NHS heroes


Exactly one year ago today, late into the night, I rushed our not yet one year old baby William to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth. Not for the first time in his life, he was struggling to breath and required hospitalisation to recover. Indeed earlier in 2015 after being delivered at the same hospital, they detected an issue with his breathing which resulted in a stay on a specialist ward for the first week of his life.

The care for Billy a year ago today was truly amazing, and the dedication of every single member of the hospital team which he was lucky enough to have looking after him was inspiring, and it has been evident in every visit to Derriford Hospital by myself or members of my family before and since.

My latest experience of their care was as recent as this weekend just gone. A serious problem with my eyes took me to their Accident and Emergency department on the recommendation of a pharmacist from whom I sought help. Consistent with every other experience I’ve had there, again the people looking after me were simply fantastic. What was a serious problem just a few days ago, now is well on its way to being sorted out thanks entirely to the treatment I received from them.

What did amaze me on this visit though, and probably spurred me into writing this, was the impatience I witnessed in some of the public waiting to be seen, some of whom I have to say didn’t look very ill at all. In the same seat in the waiting area I got to observe the very best and the very worst in people, as the team at this hospital were bombarded by criticism from a number of people who took issue with a wait of over an hour to be seen.

To be honest I found it quite hard to even witness, especially as an air ambulance landed during that time, and some other very sick people were being very well looked after by the staff too. I really felt like reminding these people they hadn’t just ordered a pizza which had turned up late, but this amazing team were working as hard as they possibly could to look after some really quite poorly individuals, perhaps even saving lives. I decided against it, since causing a scene in the waiting area would probably be an unhelpful distraction at that time, but it was really hard not to as I felt incredibly upset by it.

I’m not saying for a moment Derriford Hospital in Plymouth is perfect, or without staffing issues. How could it be when as in common with most of the NHS they are often operating beyond a reasonable capacity, and to an impossible budget, but I will state with those conditions it is a great hospital, staffed by incredible people whom I admire greatly as they make me really appreciate, indeed love our NHS.

The really sad aspect of this is the thought which occurred to me at the time, which was that many of those who complained would probably have waited for hours without a word for a professional footballer’s signature, or that of a pop star perhaps, however late they were. And yet they talk aggressively to the true heroes in our lives, those being the men and women who have devoted their lives to looking after us and our families.

I hope our society changes in the future, and that we move away from a celebrity culture. I shall certainly play my part, and ensure our children value more the people that choose a vocation and serve, such as doctors, nurses and teachers, the people that really do make a difference in our lives and show us such kindness and care.

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