Call for shared expertise

The NHS and the private sector have a lot to learn from each other. That’s the inside view of Mahri Edgar, Manager at Glenburnie Care Home in Leven, who has spent time working on both sides of the fence.

Her career has taken her from a part-time post in a community hospital to working with a service that looked after acutely ill patients in their own homes, acting as the NHS Fife–Alzheimer Scotland link worker, and being a senior nurse at Cameron Hospital in Fife. She joined the private sector in early 2017 when she took up her current role.

“One big difference between the two set ups is staff education,” she said. “It’s much easier to develop your workforce in the NHS than in the private sector because training is very expensive.

“Conversely, in the private sector things move much more quickly. If I want to make a change here in Glenburnie I don’t have to put it to several different groups before it happens.”

Mahri believes the role of care staff is underestimated. “Our staff undertake medication, tube feeds, blood pressure measurement and so on. In the NHS auxiliaries don’t have that level of responsibility. If they did it would free up band 5 and 6 nurses to work on complex case management.”

Similarly, she’s struck by the greater participation of relatives in the private sector. “With the NHS I think there’s a perception that when someone goes into hospital then that institution takes over every element of care.

“At the same time, our sector can learn a lot from the NHS in terms of absence management and recruitment policies.

“And the NHS has numerous network groups for subjects such as ‘falls’ and ‘medication’. It would be good to have local networks where managers and others can discuss shared topics of interest.

“There’s a lot of great expertise out there. Hopefully, moves like health and social care integration will help us share that knowledge to enhance the care we all offer.”