Never, in the history of the National Health Service in the UK, has it been under such practical and financial strain. People are living longer, the population is growing at a rapid rate with from within and from outside the country, funding has been restricted and previous illnesses which were terminal are now managed more longer term which is of course great news but comes at a financial cost with longer term and more advanced drugs. The newspapers are full of stories of patients waiting for hours in terrible conditions to be seen and missed or late diagnoses with heartbreaking consequences. There have been two high profile debates of medically sustaining the life of infants over the last couple of years which were very emotive stories and clearly exhausting battles for everyone involved. But what we rarely hear about are the unsung heroes who, despite having the odds against them, continue to show up to work day after day to try and make a difference to the people they see. The NHS staff we rely on in times of great difficulty.
My son was recently admitted to our local hospital for a simple and quick procedure. Harry is autistic and so there is no such thing as a simple and quick procedure when it is difficult to explain and reassure him or communicate with him afterwards. Its heart breaking to see him in distress through health issues and equally, it’s hard to see him so scared when he goes for the treatment that may help him. But it makes the visit slightly easier to bear when the people we encounter are so lovely.
Dear NHS Staff,
Thank you so much to each and every one of you who took the time to talk directly with my boy even though he was unable to acknowledge your efforts or chat back with you. You made me feel like he really mattered.
To Sarah the ward nurse who chatted with Harry about his schooling, his likes and his interests.
To Helen the play therapist who quickly realised that the best way to communicate with Harry is to give him two options. Helen, who held Harrys other hand as we walked my shaking boy to theatre before talking all things strawberry to him as she stroked his hair while he succumbed to the fruit flavoured gas. Who cuddled him in recovery and told him he was a gorgeous and brave boy.
To the anaesthetist who asked Harry to open his mouth and told him he was a good boy even though Harry really struggled.
To the doctor who showed genuine concern for my boy and a real hope that he had helped him with the procedure he performed in theatre.
To the porter who shared his love of lifts with Harry as he wheeled him from recovery to the ward.
In the public arena you are a mass of grim statistics, overstretched and under resourced.
In private hearts you are individuals who are massively appreciated, remembered and making a difference.
Thank you from me and my boy who couldn’t say it himself but waved goodbye as we left and smiled when I asked him if hospital had been good or bad, relying “good”.
Huge thanks to all the NHS staff who show up daily to deliver the best care they can. Don’t take it personally when I say that I hope we won’t be seeing you again but do know that I am massively grateful for your service and so is my boy.
If you enjoyed this blog, you may also like – 3 reasons why medical professionals need to talk to my non verbal child.