Time travel… the ability to travel across time.
If only! A chance to talk to Nelson? Have a look at Mars. A friendly chat with Florence Nightingale.
Not possible? Actually I’ve done it… last week. I travelled back through the 60’s, East Berlin, the Cold War.
How did I do it? I started at London’s King’s Cross. No, not Platform 9 3/4 that’s Harry Potter.
My journey started on Platform 2 and was transported back to the black and white days of life in the ’60s, on a train, surely the product of the Deutsche Reichsbahn, made from scaffold poles.
Seats; shaped from sheet-metal, covered in a retro-geometric-pattern, carpet-like fabric, designed to make a dentist’s chair look inviting… devoid of springs, foam or cushioning. Made with the intention of keeping osteopaths in gainful employment.
A train, designed and built, long before industrial vacuum cleaners we invented, to keep it clean.
No blinds on the filthy windows. Nothing to keep out the blinding, low slung, early winter sun. A heater no warmer than a peppermint. Incessant, fluorescent lights, a facility much copied by the designers of Guantanamo Bay.
The clattering rail-track, jolting carriages, bumping and bouncing along.
I looked out at the early morning mist, swirling across the grey, flat fields. Any moment I expected Checkpoint Bravo… be ready to reach into my wallet for the 25DM crossing fee and special Passierscheinregelung… Christmas pass.
I anticipated juddering into Friedrichstraße Railway Station, warehouse-like, cheerless iron work.
In reality, I was in the tender care of Great Northern Railway’s King’s Cross, to King’s Lynn, service.
Of all the trains I’ve travelled on, this has to be the most uncomfortable, the most bleak. Two hours of agony. Not a cuppa in sight. A tiny toilet designed by interrogators, favouring ‘the stress position’.
This railway line is horrible, serving, as it does, Cambridge, a global seat of learning and an attraction for academics and tourists.
Who the en-route the MPs are, what constituencies? Heaven alone knows. Whoever they are, punish them on Thursday.
Yet… there is more. There is no tunnel, just miles of featureless landscape but if there were to be, there would be a light at the end of it.
A shining light of enthusiasm, innovation and improvement at the end of this metaphorical tunnel. The beacon of effort and endeavour is, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King’s Lynn.
Worth every bone-shaking, vertebrae crunching, freezing, blinding minute, of the journey, to visit.
The hospital is a prisoner, much as the citizens of East Berlin were; a prisoner of its geography, history and economy.
The CQC has done its best to make a tricky situation, difficult and a difficult situation worse. Fruitless inspection and intimidation had sucked the energy and the life from this place.
With a new chief executive, Caroline Shaw and an energetic, all-female senior management team, the Trust is sending out a clear message… ‘we are proud of what we do’… and rightly so.
Recruitment is difficult, like everywhere, but retention is high, always a good sign. The place is fizzing with ideas and a leader prepared and willing to create the time and space for good people to do great things… and they are.
Their end-to-end stroke services, designed by starting with the patient and working backwards, are world class. The critical care unit was designed by a clinician, nearly ten years ago and works today.
The porters are a premier league team. The chief nurse creates more energy than the towering wind-turbine, than casts its shadow over the estate. The NICU unit that holds tiny, tender life in the palm of its hand until it flourishes at home, supported by their community team.
Staff encouraged to innovate, experiment, come up with new and better through a supported programme of 2020 vision, if only we did this across the NHS.
I’m writing this on the way back to London, as comfortable as a marble in a food blender, beneath the glare of lights that a marijuana farm would flourish under… but, you know what… I’m back before I know it.
I’ve time travelled through the past into a future that is exciting, energised and I loved every moment of it.It’s official, I am The Time Traveller.
News and Comment from Roy Lilley