Purplegerberas's Blog

A rambling collection of my thoughts about life, my children and crafty things

Tipped over the edge by NHS procurement and audit

Time is flying at a ridiculous pace. I cannot believe October is nearly here. Its a little depressing as well…

This week has not been good. I’ve had a really stressful and difficult week at work that started with me falling out with someone who did not provide support when requested, instead criticised me for a decision taken by my employer. Over a number of years our staffing levels have been reduced as cost improvement targets were deemed more important than the delivery of services to patients.  This week things have started to go wrong. Despite our best efforts we are unable to provide a suitable standard of service. This appears to be my fault for failing to create a contingency plan. In December I had highlighted to senior management that there was no capacity for a contingency and nothing was done. There is a consistent expectation that we will do more with less. I do believe that there is wastage in the NHS and areas can be improved but last year our service went through a long period of change implementing a number of measures to improve our productivity. I believe we have achieved as much as we can on our own. We have ensured service continuity on half the amount of staff we had 5 years ago (in fact we see 30% more people) but the service has absolutely no flexibility to cope with sickness.

The middle of the week saw an incredibly frustrating time over ordering a cable for a computer that left me mentally writing emails to the Secretary of State for Health.  After waiting 6 weeks for a cable from IT I contacted them. It appears they did not understand what I was requesting. The cable in question is available on ebay for £1.30. IT told me that postage alone would cost £10 and looking for the cable myself through NHS Supply Chain showed that the cable would cost £12.45. How on earth can a business the size of the NHS accept £22.45 for a cable that is available on ebay for £1.30?  We have no petty cash and I cannot reclaim costs so again, I bought the cable myself online. I wonder how much is the NHS propped up by well-meaning employees who would rather spend their own money than waste an exhausting amount of time and money going through the official ordering channels.

By Friday I had completely had enough and I sat and debated looking for a new job. This is the first time that I have very seriously had this thought.  At present I believe that I am a nurse first and a manager second. This week has felt the furthest from nursing that I have ever been and instead I have had to battle audits, risk assessments, sickness cover, procurement, finance and IT. All elements of my job that need attention but the demands on my time have been particularly hard.  The NHS cull of middle management was meant to protect patient facing services. My time and workload is proof that this isn’t true and I am now expected to do the work of the two managers above me who were made redundant and still carry on with my clinical caseload. When I’m constantly being told that audits and risk assessments are essential (I agree they are important) it is my clinical work that gets left behind. There seems to also be a trend in sending emails demanding a response ‘by close of play today’ – a phrase that I would happily see banned.

My service is about to enter into a difficult period of time as we’re in talks with our commissioners to create a specification for the next financial year. My thoughts at the moment are to see the service through that process and then evaluate and plan my next move. Is it time to look for the next step or further afield?


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Get fit, feel epic: week 3


I’m shamefully late in posting and linking this up. Just been too busy as usual!

My progress on my goals this week –

Lose 8 pounds

I lost a pound this week so feeling a little more convinced about increasing my calorie intake. Overall it has been easier to manage and less demoralising so I’m less likely to completely lose the plot and have a complete blow out food wise.

Attend at least 2 exercise classes a week

Only managed one again this week. On Tuesday I randomly felt unwell and dizzy so decided to stay at home.

Complete three craft projects

Doing well here. I’ve finished the jelly roll quilt and also a scarf for myself.


Not too sure what to make next. Christmas is preoccupying me so I should get started on some projects and presents for that.

Complete the daily ab workout app at least 5 times a week

Managed 3 days this week. Time and tiredness are working against me. On the mornings I’m working things tend to be a mad rush and I forget or run out of time, in the evening I’m too tired. Need to sort this out and be honest with myself – its only 5 minutes!

Track daily, and track honestly
I tracked 4 days on myfitnesspal. I went to my parents for the weekend and although I wasn’t logging at all I was conscious of what I was eating. I’m not saying I was perfect but I think the pound weight loss was a fair one.

The group challenge for the week was to put our goals in a visible memorable place to prompt and remind us through the week. I’ve always loved how Becks put hers up on a window (how do you do that?!) and I keep debating getting a chinograph pencil. Steven will accuse me of losing it though. I’m a fan of the post it note and a list – my office is covered in lists.

This time I’ve stuck one on my computer monitor and another at home in a prominent place in the kitchen. I find work the best place for motivating myself. I have a laminated sheet of things to remember when I’m stressed stuck to my desk. I cannot find the link to share at the moment!

So I’m sorry, a poor effort this week and my next post its not going to show much improvement. Never mind!


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Another jelly roll quilt

After months of no creativity I decided to make a quilt this summer. Steven’s youngest sister has started university and remembering how cold student houses can get I thought a quilt would be a good present for her.

