To the NHS – my NHS,
I know that you come under a lot of criticism for the amount of money you swallow, your lengthy appointment waiting times, high levels of bureaucracy and junior doctor strikes, but today isn’t one of those days. You see, little old me, Fi, I don’t see that side of things really. I only see the wonderful things that you have done for me, my children, my friends and my family. I am lucky enough to have grown up in a country where I take free medical care as a given. I’m ashamed to say that I take it for granted really. Sometimes I even act as though it is my right. So today is a day to say thank you for all you have done for me.
Thank you to the midwives who rushed my Mum into the delivery ward and brought me safely into the world on that dark and icy Winter’s night. I know you must have been up all night long delivering babies and helping women in labour whilst your own families were tucked up in bed. I was in a bit of a rush to meet you all and you stayed to make sure I was taken care of, so thank you for doing that, for welcoming me into the world.
Thank you to the surgeon who studied and slogged for years and years to help people like me, and to the medical staff who worked through the night with him to remove my burst appendix. I was so, so ill and without your skill and quick thinking I would have died that night. You must have saved countless other lives like mine.
Thank you to the midwife who held my hand and listened to my cries of despair when I found out I was going to have a baby at the tender age of 18. You didn’t judge, you just listened and helped talk me through my options. I will never forget your kindness, patience, and the respect you showed to me even though I was little more than a child myself. It is thanks to you that I felt empowered to go on and have my son. It is thanks to you that I decided to be the best mother I could be. I can’t remember your name but I will always remember your face.
Thank you to the GP who insisted that my sickness was not just morning sickness and rang an ambulance to take me to hospital when I was too weak to even stand. Thank you to the kindness of the midwifery and medical team in the hospitals who not only brought my dehydrated body back to life but who laughed and cried with me, shared in the excitement of each and every scan, and who held my hand through two rushed and frightening labours. Without you my pre-eclamptic body would not have kept my babies alive. It is due to the care and diligence of you that I am blessed to be holding my little girl right now.
Thank you to the quick thinking, proactive nurse who spotted the septicaemia crawling up my baby boy’s body, in the grip of the dreaded meningitis. Your actions saved his life that day.
Thank you to the EMI nurses who spent hours with my beloved Granny in her final few years, taking care of her, reassuring her when she was frightened, and for the respect and dignity that you always showed to her and my family. What a difficult job you do and I have so much respect for your patience and kindness amidst so many pressures.
Thank you to the theatre nurse who sat with me when they rushed my little boy off to theatre after a big, post-operative bleed. You made me a cup of tea, steadied my shaking hands, brought me a box of tissues and reassured me that it would all be ok. You were so busy on the ward that day and yet you gave me all the time in the world. Thank you for taking that time to be with me when I was terrified and vulnerable even though it meant you returned home late to your own babies.
Thank you to the medical team who brought my baby back from that awful bleed and kept him safe during his surgery. One of your doctors was working for at least three days straight with us during our time in the hospital and not once did he complain or show how tired he must have felt.
Thank you to the paramedics who rushed to me after a car accident left me broken and bruised. You made me feel safe that day. Thank you to the paramedics who rushed to my side in the middle of the night when my baby stopped breathing. Not only did you make sure that my little girl was safe and well, but your cheery chatter and positive outlook reassured me at a time of massive vulnerability. Who knows what else you had seen and heard that day, but I know you have an extremely difficult job to do, so thank you for being there for me and my family.
Thank you to my health visitor who has been a shoulder to cry on, has answered my 1001 questions, shown care and consideration, and who always takes the time to sit with me and have a cup of tea despite having a mountain of paperwork in the office and harrowing court documents to put together. You make me feel valued, empowered to be the best mother I can be and cared about.
Thank you to the health care assistants, cleaners, porters and cooks who have helped run the hospitals I’ve been in and that my children have been in. You make the running of the wards a better place. You always have a cheery word or friendly smile for me and I have never once heard even one of you complain about the anti-social hours you work or the abuse you come into contact with.
I know the NHS is facing an uncertain future and who knows what it will be like in the years to come. This letter is not about the politics or the uncertainty. This letter is to each one of the NHS staff who has been there for my family and I with the medical knowledge, kindness, respect and positive attitude that we have come to take for granted. Today I want you to know that I do not take it for granted. I literally owe you my life. So thank you for being there and for making the NHS great.
My NHS. Our NHS. Your NHS.