I was going to write about The NHS weeks ago, but events kept overtaking me and the subject.

‘The National Health Service is the publicly funded healthcare system of the United Kingdom. It is made up of four separate systems that serve each part of the UK: The National Health Service in England, NHS Scotland, NHS Wales and Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland. They were established together in 1948 as one of the major social reforms following the Second World War. The founding principles were that services should be comprehensive, universal and free at the point of delivery. Each service provides a comprehensive range of health services, free at the point of use for people ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom, apart from dental treatment and optical care. The English NHS also requires patients to pay prescription charges with a range of exemptions from these charges.’

Often the NHS is only in our thoughts when we are having our own personal dramas. Sometimes it is in the news for the wrong reasons, when things go drastically wrong. At present it is in the news all the time, it IS The News. The system that has cared for most of us from before we were born until we take our last breath is now responsible for steering the UK through the world wide pandemic. Whilst many people have been told not to go to work and stay at home, NHS staff are hardly seeing their homes. Government quickly forgets all the cut backs, poor pay for some, meddling, outsourcing and attempts to sell bits off that put the NHS at risk and expect all the staff to rise to the challenge… and they have. Perhaps when or if this is over those in power will do the right thing, instead of the public having to continually sign petitions pleading for our national treasure to be protected.
I recently finished reading Adam Kay’s Book This Is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor and reviewed it on Goodreads.

‘When my planned caesarean for our first baby ( breech ) turned into a 1am Sunday morning dash to Queen Charlotte’s Hospital a week early, one of the staff said ‘You’re in luck, the registrar’s on tonight’ I wondered what would have happened if he hadn’t been on. They may also have said I was lucky it was a quiet night. Anyway, everything proceeded quickly. When the same early imminent arrival happened with my third caesarean the same hospital was busy with a worrying lack of progress; the surgeon told me he had another emergency caesarean to perform and he had rung the consultant – for advice, not actually to come in; consultants don’t come in during the night as you will find out when you read this book! The anaesthetist said he had been on for 24 hours, I was shocked, but this was no doubt the norm, then and now. Adam Kay’s book is very funny, but there are dark moments and to an outsider it seems a realistic portrayal of a medical career, the dedication of those who work for the NHS and the cavalier attitude of management and government to our most important and treasured institution. Many readers will find anecdotes that relate to their family’s experiences and people who enjoy medical things are bound to relish this book.’

Adam Kay is now a writer and comedian, no longer a doctor. Is the NHS perfect? Of course not, it’s staffed by human beings, some not as caring as they should be, some arrogant and others too scared to be whistle blowers. Tales of what went wrong and what went right are for another time.
One of the sad aspects of the virus tragedy is that the seriously ill are in isolation, they are not able to see any loved ones. Nor do they have the comfort of seeing the compassionate faces of the medical staff, who in all their protective gear must look like aliens or spacemen to their patients. Those of us who have had treatment in normal times know staff come from all over the world, international cooperation at its best.

25 thoughts on “The NHS

    1. Yes there are wonderful stories and terrible, but it is amazing it keeps going; the founders would never have guessed how long people would live by the 21st century and what ( expensive ) medical advances would be made.

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  1. The NHS is an easy target for criticism, but the stories that reach the headlines – whilst sometimes being scandalous – represent a very tiny tip of a gigantic iceberg of care and treatment. The Tory government’s badly hidden plans to privatise it and sell it to the highest bidder, probably American, are also scandalous. Hopefully the one good thing that will come out of this pandemic is renewed respect and support for one of the best healthcare services in the world. I for one would hate to see stories here like those in the US of people being bankrupted by their health services, or being unable to afford treatment.

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  2. I’ve worked for the NHS since November 1993. Hospital pharmacy, cancer clinical trials and now dietetics. My husband has worked in hospital theatre’s since September 2008. I have stories, bad stories of bullying and not so good managers. I love my job currently, I enjoy seeing my patients and helping them.

    Right now with COVID – 19 I’m possibly going to be re-deployed. Whilst others are putting their feet up and enjoying their families, I’m working on, and keeping the children out of school as long as possible. I’m scared to send them to school with the other keyworker children. My husband has underlying health conditions so trying to make the risk as low as possible.

    I’m proud to work for the NHS but right now it is very hard. For the nurses, doctors and carers in ITU so much harder. So many of them are so very brave. Putting their patients before their own health and happiness. Some really are true heroes!

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  3. You will know more about the NHS than me, the good and the bad. That is a dilemma for parents and school. Well done with your long career with the NHS. My daughter is a community physiotherapist- the only NHS worker in our family.


  4. Our public health care system was at the point of no return too, from funding cuts, incompetence, privatisation, all the usual suspects … and now? We haven’t got past the ‘we promise in a couple of days’ stage yet, and If we can stop our government using emergency funds to ‘bail-out’ the tar-sands and oil industry (yep, they’re ‘thinking seriously’ about it) and other ‘hard-hit’ trillion dollar industries, there will be significant public funds poured back into the system. Yeah, I’m just a tad cynical.
    The good news is, though, that people have learned, and are learning (albeit a painful lesson) about how truly important those front-line workers truly are.

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  5. I rather think the Government regret not funding the NHS properly and therefore causing so many cutbacks to services. In the hospital where I work two whole wards (60 beds) were closed and are now offices. Now, miraculously, they’ve written off all NHS debt in the wake of this plague. It’s a bit like locking the stable door after the horse has bolted!

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  6. Yes Stevie, I was wondering how they can suddenly write that debt off. Why not do that in the first place. The rehabilitation unit where my daughter worked as a physiotherapist was closed down. Now when they need to get people out of hospital there is nowhere to send them.


  7. Such an optimistic article about a service which I can not relate to. Do you still feel the same way now that there has been so many unnecessary deaths because of the drug trials? Do you think that using NHS patients for drug trials whilst scaring them into agreeing without them knowing what they are even agreeing to is really #informed consent? The NHS is bording on being the most corrupt health care system in the world. We are it’s lab rats. We are being marketed on youtube by our own government to drug companies for their experimental drugs. Very sad.

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    1. Yes a long time has passed since I wrote this blog and I don’t claim to be have any inside knowledge. I did say in the last paragraph the stories of what went wrong are for another time. A huge organisation is always going to be susceptible to corruption, which doesn’t detract from the devoted work of staff on the ground who have been wonderful during our family dramas.


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