I chose another pattern from my jelly roll book and took a bit of a cop out by going for the simplest pattern in there. Time was against me so I went for something simple that I knew I would complete without too much stress.

Deciding on a suitable jelly roll took ages – eventually I settled on Moda Tradewinds. It had a great range of colours and I liked the variety of prints – paisleys, floral, Indian elephants and teacups.

I bought a jelly roll and coordinating fabric for the sashing and backing in green and red – Penny’s favourite colours. I panicked from the start that it was a little too bright and busy but eventually I came round to liking it.


Its now finished after 4 weeks – not a bad effort. Its huge. I always underestimate how big the jelly roll quilts are and its fine until I come to quilt them. Getting that much fabric and wadding through my sewing machine proves a challenge.


Get fit, feel epic: week 2


I think I’ve had a good week. Things have not been straightforward as I’ve been away with work but I managed to keep on track overall.

Update on my goals –

  • Lose 8 pounds

My weight has stayed the same this week. Had a discussion and think over my calorie intake and really not sure what to do. More than one person has told me I’m eating too few and I’m wondering if that’s true. On myfitnesspal I’ve got it set up to lose 2lbs a week but I’m debating changing it to 1lb a week and upping my calories. Overall I’ve been good. I’ve stayed on target and balanced out the one bad day with fewer calories on two others.

  • Attend at least 2 exercise classes a week

I got scuppered by going away Wednesday-Friday. I managed one class on Tuesday but not been able to go since (can’t go at the weekend as the kids are around).  Nothing to stop me going to 2 or 3 this coming week though.

  • Complete three craft projects

I’ve very nearly finished the patchwork quilt I’ve made for my sister in law. Sadly I missed her heading to university this week (blaming that work trip again!) so I’m not entirely sure when I will get it to her. It is likely to be finished this evening once I’ve finished this post. Plans already made for the next projects to keep me on track.

  • Complete the daily ab workout app at least 5 times a week

Managed 4 times. I’m finding this easy as its only 5 minutes, done quickly in the morning before I get in the shower. I’ve also redone all my measurements this week to see if I lose any centimetres over the 8 weeks.

  • Track daily, and track honestly

Yes – feeling very happy with this. I’ve got back into the habit of meal planning each morning. Dinner is tracked first so I know how much I have for the rest of the day. I used to do this with weight watchers and it worked then so hoping getting back to good habits will help.


The weekly challenge was to do something that made you feel fabulous. I’ve done a little bit of shopping. Firstly I got myself the Great British Bake Off book. I’m loving the current series and watch each week thinking I really should be more adventurous with my baking.



I also managed a trip to my favourite fabric shop in Birmingham. I was restrained and for the first time left without any fabric. I did buy to patterns though. I’m planning on making some clothes for myself and got the patterns for inspiration – hopefully something will be completed in the course of this challenge. I have a habit of buying patterns and fabric and not actually completing or even starting.  I am determined that this will not happen this time!


I’m now looking forward to a ‘normal’ week after the school holidays. I haven’t worked a full week for a long time. Although that sounds good it creates problems at work so I’m keen to get back to normal and get myself sorted out!


Get fit, feel epic: Week 1


I’m busy with a home organisation challenge and decided to go the whole hog and sign up for a fitness challenge at the same time. My weight loss and exercise has plodded along over the summer. Its not awful but its not good either so I decided to sign up to give it a bit of a kick start and to get some motivation and encouragement from like minded people online. The challenge is being hosted by my lovely friend Becks at Weight Wars and runs for 8 weeks. There is also a prize on offer – a fitbit. I have to confess -this is a major motivational factor and I predict that I am likely to buy myself one in the coming weeks.

Part one of the challenge is to set 5 measurable goals. After much deliberation I have settled on –

  • Lose 8 pounds
  • Attend at least 2 exercise classes a week
  • Complete three craft projects
  • Complete the daily ab workout app at least 5 times a week
  • Track daily, and track honestly


I am getting into exercise after joining a gym a couple of months ago. I’ve decided that going to the gym doesn’t really do much for me. I don’t enjoy it and I struggle to stay motivated and stay there (the steam room and sauna start calling me within 20 minutes of arriving). I find that if I go to a class I enjoy it and I stay there for the full hour. I usually play safe with aquaerobics or pilates but this week I decided to take a gamble with a couple of higher energy classes. On Tuesday I went to legs, bums and tums and didn’t really like it. It hurt, a lot. It did put me off for a few days. On Friday I decided to get back onto it and went to dancefit. It was the same instructor as Tuesday (initial horror) but I loved it.  I never knew I had an inner street dancer but I seriously enjoyed myself. Sadly the class is at a time that I will not be able to regularly go and the only other one on the timetable is on a day I work 😦 Samuel starts preschool next week so I will have Tuesday morning to myself and I have decided that I will be going to a class. Initially I’d planned yoga but now I’m going for it! My choice is either body combat or zumba. I’m going to give both a go and see what I feel. My biggest battle will be deal with my self-consciousness!




