Today didn’t go according to plan.
Thankfully, sixty-three years ago Sir William Beveridge’s plan for a national health service became a reality, and it was his NHS that came to my rescue today.
On my way to work, accompanied by Leftwing Idiot, I hurt my leg badly when it suddenly ticced at the bottom of the stairs. Even though Leftwing Idiot was holding on to me and I didn’t fall far, I twisted my ankle landing heavily on my foot. There was a horrible, loud, crunch followed by a lot of mysterys and mintys.
It was incredibly painful and I knew immediately that I wasn’t going to be able to ignore it. Leftwing Idiot was fantastic and calm, and the cab that was waiting to take me to work took me to my local hospital, King’s College, instead.
From the moment we arrived until the moment we left I was treated efficiently, with kindness and understanding.
The taxi pulled up outside A&E. Leftwing Idiot went inside and within seconds reappeared with a porter and a wheelchair.
I was wheeled into reception where I gave my details and a few minutes later I was seen by a triage nurse. She showed me huge empathy and took me to a cubicle where my ankle was examined immediately.
I was on my way to be x-rayed within 20 minutes of arriving. The radiographers were incredibly cheerful and resourceful in getting clear pictures of my leg despite my tics.
After a short wait a doctor came and told me my ankle wasn’t broken and that I could go. But after seeing me trying to walk, he reversed his decision and said it wasn’t safe for me to leave because my leg tics were sure to cause further injury. He decided that a physio should see me and look at what could be done to help prevent further damage.
I was taken to the clinical decisions unit (CDU). On the way I kept ticcing threats to jump out of the wheelchair and the nurse made sure Leftwing Idiot walked in front to stop me.
In the CDU I was given lunch. No one batted an eyelid at my tics and I could see that the kindness I was being shown was normal, not exceptional. The physio listened to me very attentively as she assessed me, and took a great deal of care to make sure I was safe to go home. She gave me a big boot to help stabilise the damaged limb, and arranged a follow-up appointment in a few days.
My day had suddenly gone from being very familiar and routine to being frightening and painful, but the NHS was there, as it always is at times of crisis, to provide the help and care I needed.
Throughout today I was reassured and cared for and I didn’t have to fill out a single form or discuss any payment plans. The decisions made were based solely on what I needed and everything was provided quickly, and with good humour. This will have been replicated countless times up and down the country.
Obviously a system of this size will not always work perfectly for everyone, but my experience today and on many other occasions has reinforced my belief that we need to do everything we can to protect the NHS.
The NHS is under threat, with the government proposing radical changes that would destroy the service as we know it today. If we can’t prevent it, the NHS will stop being the universal, comprehensive public service which looked after me today, and will be eaten away by private health care companies. Criticism of the Health and Social Care Bill has come from all sides, including independent commentators, the Health Select Committee, the Royal Colleges, and the British Medical Association.
If the bill goes ahead it will be more than just Claire Rayner who comes back to haunt David Cameron. The consequences of losing this amazing service would be devastating.
I’m off to sign the petition to save our NHS so that if future superheroes come a cropper in another sixty years, there will still be a health care system to save them.