Today, the 5th July 2018, marks the 70th birthday of the NHS. Whilst we as humans only really celebrate things properly when they reach a milestone anniversary the NHS is something that should be celebrated every single day.
In my opinion, the National Health Service, is the UK's greatest invention. Amongst a long list of discoveries, breakthroughs and advances that the UK has pioneered the NHS stands as a pillar of what it means to be British.
Over the years it has evolved into a giant beast that is one of the Top Ten employers in the World by numbers and is one of the most hotly debated topics in the government today. In the beginning it was created with a simple goal, to care for those who could not usually be cared for. Today, in principal, it is still much the same organisation that it once was. It employs people from all walks of life, working in hundreds of various fields, with thousands of specialities but one common goal: to help others.
Whilst I could write all day about the NHS, it's history and it's climate, today is not that day, nor could I, some comedian in his bedroom, give it justice, so I'll leave that to the historians, the researchers and the people who have lived a life in the NHS.
What I would like to do is talk about how the NHS has had a personal affect on me. The image above is not just some image I knocked up out of stock images and vague Google searches. It actually contains the Queen's Medical Centre, where, on 29 July 1992, I was born. Since then I have been cared for by doctors, scanned for broken bones, tested, studied and felt safe by doctors, nurses and carers alike. Similar stories exist for my family members, each of whom has received similar treatment to myself.
But the NHS has affected me in two other, deeper ways.
Since the mid-80s it has given employment to my Mum. First as a nurse and now, for the whole of my life in fact, a midwife. From hospitals to communities, my Mum has embodied for me what the NHS has been, has wanted to be and will be in the future. I'm immensely proud of the work she does, delivering over 500 babies, helping parents through tough times, guiding people on their new journeys as families, training young students to carry on her profession and championing midwifery in the region.
Whilst she might not have climbed the ladder to the very top, and has come under fire and under pressure from above and from bureaucracy, corporate culture and paperwork, my Mum has been every bit the professional and has never forgotten the goal of the NHS: to care for one another.
Again, I wish a short couple of paragraphs could justify my love for the NHS, but again it never will. Maybe one day I will find the words or the medium to truly express it, but on this anniversary this will have to do.
Until 2018 the NHS was mainly a side convenience for me. It was only in the early days of this year that I learnt its true power.
My step-dad, who has been my father since I was 9 (I still have a real dad, don't worry), became incredibly ill. Whilst I'm happy to talk about it in depth I'll let him tell the story when he is ready, until then I'll say this: he was, at one point, an estimated two days from dying.
Not something you want to hear when you're 25, even less so when you're 14 or 16 like my sisters were. ICU, induced comas, hanging by the phone at night, emergency surgery, 20-40% survival rate, things had never seemed so bleak. I had never known real worry or pain until this moment.
It was 65 days until he left hospital the first time. And following a brief three week return to his home, his kingdom, he had to go back for another issue which was a knock on from the first issue in February.
Dialysis, something that we had been counselled on and had been prepared for, was upon us, and the slow process seemed to be never ending. Nurse attitudes, being kept in the dark, feeling like it was two steps forward and one step backwards, you don't know real agony and human misery until you've spent so much time in a hospital that just the thought of trying to find a parking space can give you a panic attack (although to be fair, parking is a nightmare, am I right?).
Again, my words can only mean so much, but there were two things that have kept me sane during this time. The first is my family, whom without them we would all go equally insane together. The second is the NHS. Their tireless work in perfecting their jobs, their tasks and their care has meant that our Richard is alive. And, even better, on today of all days, the NHS's 70th birthday, he is coming home.
I have tears in my eyes and love in my heart writing this.
But there isn't much else I can do (other than pay my taxes!) but to say thank you,
Thank you NHS!