by Jon Biddle
Welcome to my new subscribers, sorry for the prolonged absence in my blog posts, I have been luckily enough to be able to go back to work and so I have been acclimatising after 3 months of lockdown. It has been challenging, it’s not so much going back to my old routine but instead it is about starting a new routine, a ‘new normal’ if you will. The most pressing question we all seem to have is ‘Are we heading for a second wave?’, the short answer is yes, of course we are, we don’t get off the hook that easily.
Before anything else though, I want to take the time to celebrate the amazing NHS. This isn’t the same ‘COVID-19 Medical Professionals, you are all superheroes back rub’ that to be honest, between you and I, I’m a little tired of. I can say this, I work for the NHS and my colleagues, while we appreciate being told how great we are for doing our jobs. We also know that while kind, words do not make our actual work day easier, action does.
I was working a night shift a few days ago and we had on the operating table a foreign national who was quite upset that they had been scheduled for emergency surgery. The cause of their upset? A worry that their insurance wouldn’t cover the cost of the surgery and they would become indebted if they had the procedure they so desperately needed.
We explained how the NHS worked and they seemed to be genuinely confused by the idea that there would be no charge, we at the hospital would not be asking them for money in return for first class emergency healthcare. As someone who works in healthcare, the idea that your access to lifesaving medicine is connected to your wealth is truly shocking.
Putting aside politics for just one moment there are only a handful of places on this planet where you would be able to receive health care free at the point of delivery. When the penny finally dropped, they became more emotional. Isn’t it amazing how we as a country can do this? You see that is the thing, we have forgotten overtime how precious the NHS really is, it is really something more than special. Our NHS needs to be protected, loved, cherished and dare I say it, respected. It’s like any relationship really, you can become too comfortable and start to take things for granted.
I felt so proud in that moment, proud to be a part of the team that gave life saving surgery to a patient who to be frank is having a shitty time in their life (You rarely need emergency surgery if things are going well ). We were able to to help them through something unexpected and traumatic without the vulgarity of money and wealth playing a part. They told us after, that even with insurance, in their own country the procedure would have cost them over £10k personally. Could you imagine having to spend £10,000 to save a life? The average UK wage is £29,600 to put that in perspective, could you imagine having to spend a THIRD of your earnings on something that you need to survive? It’s shocking that this is already the case in some countries around the world, we need to make sure it doesn’t happen here.
So if you want to show your appreciation to NHS workers, you can keep calling us heroes, we love the priority shopping and the discounts from shops. But what we really want you to do is protect us, to make sure you support the people that support us and hold accountable the ones who don’t. We are an institution made up of all races, sexes, genders and nationalities who will welcome you and treat you no matter who you are or what you’ve done. There will never be judgement and discrimination from us in terms of your healthcare, so we ask the same from you. Oh, and also stop turning up to A&E when you’ve scraped your knee or are feeling ‘a little under the weather’, real people can lose their lives while an overworked nurse gives you a paracetamol and sends you on your way.