When asked by Big Up The NHS to write their inaugural blog post my mind was sent spinning with possibilities of what I could cover. I am proud of the NHS. I am proud to work for it as a doctor and proud of it when it cares for me as a patient. Mum and Dad offered to pay for private healthcare when my rare sarcoma was diagnosed but I immediately said no, I was confident the NHS would look after me. And I was right. I owe my life to this amazing organisation and when the time comes for me in die in the not too distant future I am sure it’s services will help me achieve my ambitions for a comfortable and dignified end. Now I’m not going to say that the NHS is perfect in every way and every single experience has been perfect, because that wouldn’t be true. However the good far outweighs the bad by a long way.
So I thought I would tell you about three different people who all work for the NHS and have touched my life as a patient…
I would like to start with Aimee. Aimee is a brand newly qualified staff nurse. She was on duty for her first ever set of night shifts when I was admitted to hospital last month, with an episode of febrile neutropaenia after chemotherapy. I was very ill. In addition to being physically unwell I was also consumed by second thoughts about having chemotherapy and very distressed psychologically. Despite me being reluctant to share my problems Aimee noticed. She did her absolute best to make my stay more comfortable. She wrote an individual care plan to let me self administer my medications. She found me a heat pack when I couldn’t get comfortable. She got down to my level and properly listened; allowing me to express my fears and distress. Her expression of compassion and empathy really helped to make me feel better.
I would also like to tell you about DtM. DtM is the nickname I give to my Consultant Oncologist. I met him in August 2011 and he has led my care ever since. I trust him implicitly. He is knowledgable, gentle, empathic and dedicated. He gives me time when I need it and has a fantastic ability to communicate on my level.
Finally I am going to introduce you to Brian. Brian is a porter. He once took me from the Emergency Department to a Urology ward. I was very unwell with a postoperative infection and in significant pain. Brian introduced himself to me, gently helped me onto the trolley and fetched extra blankets. He recognised my pain without me having to say and pushed me extra carefully over the bumps in the corridor so as not to exacerbate it. He made sure I was comfortable on the ward before he left.
Aimee, DtM and Brian and the care they provide are what the NHS is all about; people looking after other people at the most vulnerable time in their lives. Although I firmly believe we need to recognise and respond to the problems in the system, I also think we just need to stop for a moment and celebrate the thousands of episodes of wonderful kindness and care that happen in the NHS every single hour of every single day.