'Our working lives have grown more rewarding'

The consultant

Jo Dillon
Sunday 02 December 2001 01:00

Based in Cardiff at the University Hospital of Wales, Professor Jonathan Shepherd is part surgeon, part dentist – the man who puts your face back together after an accident. He believes the NHS is functioning "extremely well", that the "pluses far outweigh the minuses".

Prominent among those minuses: his department can't treat all the patients it needs to because of bed shortages. He would also appreciate more specialist nurses.

Money, of course, is always welcome in the NHS. But Professor Shepherd believes that changes in nursing homes so that patients have somewhere to be discharged to after surgery would significantly ease the pressure on beds. "Some patients have had their operations cancelled because of non-availability on the day they were due to go into hospital."There have, though, been changes to the way that patients are treated which have helped cut waiting lists. More patients have been treated as outpatients, supported by a shift from treatment under general anaesthetic to local anaesthetic.

One factor he highlights as important is "high-quality, responsive management who are able to take tough decisions". Through a changing culture in his field, Professor Shepherd has noted marked improvements in the NHS. "Overall in the past 10 years, consultants have come to feel more positive and their practising lives have been more satisfying and rewarding than they were."

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