Today, the National Health Service in Britain celebrates its 65th anniversary. Like millions of others I owe my life to the NHS, metaphorically and literally. In no particular order, here are 20 things that I want to thank the NHS for:
- For meaning I can afford the 22 tablets I take each day to make my slightly broken body work a little more like it should, and the physiotherapy that keeps me moving.
- For fighting for me, even though my immune system often doesn’t want to.
- For the vaccinations that we take for granted even though millions around the world do not have the same privilege.
- For not giving up on me even though you can’t cure me.
- For patching me up when I break myself because I am a clumsy fool.
- For chopping out bits that are misbehaving and fixing my insides.
- For not letting me die when I turned out to be a bit rubbish at the being born thing.
- For looking after people I love and helping them to become well again, and making them comfortable even when you couldn’t make them better.
- For the doctors who let me stay with my nan for every chest drain and blood test so she didn’t have to feel afraid.
- For every paramedic who has ever come to the rescue.
- For the radiographer who told me that the smashed up bits of ankle floating in my foot looked like a cool far away galaxy, even if it wasn’t the ideal place or number of parts for my ankle bone to be in.
- For the nurse who let me try to chop his arm off with the saw when I had my first cast cut off so I wasn’t scared.
- For the dentist who has known me longer than anyone but my immediate family.
- For the physiotherapist who cried laughing at me when she was teaching me how to walk again, helping me to be able to laugh about it too.
- For everyone who has bravely tried to pronounce my name with confidence to a crowded waiting room.
- For the doctor on the night shift who offered me half of his chips after seven hours in A&E.
- For every phlebotomist who has battled to pry blood out of my stingy veins (and the junior doctor who cried because it took her seven attempts).
- For the nurse who gave me off-cuts from the plaster room so I could make a Greek pot for my classics project when I was stuck at home.
- For every person who has asked “Are you okay?” and meant it.
- For countless cups of tea and sympathy and about a kilometre of tubigrip.
I could go on writing this list for days, I have so much to be thankful for. Doubtless the system has its problems – my nan died of lung cancer six weeks after a nurse told her she had a chest infection when the doctor was too busy to see her, and I’ve probably spent actual weeks of my life in waiting rooms – but the good that the NHS does far outweighs the bad. We are quick to complain and take it for granted, but I’d wager that every person in this country could write a list of things they owe it for. Try it – you’ll be surprised and incredibly grateful.
Thank you, NHS.