Home Organisation 101: week 1



Like a mad woman I’ve embraced the new school year feeling and signed up to the Home Organisation 101 challenge. It covers one room a week and aims to sort out each room as you go. You don’t have to complete the whole room in a week and can work at your own pace.  I decided to go for it this afternoon and have a really good stab at getting my kitchen in order.

First thing to attack was the fridge. It is a clutter trap, mainly covered in magnets but it also attracts important pieces of paper (this is in addition to the notice board in the kitchen!)

I worried about the magnets though. We tend to buy a magnet whenever we visit somewhere, its something we do as a family with the children and it seems sad to hide them all away for the sake of looking neat and tidy. The kids do break play with the magnets and I get fed up of tidying them up and putting them away though. A compromise for me is to keep them all together on the boiler. They’re out of the way so not continually needing clearing away but our family memory board remains intact

Next job involved tackling some of the cupboards. I’d started some work earlier in the year for 40 bags in 40 days (notice the home organisation theme emerging!) I’d successfully sorted a couple of cupboards and made a start on a few shelves so felt today was the day finally finish them off. The first cupboard is directly above the kettle and gets the most use. I’ve been struggling to fit all the mugs and glasses in recently and top of the cupboard had become a bit of a dumping ground. There were take away menus lose at the top along with odd packets of vitamins, medication and herbal tea bags.

I had a clear out and threw away anything that isn’t used. I also found a plastic holder that used to keep all of the take away menus tidy on the door before it fell off. I glued this back into place and added a couple of wooden pegs inside the door to give a bit more storage. I got a basket to keep all the medication together – the majority lives in the cabinet in the bathroom but the daily stuff and most used (like paracetamol) live here. I sorted everything out so mugs and glasses have their own shelf each. I would like the mugs better organised but am struggling to find an alternative way of keeping them in the cupboard.

On to cupboard two and I again sorted and binned in the same way. I’d made a start on the bottom shelf earlier in the year but needed to get it completed. I put another basket in to keep all of my baking and cake decorating things together. I also managed to clear a shelf and have no idea what to put in there yet. There are two more cupboards to go so I’m sure I will find something.

This cupboard sits next to the calendar and noticeboard which I was keen to minimise. A couple of weeks ago I’d seen this post on iheart organizing and had been keen to try it on this particular cupboard. Rather than use a magnetic sheet on the door I’ve glued pegs on to hold various bits of paper. Our gym timetables tend to float around the kitchen or live stuffed behind the slow cooker so this cupboard will become their new home.

Finally I cleared the worktop around the noticeboard. It had become an overspill for the too full notice board and the slow cooker was acting as an impromptu filing system. Slow cooker is now stored away in a cupboard and all pieces of paper sorted, binned, filed or kept if completely necessary.

Overall I’m really pleased with a productive afternoon. I need to label everything up so will sort that out next week on my day off. There are a couple of more areas in the kitchen to attack – this challenge has separate weeks for the pantry and the laundry so I will use those weeks instead to sort my main food and cleaning cupboards. My other project for the week is the fridge. Not sure how to tackle this one so I’m off to have a trawl on google and pinterest and see what I can find.


Happiness online September : pursue a passion

I’ve missed a few months of Happiness Online so jumping straight back in with this months challenge.

The theme is ‘pursue a passion’ and I’ve been thinking about a number of things. The end of the summer is here and September always leaves me a little reflective and planning for the end of the year.

At the start of the year I decided to put my sewing aside and concentrate on work and some studying. Things have calmed down over the summer and I’ve spent the last few weeks making a patchwork quilt for Steven’s sister. I’ve enjoyed the therapy that my sewing machine gives me. I restart my masters next week but I’m keen to try and keep going with craft of some description and feel that my overall workload will more manageable now.


So, my goals for this month are….

Take time to relax and complete some craft projects. I’ve started my Christmas planning so this will also act as a motivator

Have more fun as a family

Get the garden finished

I’m keeping it short and simple. I’ve a couple of other blogging projects on the go (fooooool!) so want to keep it all manageable and more likely to succeed.

Skinny wrist bracelets

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Technology in healthcare

I found a link on twitter today on useful apps for women’s urinary incontinence but disappointed to see that they are all American. It got me thinking though…

There seems to be a reluctance to embrace technology in healthcare but we expect it everywhere else. I recently renewed my car insurance. I hate sorting out insurance and for the last few years have done it entirely online (I find speaking to people on the phone quite painful). It is possible, simple and normal to arrange insurance without ever having to speak to someone.  At the same time I’m trying to arrange an out patients procedure for myself at my local hospital. It is turning into a small saga with no real sign of being sorted after more than 3 months of waiting, writing and phoning. Working full time doesn’t make it easy to contact a hospital department which is only open 9-5 Monday to Friday. In most other sectors of modern life I can contact someone or make arrangements 24 hours a day via the internet. I’m not expecting my local hospital to discuss an appointment with me at 3am on a Thursday morning but a little more flexibility than the current offering would be nice.

