See. Even Hobbits love the NHS

Ok, picture me clapping right now. No, it’s not Thursday night, it’s not 8pm and I’m not on my doorstep but I’m clapping my heart out. The NHS is nothing short of amazing. Here we are in the midst of a global pandemic, they’re under intense pressure, they’re stretched and knackered and yet they continue to serve, seemingly tirelessly.

My mum was poorly this week (not covid related). She woke up and felt dizzy, unstable and generally unwell. Pretty scary when you’ve not experienced that before. Mum’s first shout?

“Call an ambulance!”

My initial response? “What??!” (deduct daughter points here). What you have to understand see is that on occasion (*cough* often *cough*) my mum can be a touch dramatic. This is a woman who when she’s feeling a bit tired after a bracing walk think she qualifies for a blue badge. You get the idea.

I insisted she have a drink and have a rest instead and I’d check on her again in half an hour. On my return, she was still feeling unwell but couldn’t articulate how. As a compromise to ushering the whole NHS service to the house immediately, I suggested calling 111 instead.

The phone operator was everything you’d want them to be in the event of a potential crisis: calm; warm; professional; efficient. She succeeded where I had failed in identifying actual symptoms rather than emotions from my mum (deduct another daughter point. Hey, the woman is a true professional – what can I say?). Conclusion? They were sending the paramedics round to check. I was pleasantly surprised. There’s a pandemic on! They have the resources to do this? Amazing! They came around pretty quickly and gave mum a thorough examination, giving her all manner of assessments and tests. The paramedics were so friendly, patient and thorough. They were even quite charming.

“You’re never 80??”

After a coquettish giggle, I replied that I was only in my 40s before realising they were talking to my mum. In all seriousness, she does look incredible for her age. Strong as an ox too. Ordinarily.

The paramedics, to be absolutely sure mum was ok, took her to the local hospital for her to be seen by a doctor. They kept her in overnight for tests. I was unable to accompany her or visit due to covid-19 safety protocols but I was able to make sure she had her mobile with her to keep in touch regularly and the staff at the hospital kept me informed whenever they could. I cannot express how impressed I was and am at every single stage of care for my mum. I collected her the following day and, thankfully, she is doing really well. In fact, she was positively beaming and having a right old natter with the nurse who wheeled her out to me. Whatever words I was lost for, mum made right up for it. The paramedics, the porters, the cleaning staff, the consultant, the nurses, the pharmacist – all of them got praise heaped on them. Mum regretted that she didn’t have any money on her to tip them all generously – especially the porters who took her from ward to ward. Mum knew she wasn’t at a hotel (I think…) but it was the only way she could think of to convey her immense gratitude and I think it shows just at home and comfortable everyone made her feel in what was a pretty scary situation.

Not all heroes wear capes.

Heroes. That’s what NHS workers are. Even before the episode happened with mum, I felt almost frustrated that there wasn’t a better way to express it. I have friends who are GPs, nurses, carers and consultants and they’ve told me first hand how exhausting this wave of the pandemic has been and how it’s taken a toll on them physically and mentally.

For this very reason, I invited one of the chaplains from University of Birmingham Queen Elizabeth hospital onto my Sunday breakfast show to share how they are caring not only for the patients and their families but also for the mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of the staff. Jackie Bailey sharing how they prioritise being available for the staff at the beginning and end of their shifts – to be a friendly face and voice to either prepare them to face the onslaught ahead, or calm and encourage at the end of a 10+ hour shift – really moved me. I’m so glad the chaplaincy team, of all faiths, are there to care for those who care for us.

I also spoke to Duncan Logan, a psychotherapist, who detailed how the Primary Health Care team will be prioritising addressing the mental health needs of NHS staff during this time. Thank God for that.

You can hear both interviews in the 7am – 8am hour of last weeks show.

God bless the NHS.

But not just God. Let’s do our bit too. Let’s stick to the rules – that really helps them. Let’s not take them for granted. I often think of my relatives in the States – a first world country – who are in awe that we get comprehensive healthcare free at the point of service. We don’t have to pick our profession based on the healthcare insurance we’d be entitled to. We don’t have to choose between rent/mortgage and a life saving operation – or even a GP visit. Let’s appreciate it and vote to save it and keep it well funded.

We really have the best healthcare service. That is absolutely true because my mum said so.

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