This is a true story which happened to a friend of mine recently; it underlines how very fortunate we are to live in the UK and to have the precious jewel of the National Health Service. This is my friend’s story and I shall call her Livia.
For over twenty years Livia had been on medication for hypertension and for the most part it was well-controlled. It had first become apparent when she had a bit of an ‘incident’, became very unwell and then it was blues and two all the way to hospital. Within minutes of arriving she was assessed and given something to relieve the symptoms. Before long she was properly assessed and admitted and after a few days stay, her blood pressure under control, she returned home.
All was well but over the years she had other very mild ‘incidents’ when she felt unwell enough to go straight to hospital, to A&R (Accident and Emergency) where again she was speedily received, treated, diagnosed, sorted out, sent home. All this of course was free because she and all of us pay for our medical care through our taxes.
All had been perfectly well until recently, over a couple of days Livia began to feel not quite right, and suspected that once again her medication needed adjusting. Then, before she had a chance to see her GP (general practitioner) she felt so poorly that once again, on a Sunday she went along to the hospital.
She walked into reception, her details were taken, and she was sent through to triage; after a short while she was called in to see a triage nurse who went through the details before sending her in a wheelchair through into the actual triage area where she was put in a cubicle. A nurse came through, put her on an ECG (electrocardiogram) took temperature, bloods, blood pressure etc, and before long a doctor came through. More procedures were carried out and then Livia, garbed in a hospital gown was sent up to the medical assessment unit, a side ward with six beds.
From then on Livia was given more tests, which revealed that rather than it being a blood pressure incident it was anaemia. She was given tea, something to eat, a towel, and stayed in over night with a nurse checking her blood pressure, temperature and pulse every four hours. She was ‘nil by mouth’ for ten hours and then had an endoscopy which revealed the cause of the anaemia, a small already healing ulcer.
Back on the ward she was given medication for the ulcer, a welcome cup of tea and lunch. In the afternoon was given a blood transfusion. She stayed in for a second night and received more blood and medication. During this time she saw several different doctors who explained absolutely everything about her condition and her treatment. There were nurses and other staff, cleaners round several times during the day, tea trolley, meals…
After the second night, when all assessments were completed, she was sent home with an appointment to have another blood test in ten days and another endoscopy in six weeks time. She said goodbye to the other people in the ward (all there for a variety of reasons, dementia, diabetes, being sick for a week, serious chest infection, breathing difficulties, epileptic episodes) picked up her medication and discharge papers, thanked the nurses and left.
This cost her nothing, absolutely nothing; she had paid, of course, through her taxes as I mentioned. The other people in the ward, a couple in very poor personal and financial circumstances received the same treatment. All of them were respectfully and kindly treated, with compassion and humour and understanding. This is the NHS.