Personal Views

Grime and punishment

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: (Published 21 October 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:1098
  1. Bob Britchford

    I work in the NHS. Dirt and ugliness pervade my working world. Ceilings leak, carpets curl, paint flakes, and the NHS goes on: providing a good service despite the surroundings. Why do other countries greet patients at medical facilities with cleanliness, comfort, and clean lines while Britain's hospitals continue to portray an air of destitution and decay?

    For example, I sit one day a week, posing—or so it feels—as a consultant child psychiatrist, in a staff rest room. It is 3.5 m by 2.5 m and contains seven stained fabric chairs and a fridge where the staff of the centre keep their milk and their yoghurt. Half the time I have been working there—seven months—a pneumatic drill has been barping or keening outside the window. For two days a pile driver shook the whole building adding a new type of emphasis to my family therapy. There is a glass door, so that anyone who cares to look can see who is seeing the psychiatrist today.

    Another clinic where I have …

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