The NHS. Occasionally you hear horror stories about patients’ treatment within our health service, while the letter pages of this newspaper often carry letters from those thankful for their experience.
This week I, for one, am grateful the NHS exists, because when I needed help it was there.
I was that person awake in the middle of the night, in pain, afraid and desperate, and I am glad I knew I could dial 111 for advice. I found the 111 service reassuring and helpful and spoke to a trained advisor and a nurse, before being told the GP on-call service would telephone me within two hours. In fact, it took far less than two hours for the service to get in touch. No sooner had my husband boiled the kettle than my mobile rang and we were asked to make our way to West Suffolk Hospital to see a doctor.
Arriving at around 3.30am, there was barely a five-minute wait to see the sympathetic on-call GP, who referred me to the surgical team and we were sent round the corner to A&E. There I was promptly installed on a trolley and, before long, was seen by a junior surgeon who said I would be admitted as soon as a bed was available.
My husband went home at 6am to give our ageing cat his 12-hourly insulin injection, and by the time he returned to the hospital at 7am I was safely installed on ward F7, about to eat my breakfast and making my choices for lunch. I don’t know what was going on behind the scenes, but the whole process felt seamless.
Throughout the day I was checked on regularly.
From the nurses who did their best to ensure I was as comfortable as could be to those who kept me topped up with water, squash and the occasional coffee, I was treated with respect throughout.
But the biggest bonus was the overwhelming relief that we were no longer on our own and a medical solution should soon be on its way.
By midnight I was back at home and tucked up in my own bed at last, on the road to recovery.
In the same week I visited my own GP three times and was seen twice by a practice nurse. I’ve never used our health service so much in my life – thank goodness it is there for us all.