Just over 70 years ago on the 5th of July 1948, the National Health Service was launched by Aneurin Bevan, the health secretary at the time. His aim was to provide everyone with access to proper health care regardless of wealth and background. Those ideals help millions of people every single day.
The NHS is often subject to a lot of negativity, and it’s easy to see why. Waiting lists can delay care by several months, maybe even years. Staff are stretched to the limit and funding is constantly lacking. Often leading to patients not getting adequate care. However I couldn’t imagine life without it.
Many of us chronic conditions can often end up feeling resentful towards medical professionals. It can take years of going back and forth and back and forth before a diagnosis is achieved. It’s human nature to be negative. We recall negative memories much more easily. We can all remember the doctor. The one doctor that made us feel worthless, or ridiculous or told us it was in our head. Our negative bias brings up that memory every time we go to the GP or has a hospital appointment. The truth is for most people the doctor was just one person. Just one in the hundreds of NHS staff that have gone above and beyond for our care.
In my early teens I had a mystery illness. It still doesn’t make sense to me or my family. I look back and remember all the tests, all the times I was told there was nothing wrong. It was a horrific experience. That’s the first thing I remember. Then I remember the people. The nurses from the paediatric wards that took my blood. I was scared of needles, petrified at first, but they calmed me down. They explained the process and made it so much easier for me. I was old enough to have my bloods taken at the GP or at adult wards, but my veins would collapse and I was so so scared. The paediatric nurses used small needles, ones used on premature babies. They took blood from my hand rather than in the crook of my elbow because it was less uncomfortable for me. They chatted to me and joked and giggled until I was no longer scared. The next time I had my blood taken I didn’t shake, I didn’t cry, I just laughed and joked with the nurses and relaxed.
I can remember being in a hospital gown. The ones that are open at the back. I had to walk around with just that and my underwear on and I was embarrassed. I was 13 or 14 and it was horrible. That is until a nurse came and realised how uncomfortable and gave me another gown to put on backwards, and a blanket to keep warm.
My GP is incredible. She is the best doctor I’ve had. The first time I saw her I was so nervous. A seemingly endless string of doctors before her that didn’t understand had made me scared of doctors but she understood. She is friendly, softly spoken and put me at ease. I remember nearly crying after that first appointment, I had finally found a doctor that cared, that understood. She was like a breath of fresh air. I fully trust her. I know she will make the best choices for my health care. She listens to me, and that means everything. She understands that I know my body and I know my pain, and we decided on the best course of treatment together. It is a partnership, and I’ve never felt more comfortable with a doctor before.
I am so grateful for the NHS and everything it stands for. I don’t have to worry about how much my treatment will cost. Whether I can afford a test I desperately need. I’m so fortunate to live in the UK and especially to live in Wales where I don’t have to pay for my prescription medications. With so many stresses and difficulties people that are ill face, it’s a relief to know our health is being taken care of.
Thank you. All of you. The doctors, nurses, porters, cleaners, chefs, IT technicians, pharmacists, receptionists, caretakers and all the other people that work together to make our NHS. You do an amazing job, every single day. You change people’s lives, and I am so grateful.
So thank you for everything you do, and happy birthday to our dear NHS.