I loved this letter in last Friday’s paper... “I have just had one of the best holidays of my life. Having been taken (speedily) from my home to my destination, I found myself in a bed I would love to have at home, with a great view from my bedroom window.
“I have had attentive staff wait on me hand and foot, nothing was too much trouble, day or night, plus good food of my choosing.
“Yes, I can highly recommend the John Radcliffe Hospital for a short break. This 73-year-old went in a wreck, but left feeling she could have skipped to the bus stop.”
This was written by Irene Barlow of Headington.
Now not only is this a witty bit of correspondence, but it also performs that rare miracle of hitting the nail on the head with all the clinical precision of a surgeon wielding a scalpel.
Ms Barlow take a bow, because if ever a sentiment should be printed out across the city’s billboards, it’s this. Because make no mistake, the NHS is a living, breathing wonder.
And having just typed that last word, I realise just how appropriate it is, for the NHS is a creature of ‘wonder’.
Naturally, some might argue that as a consequence it is also a creature of myth and legend, but I disagree.
Whatever the current problems and faults are that undermine the validity of our National Health Service – and these let’s agree are as far removed from the coalface of caring as TV’s ‘talent’ shows are from discovering genuine stars – the truth of the matter is that when the accountants and PAs and project leaders and community liaison directors are all off on their holidays, the carers at Ground Zero remain committed, brilliant, inspiring and selfless.
Certainly, every time that I have had to rely on the services of the NHS – whether at GP level or in emergency admissions – the nurses have been astonishing.
Quite why our health service needs an army the size of China to fill in documents, tick boxes, and generally occupy whole office blocks with a call centre mentality is criminal.
The only people who really matter are those who hold our hands when we’re scared, befriend us when we’re elderly (and thus invisible), embrace our frailties and comfort at us like family when we’re forced to teeter on the edge of the abyss.
Personally speaking – and probably naively too – I just love the fact that I can wander into the John Radcliffe, request a full examination, and then leave two hours later without so much as a name check (and for that whole experience be treated like a Virgin First Class passenger).
Doctors rock, nurses rule, and for those whom caring is just a business and not a vocation, I truly hope your staff Christmas party and Secret Santa is reward enough...