What Does the Term Cinderella Service mean? I was musing about this recently. Here is the Longman English Dictionary On line:
“a person or thing that has been ignored or treated as less important than other people or things – Example: A Cinderella service within the NHS.”
There are many potential Cinderellas in the NHS – each unheralded or put upon service will hear the claim routinely. Mental Health Services, rehabilitation, renal support, learning disabilities have all staked a claim.
I was going to suggest, looking at the definition, that NHS Community Services are “ignored and treated as less important than other people or things” and therefore fit the bill. It is rare for a politician or senior NHS Leader to talk about a community matron, podiatrist, dietician, family support worker, health visitor or school nurse. Most would struggle to tell you what an Occupational Therapist does – like all our staff they are just brilliant.
And show me the policy documents that trumpet the role NHS community services will play in the future system – one tailor-made for them. Michael Scott wrote about this here. I have also written about this here. The policy documents don’t exist and the scale and role of community services is not understood. But…….
Then I thought about the 2 million contacts we conduct every year in Leeds. The difference they make and the satisfaction and support that they give to the people who really matter – the patients and families we support. I wrote previously about the “Little Miracles of Kindness and Compassion” that take place in homes across the City. Helping a child communicate for the first time. Rebuilding a life after a stroke. Keeping your feet and your sight as a diabetic. Preventing a suicide in prison. Helping teen Dads work out how they need to be in frightening new lives – where we value them not treat them as pariahs. Sourcing patients with STDs and getting them help. Or, as a grateful family told me about their Dad recently, a good death with the sun on your face in the garden. And as one older lady described to me at our Colorectal and Urological Services Open Day –
“The doctor referred me to Sister Lodge. She has helped me get my life back. She has given me hope.”
So maybe it is time to rethink the idea of cinderella services. Because if 2 million contacts are part of the Leeds Landscape, then I reckon maybe 100 million contacts take place in NHS community services like ours in England. That dwarfs activity in hospitals. And every contact will be working with people to help them with something they believe is important – their lives. Ignored and unimportant? No.
And then we need to think about Cinderella herself. Wasn’t she the one with all the talent, resourcefulness and ingenuity?
So if being a Cinderella service means being cherished and valued by the people you serve and having the skill and talent to succeed in the toughest of climates, then I am proud to be running a Cinderella Service. One that, with my colleagues across the country, tries to pull off 100 million piece of magic each year.