Crisis, threat and concern for the future have been the themes of our posts on the NHS. But sometimes we need to remind ourselves why we ARE so concerned about the NHS – remind ourselves about what it means for individuals, about what makes it so precious.
So after a view from the bedside of Gerry, a nurse in the NHS, here’s a personal view from an Adel and Wharfedale Labour party member on his experience as a patient.
“Five reasons why I love the NHS in Leeds:
1. Because until five years ago I never gave it a thought. I ought to be ashamed and I am. More of this later.
2. They are world leaders in medical expertise and research. Five years ago I went to a GP with a minor problem: “Dear me, we don’t see you very often. Better run some routine tests”. The tests revealed the need for a couple of operations and the minor problem turned out to be leukaemia. Within what seemed like a few days the Bexley Unit at St James had the precise nature of my disease identified down to the specific chromosomes, a monitoring program in place, and a cocktail of four medications prescribed for use later.
3. They are wide awake when it comes to practical medical care too. On my first day of what they call treatment – what you and me scarily call chemo – it seemed to me a breeze: I was mildly puzzled why two nurses kept popping by to ask me how I was. I was fine. Didn’t they have sick people to see? But then a black blanket seemed to be creeping over me, a traumatic reaction to the medication, oblivion – but not quite: those two nurses again, putting something into my arm, and then a doctor arriving and telling them they’d done the right thing. Of course they had.
4. It’s a cliche I know, but you really are treated as if you are the only important person in their world. For quite a while I thought I was getting specially personal care. Such friendly greetings. Such detailed knowledge of my case history. I thought maybe my case was specially rare or interesting, the treatment uncommonly successful. It took me a while to notice that everyone else thinks the same. We’re all special.
5. As I said at the start, until I needed it myself I never gave the NHS a thought. But imagine what all our lives would be like without it, where people got only what diagnosis and treatment they could pay for, and many people got next to nothing. Disease would flourish and resentment and hostility accompany it. We don’t need to imagine – just look at the dozens of turbulent and dangerous countries where healthcare and other public services are neglected by selfish elites.
Rich or poor, fit or feeble, we all benefit from the contentment, stability and security that the NHS provides. Let’s look after it.”
It is now the Labour Party’s responsibility to look after the NHS as well as the NHS looked after him.