On January 2Nd. at 7.30 pm I was taken in to hospital and kept for 5 days to have tests done and some remedial treatment carried out, I am now back home of course and feeling fine which is a bit confusing because despite feeling OK I am under strict medical orders to do nothing, my physical activity is to consist of a 5 minute walk each day for a week rising to 10 minutes and all the way up to 20 minutes after 3 weeks, my wife and daughters have said "so what's changed"
I was therefore inadvertently given a ring side seat at the NHS show which was very informative, had I been asked prior to my being admitted "do you know the NHS" I would have unhesitatingly said yes and; to an extent that is true if we are talking about its history and what it does as well as it's fame and achievements. I thought I knew what it was actually like at the sharp end where the patients are treated, in this case in the Acute Medical Unit where I was taken and it turns out I knew very little indeed.
The A.M.U. Is where you go when you arrive in an ambulance so there are people in various states of distress and some are very seriously ill, I was not in pain and was aware of my surroundings and quite lucid (unusual I hear some of you say even when I'm well) so there I was sitting up in bed watching a real live "Casualty episode" The atmosphere and tension in this place is highly charged and raw, it requires strong nerves just to sit up in bed and observe let alone work there. I found myself wrung out and exhausted just watching sometimes. On one occasion a guy 6 Feet across from me took a real bad turn and was set upon by 3 doctors plus nurses and auxiliaries for about an hour before they moved him to the Intensive Care Unit, I have no idea how he got on and I don't feel like asking just yet.
The people who work here are heroic I am 63 years old and I am an old cynic so I don't say such things lightly. They are mostly women and many of them look impossibly young to survive such a regime day after day, I was in that unit for 3 days and it rarely let up, day and night. My impression was one of admiration for what they do and sympathy for what they have to put up with to do their jobs, put quite simply even for a layman like me it's obvious they are understaffed and run off their feet, this applies to nurses, doctors, auxiliaries and porters etc. those I witnessed working in the A.M.U. are a formidable team and they pull for each other and support each other, I doubt they would survive otherwise.
During my stay I witnessed just how great an institution the NHS is, my time there coincided with the worst storms this country has seen for many years and my bed was next to the window on the ground floor. I was shaken from sleep one day by the unmistakeable sound of a very large Helicopter landing about 50 feet from me. I opened the curtain to realize I had a front row seat at a real life drama as the chopper swayed and dipped in the ferocious gales before it agonisingly touched down. It was immediately swarmed over by medics and porters with stretchers as they brought in the "incoming" from the accident which happened in Dunoon when caravans were swept away with people in them. Several choppers landed over the next few days as roads were closed and other hospitals were full. It was clearly a dangerous operation which was handled with courage and skill by all concerned and here is the best part, those people rescued were not charged a penny, if that is not an institution worth supporting then Mrs. Thatcher was right and "there is no such thing as Society" I moved eventually to the Coronary Care Ward although I was redirected there on my way to the Cardiac Ward which became full before I could reach my waiting bed, a busy, busy place. The Coronary care ward was very peaceful compared to the A.M.U. and the staff were great, it's almost worth being ill to witness the Auxiliary staff double act of Peter and Tony who look after and entertain the patients they are a hoot. The regime is a little less frantic here albeit while doing a very sensitive stressful job, being the youngest man of 6 in the ward was a rare novelty for me.
We need to cherish the NHS not cut its resources or sell it off; it is the jewel in the crown of the welfare state and we should all be proud of it and protect it.
And lastly, any of my political enemies who write to this blog offering me any sympathy will have their comments deleted.