Three cheers for the NHS

I’ve written before about how amazing I think the NHS is. Think about it – a free-to-all health service. What an amazing concept. 

Unfortunately, it’s seen better days and is sorely lacking in investment. Jeremy Hunt seems to be doing his best to alienate every clinician in the country. But it’s still fantastic and I for one never want to see it go. 

A quick story, from my own experience. And it’s not an Epilepsy story, you’ll be glad to hear!

I damaged my shoulder running the Royal Parks Half-marathon back in early October. Like an over-competitive idiot, I decided to sprint the final 500m, and as I crossed the line, I felt a mixture of joy (that I’d beaten my previous time) and dread (that my left shoulder was making a strange grating noise and was suddenly very, very painful). 

Within thirty minutes, I basically couldn’t move my left arm. I couldn’t put my hoodie on, I couldn’t lift the arm to take a drink from a bottle of water and even walking (limping, if I’m honest – I’d just run a half-marathon) began to make it hurt. 

A few days later, the pain had all but disappeared. But after a few weeks of no running, my first post-race run was marked my breath-taking pain in my left shoulder. Not as bad as immediately after the race, but enough to slow me down. A lot. 

Rinse and repeat through November and the boredom of the pain was getting me down. And it was getting worse. Even walking briskly resulted in pain. A pain that came and went like a ninja. Appearing without warning as I’d put on a shirt or roll over in bed. So I eventually arrived at the adult decision to consult a professional. 

Thanks to our NHS, I was able to:

  • Book an appointment with a local GP, at a time of my choosing, using an app on my iPhone. 
  • See that GP within 48 hours and get a sympathetic hearing and some practical next steps.
  • Receive a referral for an MRI.

This was on the 23rd of December, just as the UK was descending into the madness of Christmas. 

I received a text message on December 28th, inviting me to choose an MRI appointment. I called them back on the 29th and was able to pick an appointment for January 3rd. Tuesday morning, I got the train up to North London and was in and out of the clinic in 30 minutes. Everyone I came into contact with was friendly and helpful. 

Long story short, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. And I know this experience isn’t shared by everyone who comes into contact with the NHS. It can be slow, it can be bureaucratic. I’ve been there. But it can also be amazing. And we should remember that. Especially now, as it’s under more of a threat than ever before. 

Epilepsy-related postscript…

I thought about leaving this out, but couldn’t! I received a call from my neurologist this afternoon. He was responding to an email I’d sent just before Christmas, to discuss some test results and changes to my meds. I got thirty very helpful and friendly minutes of his time and a referral to another specialist.

This was all on the NHS. Free at point of delivery. And really, really helpful. Yes, I know my taxes are paying for this. And I pay them with pleasure. And I’d be happy to pay more for a ring-fenced save-the-NHS fund. If any politicians had the balls to bring it forward…

  1. Well said πŸ™‚ I fear the NHS will be a thing of the past by the time I hit retirement age.

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  2. Love hearing stories about how good the NHS is; the more we share of them the better the public image will be. It’s often an issue of people who are happy/content with the service remain quiet, with nothing more to say, but the unhappy/unsettled of us speak the loudest. My girlfriend works for the NHS and spends a lot of time in hospital due to her epilepsy, so we both know first hand just how fantastic the service is. I know it’s not perfect, nothing is, but I just wish more people realised most of the issues stem from lack of funding and over working, and stopped berating the NHS itself for its faults. Thanks for sharing your experience πŸ™‚

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    1. Thanks for your comment!

      I agree, we could all be more vocal about our positive experiences when it comes to the NHS. It’s too easy to criticise the service, but when you take step back and look at what it accomplishes, it’s amazing.

      I don’t think I’ve ever had an issue with an NHS clinician. I’m afraid a lot of the admin isn’t great, however. But the doctors, surgeons, paramedical teams and nurses I’ve come into contact with have been brilliant.

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      1. Definitely! I think it’s true of life in general, though. We’re always so quick to blame and complain, but not to praise!
        We’ve never had an issue with a clinician either; maybe the odd grumpy person, but that’s natural. Never has anyone been particularly rude or dismissive.

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  3. […] Shoulder-pain aside, I was up for a run, so I grabbed my gear and headed out into the sunshine and the riverside. I love running by the Thames as there’s such a sense of space and there’s always something interesting to look at. […]

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