Posted by: ayrshirehealth | October 26, 2012

NHS Ayrshire & Arran – Who Cares! by @bmc875

All in one day!

Though born in North Ayrshire, I lived in the South of England for almost 40 years. Nearly 20 years ago I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), Type 2 Diabetes and an enlarged prostate. All in the one day! At that time, my company provided an all-embracing private medical scheme.

I was a Contracts Manager for an internationally respected company. I knew a thing or two about stress – especially negotiating contracts in Albania – but I digress.

In 2003, I took early retirement and returned to Ayrshire where I registered with my local GP practice and, for the first time in my life, relied solely on the NHS for my health care – No more private for me!

I had volunteered at the Chichester Hospital while I waited to sell and buy a house and I continued volunteering on my return; I currently volunteer as a driver for a global charity, but based in Ayr. I take less able people to their hospital appointments in Ayrshire, Inverclyde and Glasgow and use either my own car or specially adapted, easy access wheelchair friendly, mini buses.

One thing in common – anxiety

A lot of my continuing volunteer training focuses on the passengers; some need minimal help, others have greater needs and sometimes are confined to wheelchairs. They all have one thing in common – Anxiety.

  • Will I get there on time?
  • Is the boat on time?
  • Where is the clinic at the Hospital?
  • Will I have to wait long?
  • Will it hurt?
  • Where is the loos?
  • Will my Husband, Mum, dog etc be Ok at home until I get back?

I am taught to recognise anxiety and to assist in a calm, confident manner. Sometimes this extends to going with the passenger to the required clinic, doing the introductions then taking my temporary leave. Other times its just a friendly chat as we drive. But what of the NHS staff?  They too have Mums, Dogs etc and all the usual pressures associated with today’s hectic lifestyle. Mortgage, kids, social life and so on.

Sometime stressed

So, Hospitals, Clinics etc can be stressful places – for everyone! Just like I recognise my passengers who are sometimes stressed, so I also recognise medical staff that are equally stressed.  See that nurse that just shouted your name? a wee bit harshly perhaps! Maybe she (or he) has just had to deal with an aggressive patient! or his daughter is ill at home (on her own?). What can we, the NHS users, the patients, do to reduce the levels of stress? How can we help the medical staff help us?

First and most important thing is to be ready to accept last minute changes. This can be things like appointments running late, or you need an additional procedure.

For example, a few weeks back, my passenger was half an hour ‘late’ coming back to my car. She was annoyed that she had to go for an x-ray “As well!!” she said!  What really happened was that her Consultant decided she needed an X-Ray to help him plan her on-going care, which she had not expected.

She got concerned that I was waiting outside and she got very anxious. All understandable. She told me all this on the drive back home. What really bothered her were two things.

  • Firstly, in terms of her health, had it just got worse? What were they looking for?  Is this bad news?
  • Secondly, that poor driver expected me 20 minutes ago! Will he still be there? Will I need to get a bus home instead? (She told me this on the way home)

Write a list – then clarify

For myself, prior to a GP appointment, or clinic etc, I write out a list of the medications I am on, how many I take and at what times. If I have any problems with my current medications, I make a note of that. Next, I make a note of how I feel. For example, I recently had a regular consultant’s appointment for my RA. I had been experiencing some ‘different’ pain patterns so I made a note of when and how severe these pains were. (Tip: Do not use medical jargon, ‘felt like an knife was stuck into my back’ is quite descriptive). Engage with the doctor or nurse, she is human too and is on your side – honest!  If necessary, ask for things to be further explained or even written down. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Wee tip, I usually say, in response to something said by a Doctor, “Does that mean that …” Or ” I’m sorry I don’t understand” in doing this I am trying to clarify what is being said to me. (Look up ‘Active Listening’). Believe me – this works!

I care

In closing, let me say this. As a 67 year old male, I use NHS Ayrshire & Arran extensively. I have yet to be disappointed.  I care!

@bmc875 left Ardrossan (Ayrshire) in Jan 1961 and joined RAF, leaving in 1985.  He’s married, since 1969, with two grown up kids.  He’s also an Open University Graduate (Systems Engineering).  He worked in industry in West Sussex Hampshire till 2003 (Singer-Link, IBM Federal Systems and Lockheed Martin). It was said about him … he was “the most aggressive, determined and successful contract negotiator, I have ever come across”.

Brian volunteered with:

St Richard’s Hospital Chichester (Eye clinic) – 4Sight West Sussex Association for the blind (Shop and talking books repairs) – Headway Ayr (Computer tutor) – NAC – Library (Computer tutor)Largs, Fairlie and West Kilbride – Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland (Stroke communications groups)

November introduces a month of blogs from Allied Health Professionals, next week @billyahpd  starts of looking at leadership


  1. […] NHS Ayrshire & Arran – Who Cares! by Brian McCullock […]

  2. […] NHS Ayrshire & Arran – Who Cares! by Brian McCullock Brian looks at how in his role as a volunteer driver for the NHS, he is able to […]

  3. enlarge prostate can be also reduced by using anti-androgens.`

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  4. […] those who remember the last article I wrote for this blog, I am a retired Contracts Manager for large, mostly American, companies. In that blog, I discussed […]



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