Happy birthday #NHS70 today. I have so many reasons to be grateful to you. The family i was born into, would not have had resources to pay for complex treatment. But more than that, going through treatment for breast cancer three times and now in hospital post thoracic spinal surgery; I know all about gratitude to those who conceived of the policy of the #NHS, free at point of need and those who make it a reality daily.
I’m three weeks post op now and the rhythm of care in this neurosurgery unit and the ITU before it is mapped out clearly. I see every day the skills and compassion of the medical, nursing and physio and OT team. First class surgical care is the expected norm and the importance of the complementary nursing, physiotherapy and occupational therapy skills emerge as the focus shifts towards independent care.
The unit here is old fashioned but in the longer term there is a move planned to the ultra modern new hospital. In the middle of the night recently i was making up new verses for the song « what the world needs now » to « what the NHS needs now is WD40 ( a squeaky trolley to check BP etc) . The second verse was footstools ( I ended up using a pharmacy box). Enough pillows could be another verse...you get my drift? Comfort and the apparently little things can be sacrificed when budgets are under pressure but they are important to staff and to patients in the .in my opinion, the best thing we could do this NHS birthday is to acknowledge the inter-connectedness of the care system and value and invest in all aspects of it.
As I write this I’m an inpatient of the Western General Hospital Edinburgh. The Western started as a poorhouse dating back several centuries but now is a national and regional leader in oncology and neurology. The NHS has not stood still and neither should it but the big challenge is adequate funding for both health and social care. As a society we need to have this conversation and develop a commitment for the future that we sign up to contributing to. Next year’s best celebration would be the first birthday of health and social care, free at time of need. Now thats a birthday celebration i would look forward to.