Other businesses can do this and have embraced the use of technology to improve customer interaction. Why has healthcare been so reluctant?  My attempts to introduce more technology at work have often been met with a general feeling that it is not relevant to our patient group – it would not be used. My gut feeling is that this simply not true – recently in clinic I had an 86 year old lady offer me her email address as her preferred method of communication.  Whilst our patient population is predominantly eldery, 10% of our caseload are children. We deal with parents, relatives, carers and professionals who are all busy and highly likely to use electronic methods of communication quite comfortably in other areas of their lives.  For our service I created a generic email account, accessible by all team members a couple of years ago. This has been hugely successful in improving communication with both the general public and other professionals.  As a very small service it is difficult to get through to us on the phone and immediately speak to a nurse. The email account ensures that queries can be dealt with more quickly and efficiently than frequently attempting to return calls.

At a time when we are looking to make savings, both in terms of time and money through QIPP, I believe there are a number of small technological opportunities that we can take advantage of for a minimal cost outlay (if any).  Many of these will improve communication with the public or at least offer an alternative method of communication which can only help us to reach more people.

So, I will go away and put QR codes onto our patient information leaflets even though my team worry I have lost it. I have downloaded lots of continence related apps onto my ipad (bizarrely this does not worry my husband) and will be blogging my thoughts very soon.

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Soap making


Some time ago I bought a soap making kit. I vaguely remember that I bought it to use when I was on maternity leave but never got round to using it. I randomly found it yesterday and decided to have a go.  At first I worried that I got it for when I was pregnant with Eloise but thankfully found a receipt inside that showed it was from when I had Samuel (hey, only 3 years ago).  I bought the kit from Bath-bomb.com and they do a range of kits for various soap and skincare products.

For a long time I’d worried about having enough moulds. The kit only came with two moulds and I didn’t know what else to use. I read somewhere recently that silicone cake moulds work well and I have plenty of those.


The soap comes as a large block that you have to chop into cubes and then melt on the hob. You can also melt it in the microwave but I went for using the cooker.


It melts down fairly quickly and you have to keep stirring it, not letting it boil.


Once it has all melted down you add a few drops of colouring and essential oil for scent and then pour into the mould. I decided to go for a layered look, adding a bit of red colouring to the first layer. You have to let it set completely before adding another layer. I’m too impatient for that so put them in the fridge to speed up the setting process.


As well as the colouring and scent, the kit comes with a few extra bits to add into the soap to give it texture. I decided to leave the colour out of the second layer but added in some rose petals.



And so the final result….. not perfect but not a bad first attempt. I like the fact that you can make lots of different combinations with colours, scents and added texture to make different kinds of soap. I’m sure there is a world of soap making out there on internet that I haven’t found yet. It was very quick and simple to do. I’m also ashamed to say I started to think about Christmas presents. I am assuming that they keep well so could make some well in advance of Christmas without leaving it to my usual December panic.  Definitely something to try again soon.


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End of term present

At Christmas I had fully intended making a present for Eloise’s teacher. Things were just too busy and in the end I forgot, didn’t have time etc. (you know, the usual excuses).  I wanted to make a present for the end of the year so this weekend Eloise and I got to work on a little project.

I had spent a lot of time researching on pinterest – entirely necessary of course. There were lots of ideas, some good and some a little too cheesy but I found one that I really liked thanks to eighteen25 and this is our interpretation of it


We took one simple craft box with lots of compartments. We couldn’t find the one I wanted in Hobbycraft so ended up buying myself a new box and donating one of my boxes. I covered it with some coordinating scrapbook papers and Eloise personalised it by drawing a picture of Miss Mitchell (and her chair?!)


We went to Staples and bought lots of small stationery bits and topped up the empty boxes with some lip balm, perfume and sweets. There was plenty to chose from in Staples – I could have spent a lot of money but really that would be fuelling my stationery obsession rather than focusing on the job in hand. I was also overcome with the Martha Stewart range in there. Gorgeous journals and notebooks. Eloise did not understand my excitement.



So very simple to put together – I hope she likes it. I’m hoping its a bit different from the usual offerings of chocolate, wine and candles. If I did this again I would buy the contents over a longer period of time – keep a look out and buy usual bits and pieces as I saw them. Also would be rummaging and buying random things in the sales! Any excuse to go to Paperchase….

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