When trying to work out what my next post should be about, I found this photo in my drafts, with the single sentence ‘The NHS is brilliant’. I’m not sure quite what prompted this but it is true! I believe this mug was a present a couple of Christmases ago from my friend Paul, who will doubtless be very happy to know it’s one of my favourite and most used mugs!) Also if people want a good cry, listen to Lucy Wainwright Roche’s Accident and Emergency)
Aside from the very long process of getting a diagnosis, the NHS has been fantastic to me, despite being woefully underfunded and systematically undermined by politicians. Much of this isn’t news, and none of it is really original. Anyone who has encountered the NHS will know what I have to say. I’ve been particularly impressed with the staff I’ve encountered since I was diagnosed – they’ve been almost universally brilliant, from nurses to consultants, doctors to porters, radiotherapists to healthcare assistants, and anyone else I’ve missed off! At every step, I’ve been treated as a human being by people in very difficult jobs and situations.
I’ve also been able to see the ways in which underfunding services makes a difference to treatment received. Charities often have to pick up where funding just isn’t there. Whether that’s research or support, the vital work often falls to organisations outside the NHS – even though cancer is one of the most invested in areas (especially compared to mental health or chronic illness), brain tumours are much less invested in. Over 10000 people are diagnosed each year with a brain tumour of varying severities. If the NHS was properly funded, diagnosis time might not be the huge issue that it is (many people, especially young women, have very similar stories to mine). I’m a big believer in the personal being political, and I don’t think you can really separate personal experiences from political choices. It is a deliberate choice to essentially starve the NHS of funding – we’ve seen that very recently with surgeries being postponed due to the ‘winter crisis’.
The NHS means I’ve made it to 2018. It’s meant that I got to see the Last Jedi, and that I ‘only’ have to worry about having a brain tumour instead of also having to worry about the cost of treatment and hospital stays. Even in Italy, where thanks to the EU there is reciprocal healthcare, when the insurers didn’t immediately get a move on and we had to stay longer than hoped, knowing the cost of healthcare at least would be covered meant I had one less thing to worry about at an obviously very worrying time.
So thank you, everyone who works for the NHS. And if anyone sees Jeremy Hunt, please slap him for me.