What have you done to save our NHS? I mean what have you really done?
I’ve signed local petitions to save local services threatened with budget cuts down the years, publicly written about my belief in the NHS and its staff in newspapers I’ve worked for and what else?
Very little, to be honest.
I’ve never gone on a march, written to my MP, or the health secretary of the day about services.
I’ve never made a point of being near a picket line, junior doctors or whoever, to thank them for their work for me and my family and friends, past, present and future. I’ve never said ‘I’m with you’, so someone could hear.
Last Sunday evening, I began feeling an immense pain in my abdomen. It got worse. The agony was such that on Tuesday morning I went to the GP. Now, back in Coventry, I would have been told I couldn’t have an appointment for another month, such is the overstressed nature of surgeries under the Branson umbrella, Virgin Healthcare. In Coventry, I would have been referred to the associated walk-in centre, also run by Virgin, with its three hour waits to be seen by a triage practitioner. Then? Who knows,. The privatised NHS care in our communities isn’t quite working as it used to, for all its faults.
In St Ives I saw a nurse practitioner within 20 minutes of arrival, despite not being registered at that practice. Soon, a GP was summoned and then I was sent to Royal Cornwall Hospital at Treliske. ‘Go home and pack a bag,’ was the advice.
At St Mawes Emergency Surgery Lounge and Unit I was seen by a nurse, trainee doctor, junior doctor and then a registrar, with nursing staff busily running around looking after me and others.
Then I was admitted. The standard of care was top notch from start to finish.
It was an unpleasant experience for me, but I wondered how these people working there could stand the unpleasant experience they face every time they walk through the doors. And with a smile. And for precious little pennies and respect from their paymasters in Westminster.
These are the every day people who save lives and make lives better; who deal with blood and guts – and some of the guts in St Mawes were most unpleasant, let me tell you – with consummate professionalism.
Once again, my hat is raised to the men and women of our NHS who do such a wonderful job. And whose constant reward appears to be a demand to work harder for less money.
We’re all guilty of taking parts of our lives for granted. Or not doing enough to show those special in our lives how much they mean to us.
The NHS is special. It will have had a big part in all our lives. It’s time I did more than sign petitions and publicly praise it, in what has to be its darkest hour to date.
What about you?