Sunday, 8 January 2017

The miracle that is the NHS!!

As some of you who follow me on Twitter will know, Mr V was rushed into hospital on Thursday following a huge degeneration in his back injury. I'm not going to go on about that other than to say he is definitely on the mend, but I am going to offer some thoughts on the NHS. Obviously this is poignant at the moment as the Red Cross have declared a humanitarian crisis in our hospitals.
What's most apparent both at A&E level and throughout the hospital we were transferred to is that everything is at capacity. At the Bristol Royal Infirmary Majors dept there wasn't a bed free and as soon as there was, another ambulance arrived with another critically unwell person. Having said that, the treatment was exemplary, not just medically but on a human scale. Both nurses and doctors, whilst obviously at peak capacity, took time and effort to explain what they thought was going on, what was being suggested and how the conclusions being brought were going to impact on the patient. 
But the incredible care started long before we got to A&E. Calling 111 can sometimes feel like a thankless task but hearing Mr V crying in pain in the background the operator put us immediately through to a doctor who immediately called an ambulance and stayed on the phone until the ambulance crew arrived. When they did arrive not only were they professional, calm and caring, but they took their time and understood that there was a level of confusion in the patient caused by acute pain, exhaustion and a huge cocktail of pain relief. Not only did they make quick, definite decisions, but they kept us both informed and were supportive of both patient and career. They even made sure I had the cash to catch the bus into town so I could just get dressed and organised and follow straight away. 
We were transferred from Bristol Royal Infirmary to Southmead by the same crew, who ought to have been headed for a meal break but offered to take us as they knew our history, that we were both somewhat terrified by the speed at which things were progressing and felt they could offer the necesssry support. I will forever be grateful to that crew. 
Once we arrived at Southmead again we were treated speedily, professionally and with the ultimate respect. Nurses, doctors and anaesthetists all spent precious time with us, going through options, explaining what they thought was best and why and going over what had brought them to this conclusion. It felt that kindness, respect and patient care was firmly at the core of everything they were doing, and that carried through until we left. Every single member of staff treated us as humans, respecting our need to ask questions and being very honest with their answers but also realising our vulnerabilities, never rushing decisions.
For me this is such an important story to tell. We know the NHS is having funding cut right, left and centre and we know it is stretched to beyond capacity. We know difficult decisions are being made every day and that in many places hospitals are struggling to cope, with people waiting in A&E departments for hours at a time. There are terrible tales.
We're also aware that there is privatisation happening in our hospitals. Costa coffee and M&S food stores, pharmacies run by high street chemists and outsourced catering are all signs of that happening before our eyes. 
So what can we do?
Well share your positive stories is a good and important start. Our story isn't the only one, and we know that because we saw other people all around us being treated just as amazingly. We saw people at their most vulnerable being treated with care and kindness. We saw relatives having complex issues and procedures explained to them as if they were the only family in the building. We listened as a man crashed and a team brought him back in away that made you know that not only did that team have the backs of the patients but also each other. We saw pressured nurses seeing relatives concerned and upset making sure they looked after them as well as they were the actual patient.
Looking back I realise Mr V was an emergency case all the way through the first day, although I didn't realise that at the time, mainly due to the calm of all those amazing people. From arriving at Southmead to going to surgery took less than two hours, which is extraordinary. And just to point out the obvious, all of this was completely free. 
So let's tell these positive tales, support our NHS in any way we can, and demand our government supports this wonderful institution. Being without it is a terrifying thought and one that we must ensure never happens. 


  1. We have also had positive treatment at our local hospital. We had one blip when a close relative was rolling on the floor in pain (kidney stones) and the ambulance wouldn't come despite two of us asking politely. I gave up when they asked if he was breathing ! , and got him into my car, but the hos[ital A&E were brilliant and had him into a side room with a specialist within twenty mins. What did shock me was the amount of people waiting in A&E who likely didn't need to be there. Spoke to someone t'other day who often goes to walk in centre with a common cold. To help the NHS we have to re-educate people.

  2. Hi Sara, it is so good to read this - both myself and my wife have worked for the NHS for over 30 years - I have just taken early retirement and work part-time. Over those years we have seen several 'reforms' by politicians but I can truly identify when the rot set in - it started in the 80's when the internal 'market' was introduced. We started to see standards drop as in-house services were taken over by private companies. The point was we all once had pride in working for the NHS - When I qualified as a Registered Nurse I was proud to wear the uniform. From the domestic services to the Consultants - we were all part of one organization. Efficiency became the byword which usually meant doing more with less - I remember the standard of cleanliness falling as the control passed from Ward Sisters to private control.Perhaps the organization did cost more pre privatisation, but we had more beds - we had specialists in elderly care and nurses who wanted to work with the elderly on specialist units - all these were culled and beds drastically reduced. It has been a tale repeated over and over. Health care is about ourselves not profit. It is costly and should be costly. To have the correct levels of staff to provide excellence means cost. We have to decide whether we want to pay more for the service through taxation. And yes as a community we have lost resilience and the ability to self care minor problems.GP's are struggling to gate keep. Mr Hunt THERE IS A CRISIS ! Sorry for the rant and thank you for the support x

    1. Hi Hi Paul. I think it's interesting to look at this with your insight. Without a doubt there is a crisis and I guess it goes back to that same old thing of let's save money. i just think that saving money on health is ridiculous-let's ensure we have a great NHS and ensure it continues to be the institution other countries look up to as the right way to ensure universal healthcare for all. And please, rant away. I also have to say I am a little tired of hearing about the crisis and sensationalist programmes which are only looking at the negative!

  3. Hi all Mr V here. When your mind is preoccupied with intense pain and there is no way of dealing withit apart from drugs. And watching your wife try to help you on her own there is no other way to described the relief when the paramedics arrive. Every one of them just concentrated on helping me and more importantly helping Sara. The hospital staff were great and helped me in every way they could. Recovery starts now.