You’ve arrived, with no warning, in a hospital. You may be in pain, bewildered, anxious. Stripped of your clothes and draped in a gown, your mind overrun with questions. Why has this happened to me? What does it mean? Can I trust you? Will it hurt? Will it kill me?
For patients, perhaps more than anyone, the unknown can be terrifying. And a doctor or nurse who can speak clearly and honestly may extend a lifeline to those overwhelmed with fear.
Effective communication, in short, is the bedrock of good medicine. Which is why emotions ran high last night when the group NHS Employers invited junior doctors to partake in a “Facebook chat” about the planned imposition of the government’s new junior contract.
Note: this was chat of an hour’s duration, and offered at only one hour’s notice.