My Love-Letter to the NHS

To add to the deluge of writing commemorating the 70th anniversary of the NHS, here’s my contribution. I’m not saying anything particularly new, but I want to say it regardless. Mine is just one of many thousands of voices passionate about the wonderful healthcare system we have.

It’s hard to comprehend the millions and millions of people the NHS has helped – saved – since its inception. It’s such an entirely necessary and obvious service to have that I’m always astounded when other countries (looking at you, America) don’t offer a similar system.

The NHS has helped me since before I was even born. It helped my mum through her pregnancy and my birth, and then treated my Rhesus disease and resulting anaemia and jaundice in my first few weeks of life. It even removed the weird extra finger I was born with, hahaha. Throughout my childhood it gave me free vaccinations to protect me against preventable diseases and treated the usual childhood maladies and accidents. Since then it has helped me with all manner of acute and chronic health issues when they have arisen (here is the too much information part, but I want to give an idea of the variety of things I have been helped with): digestive issues, contraception, pain of various kinds, infections (including a nasty for which I was hospitalised), allergic reactions, heart problems, skin problems, mental health problems, chronic fatigue, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and its various manifestations, a brief pregnancy and miscarriage. I’ve had tests, screenings, X-rays, scans, GP appointments, surgeries, hospitalisation, counselling, physiotherapy, outpatient assessments, inpatient assessments, and probably a shitload of other things I can’t think of right now… ALL FOR FREE. All I’ve had to pay for any of this is the standard prescription charge if I’ve needed any medications. And this is just for one patient. I can’t begin to list the things I can think of that the NHS has done for my friends, family, and complete strangers.

The NHS is far from perfect. It can’t always fix our problems: sometimes it can’t even figure out what they are in the first place, and all of this can be frustrating. I think every user of the NHS has had at least one bad experience with access to, or quality of, care. I’ve certainly been vocal about bad experiences on many occasions. But the thing is, it’s not the fault of the NHS itself. Any problems with its execution are, on an institutional level, down to poor management, bureaucracy, a lack of government funding, or inadequate training. Occasionally, you might be treated by a slightly below-par doctor or nurse or other healthcare professional, but this variety is typical of ANY staff in ANY industry. And for every bad experience, there are many good ones that we barely even acknowledge. It’s easy to take it for granted when it’s just there. The idea that it might not be one day is terrifying.

I am so grateful that we have a system which offers care and support which is free at the point of use without discrimination. Those of us who have experienced ongoing or significant health problems throughout our lives would no doubt be bankrupted if we had to pay for the care we’ve required.

Let’s fight for the continued existence of this wonderful system that we are so lucky to have and be vocal in thanking its incredible staff 💕 the thought of life without it is unfathomable.

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Author: Charlotte Em

Bristol-based artsy liberal feminist. Mama to three ferrets.

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