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Why I will always be grateful to the NHS

Updated: Sep 25, 2020

That seems a funny thing for me to write, you may think. After all, my diary excerpts contain a litany of examples of woeful treatment at the hands of various NHS employees, and of course I ended up successfully suing the NHS Trust for medical negligence. However, I think it would be grossly unfair for our wonderful NHS to be maligned as a result of a few diary excerpts, without appreciating the fuller picture. My page is not a place for political debate, which I find quickly descends into heated arguments on the comments section, and I know that discourse on the provision of medical treatment cannot be easily separated from the politics with which it is necessarily entwined. Nevertheless, my aim with this piece is simply to highlight the tremendous acts of kindness, professionalism and empathy I also encountered during my torrid time of 2011-2013, and beyond. I recognise that many of the deficiencies in my treatment came from the system, and not the individuals, though of course, the dismissal of my concerns by the male midwife at the outset rankles me still. When I came to sue the NHS Trust, I was in a place of complete turmoil – it did not sit easily to me to initiate litigation against a body which had after all saved my sons life. I maintain that this is the most important thing – his life was saved, and human beings make mistakes. It is simply unfortunate that human mistakes, compounded by systemic failures, contributed to a very serious consequence for me. I needed financial recompense for my loss of career and pension, without which I would have significantly struggled to look after the son they had saved.

Here are some of the moments I treasure and remember with gratitude

The midwife who came to visit me

After I was rushed to the other hospital in the city for my colostomy operation, I was taken away from the team of midwives and other staff who had been by side for that first week. It was a frightening time to find myself once again unsure of staff, and procedures. A few days after my operation, when I was back on the baby ward with my son, I was lying in my bed in my private room, feeling very low. I felt utterly hopeless and overwhelmed – I couldn’t even lean over and touch Sam without assistance. There was a little knock at my door, which opened with the friendly face of one of the midwives from the other hospital. She had travelled all the way across the city after her shift, just to see me, to see if I was ok. I burst into tears as soon as I saw her, so touched at her effort, and so pleased to see someone who had been so kind to me. She held my hands as I cried and told me that I would be ok. Such small gestures but they meant the world to me. The feeling of her hand in mine, the tender expression on her face, and the calm determination with which she repeated the words that I would be ok, move me to this day.