4 2 mins 10 yrs

We are regaled with yet another ‘survey’, bringing us conclusions that we all know and have learnt by heart already. ‘Dignity’ is the new watchword, and apparently woe betide any nurse, assistant or doctor who does not treat a patient with courtesy and consideration! Yawn, blah, blah, heard-it-all-before!

As I myself was ushered into hospital in Newcastle, I was asked “How did I expect to be addressed? Was it to be ‘Mike’, or ‘Michael”?

My name, which was solemnly written in black marker above my bed, was of course ‘Mr. Cunningham’. I believe that I was the only patient in that entire 1500-bed hospital to ask to be addressed by his surname. You might ask why? I do not grab at Christian names of people whom I have just met, I do not know them. At that stage, I don’t know if I wish to know them; so they remain as Mr. XXXX, or Mrs. ZZZZ; or by their title, until such time as we mutually agree that we have known each other long enough to dispense with the formality, and address one another by our given Christian names.

Informality breeds, as far as I am concerned, contempt; and a too easy leap into informality leads to a destruction of the necessary gap between those who work in a hospital, and those who have to be there because they are ill!

I am a person, with a name and an individuality given me by my Creator, and I will never, ever, call some snotty-nosed git ‘Robin’ because he wishes to be ‘comfortable’ when talking with me! Neither will I ever let him, or any other complete stranger, call me anything else but Mr. Cunningham until I specifically permit them to do so!

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4 thoughts on “…and call me by my name!

  1. “I am a person, with a name and an individuality given me by my Creator”

    I feel your pain, Mr Cunningham. Yet there are those worse off than you. I chap I know isn’t even addressed by the name given to him by his creator. To his consternation he’s known variously as “The Monster”, “Frankenstein’s Monster” or—and this really galls him—plain ol’ “Frankenstein”.

  2. I spent all my working life in hospitals in a professional capacity but, as my years lengthen, I have also had to spend time as a patient. I have never found cause to be upset over whether I was called Mr. Turner or Peter but I have always bridled at the fact that nurses, doctors and other staff never seemed to read my case notes and learn what I did and what my expertises were. Thus I am always addressed as a patient and patients are spoken to in a particular way almost without exception. This is where the the patronising element takes place. Because I am a patient I am only expected to have a limited understanding of my condition and all that surrounds it. However, once I inform the nurses or doctors of my past employment and my qualifications I find that I am treated in a completely different manner, a much more informed manner and a much more inclusive manner which is good because after 35+ years on the other side of the bed clothes I find that I identify far more with the staff than my fellow patients. It is rather lonely being a patient particularly as most patients talk extensively about their conditions and they have often been told a load of twaddle or have completely misunderstood what has been told to them yet it would be most unprofessional for me or anyone like me to interfere. So my complaint is, on the whole, directed at how staff communicate with patients and how to stop them taking a patronising approach to that essential task.

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