Let's celebrate...

Medical director Derek Sandeman reflects on how lucky we are to have the umbrella of care that the NHS provides, and the importance of taking pride in what we deliver.

I love it when I see someone else’s passion through their eyes. I was talking to a colleague and she described growing up in a small village in Africa. I could feel the sun and smell the warm African earth. Her passion was for the community. The village was one family. If someone came into some money they all ate well, if someone needed help or support they were all there. Mostly she talked of the music, the laughter, the dancing and the communal meals, the energy from her family. Her eyes sparkled as she remembered the overwhelming capacity for happiness in her childhood and youth.

She told me this on a grey drizzly day in the UK, a day when after a long day at work she would return to her flat and the contrast was palpable to me. She did miss her old life, but when I asked she was clear she did not want to go back. What was it that made her want to stay (besides the love of her partner)?

Her answer was not expected. It was the umbrella of health care. She did not want to live without it. We take it for granted. I watched "Unreported World” a program about an ambulance driver in Somalia. A pregnant woman was picked up struggling in labour at home, it all turned out well. However in passing the commentator mentioned that in Somalia at present 1 in 12 women died in labour. We forget that people still die of easily treated illness around the world.

The NHS is 70 this year. I am a bit of a grump about these anniversary celebrations and usually don’t get involved. But we must, we need to recognise how lucky we are, I am going to make everyone I know understand how good the NHS is. We look to America, to a country where the commonest cause of bankruptcy and homelessness is ill health to find new models of care! At times many are blind to the fact that the NHS is amazing. We are really lucky to work in it, to be able to deliver care to all equally whatever their background, to work at UHS and to shelter with our population under its umbrella. We need to make sure everyone knows how proud we are, how lucky we are as a nation. If we don’t shout it out then who will. It is far too easy to take it for granted...

17 May 2018