front of house, the charming Vera on reception.
COMPASSION – Our way of working was simple, treat our patients as we would wish to be treated. Thankfully it was rare that we had to give unwanted news, but for the small number of patients for whom the clinic diagnosed their HIV status, or confirmed the painful genital blisters was in fact herpes, or the reason their period was late was because they were pregnant, at a time in their lives when having a baby just wasn’t an option, we gave time, a hand to hold, a shoulder to cry on and words of reassurance that enabled them to take stock, weigh options and make informed decisions.
COMMUNICATION – There were times, especially on Saturdays, when the wait in the clinic for walk-in patients could get to four hours, waits most often associated with busy A&E departments. Yet we rarely had patients become aggressive or angry about the wait. Vera on reception would keep them informed, allow them to register and then suggest they go for a coffee, reassured that when it came near time for them to be called through, she’d give them a call and advise them to return. All the team would ensure that a consultation was meaningful, that the patient could ask questions and gain insight, and that no matter how busy we were, they never felt rushed.
COURAGE – Our original former Westminster Primary Care Trust Commissioners, namely Gary and Davey showed courage in commissioning a brand new concept. A nurse led, community based, out of hours, part-time sexual health service, dropped into the middle of a thriving central London NHS health centre and GP practices, despite initial resistance from some the other services/staff within the centre. However, within a very short space of time, those initial ‘resisters’ became some of our greatest advocates, encourage patients and local residents to utilise the service.
COMMITMENT – I think the track record of the last eight and half years demonstrates our commitment to service. Not one missed clinic, open holiday weeks, Christmas and New Year Eve’s, times when larger statutory services would not be available. Not one serious untoward incident or formal complaint. Even our recent Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection commented on their initial end of inspection feedback that we had ‘broken all records’ for the greatest number of positive feedback cards from patients even recorded on a site inspection. But to end, we say thank you to all those patients, in all those years, who used the service, who trusted our team, who confided their most personal and intimate of details to enable use to give them the appropriate advice, guidance and/or treatment. MSH@Queens Park was for a time a vital community asset in a little corner of the central north west London, but nothing lasts for ever, all things come to an end, and so we say goodbye, and thank you to all our patients, you are the ones who really made the difference.
Thank you to all the patients who attended during the years!
020 8960 7746
Queen's Park Health Centre Dart Street, London W10 4LD Limited Company No.8456546 Trading arm of MSH Health & Wellbeing CIC (Company No. 8532529) CQC Registration Provider ID 1-973333066