Why we shouldn’t keep hating on the NHS
Okay, so whilst this post isn’t entirely related to being at Warwick, we do have a bit of a reputation for philanthropy and multiple protests happening all over campus, and it’s kind of inspired me to go ahead and put my own opinion out there.
As I’m sure everyone is aware, there is a lot of debate going on in the depths of parliament right now about the future of the NHS, particularly junior doctors. I haven’t come across a single person who hasn’t supported the strikes of the junior doctors and disagreed with their ridiculous contracts, yet I still see all over the internet so many examples of people moaning about how rubbish the NHS is in Britain. And I think it needs to stop.
Honestly, I’ve been guilty of it too on more than one occasion. I know full-well just how grateful we should all be for the services the NHS provides us with, yet there was a time where every time I went to the doctors I came out grumbling and quite frankly wishing that I hadn’t even bothered. Sometimes, it was rubbish and I did have a reason to complain, but most of the time I was just moaning for the sake of it because I’m grumpy and I’m British and we like complaining about things all the time: namely, the weather, the NHS, and the government.
But when I face the truth, I find that I have a heck of a lot to thank the NHS for. I grew up in a family which isn’t exactly the perfect example of health. We’re all alive, and that’s all that really matters, but we’ve had our fair share of problems.
My Dad has degenerative joints in his back, shoulders, and hips. At 47, he’s had three major back operations, two major shoulder operations and countless other procedures, scans, physiotherapy – you get the picture. I can’t remember a time when he was healthy – his first major surgery was when I was 7 – but I can remember every instance of when he’s got the help he needed, surprise surprise, from the NHS. He takes a carefully monitored concoction of medication every day which enables him to lead a relatively normal life most of the time.
My Mum developed a deep vein thrombosis in her legs following an operation just over two years ago. She’s fine now, but it was one of the scariest moments of my life when we found out, because a DVT is very unpredictable and can be deadly if not caught in time. If left to travel to your lungs or your heart, that’s you done for. Luckily, my Mum phoned a doctor, complaining that she had pain in her legs following her operation, and she was immediately taken to hospital where they diagnosed her and were able to start treating it straight away. It was Christmas Eve, but instead of being at home with their families, those doctors and nurses were there to help ensure that we were able to spend ours together at home.
One of my earliest memories is of my younger brother being rushed to hospital when he had a seizure as a baby. My Mum was home alone with us when it happened, but with the help of a neighbour she got him to the doctors in town, by which time an ambulance was already on its way. Everyone dropped what they were doing that day to help us, not just medically, but emotionally as well, calming my frantic mother and my confused toddler self. Today, my brother’s a healthy 17 year old rugby fanatic.
And then there’s me. I know less about the hospital side, but boy do I know the inside of a doctors surgery. I caught glandular fever in 2011, and since then my body has never really recovered, leaving me with a lot of symptoms which no one really understands or knows what to do with. Especially in the last couple of years, I’ve needed a lot of tests and appointments to try to get to the bottom of things, and I have to say that since coming to Warwick I have been completely overwhelmed by the medical help I have received here. The health centre on campus is incredible, and I guess you could argue that I’ve just been lucky, but my doctor here absolutely refuses to give up until we find out exactly what is wrong with me. When I walk into that room, he knows who I am and why I’m there and remembers all of our previous appointments, and considering how many people he treats, I think that is quite an achievement. The health centre on campus is small though, and sometimes you’ll be sent somewhere else for tests and such, but the main Coventry health and walk-in centre is only a bus ride plus a 5 minute walk away, so we’re in a pretty good place.
I know I’ve been a bit slow coming to my point, but I guess what I’m trying to say is that we all just need to think a little bit about what we’re dismissing when we complain about the work that the NHS do. I am by no means saying that it’s a perfect system, because it really isn’t. Sometimes you will wait hours to see someone, sometimes you feel like you’re running in circles to try and get the help you need, sometimes it’s incredibly frustrating when a doctor doesn’t seem to be listening to you or a receptionist refuses to believe that your issue is important enough for an appointment that day.
BUT when it comes down to it, help is there when we need it. People expect too much from the NHS, demanding that it always works like a well-oiled machine, but the reality is that that is probably never going to happen. Name me one institution or public service that works exactly as well as you would like it to, and you’ll probably realise that that is harder than you think. There really is a tradition in England where we just complain about anything and everything, but without sounding too cliché, I think it’s time we started focusing more on the positive side of things – including the fact that we even have a free medical service at all – and just remember that when you really do need it, help is there, and our doctors and nurses save a lot of lives every day. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters.