It has become abundantly clear today that I have overdone it over the past couple of days. I’m exhausted. My legs are like jelly and I need match sticks for my eyes. It’s no concern, I generally feel ok and as usual I’m in a good mood. It’s just a case of binge watching Grey’s Anatomy all day!
For those unfamiliar, Grey’s anatomy is an American TV series which focuses on surgical interns, residents and attending physicians. I’m currently watching an episode where the patient’s insurance runs out at midnight, and they’re not due into surgery until the next day. Poetically, today is the 70th birthday of the NHS, and it just serves as yet another stark reminder of how lucky we are to have such a brilliant health service available to us. We don’t have to worry about things like our health insurance running out, or not covering the cost of treatment. I have always felt that the NHS was a great thing, even though up until very recently, I wasn’t one to really use it. I went to see my GP once a year, if that!
During my Law degree, I took the option to study medical law. I absolutely loved it and when studying my Bar exams, went on to study clinical negligence. I studied many cases and in an overwhelming number of them, a compensation culture was apparent. The NHS hadn’t done anything wrong per se and in my eyes, it seemed wrong that they were being sued.
One case that sticks with me (albeit not in massive detail) was the guy who needed an ear operation. He signed consent forms to have his left ear operated on, but it was actually the right ear that needed doing. The doctors made the decision to proceed anyway as he was already ‘under’ when they discovered this. I mean, who wouldn’t? He’s consented to surgery, so surely it doesn’t matter which ear? Oh no – in spite of the surgery being successful and going without a hitch, he still tried to sue the NHS as he hadn’t consented to the right ear being operated on. Madness, right? From that day forward, I knew I wanted to work in clinical negligence, fighting for the NHS.
Life rarely works out exactly as you planned it, and for one reason or another, I fell out of love with the law and found myself working in Learning and Development. Which on my worst days, I just feel indifferent about but for the vast majority of the time I love it. As they say, all things happen for a reason, and I wonder if I would have coped with being a hot-shot lawyer with the hand I’ve since been dealt when it comes to my health.
So back to the NHS. As I said, I’ve always thought they were great, but having gone through the year that I have done, I’ve seen a totally different side. I understand why people get frustrated with it. Sometimes things feel like they’re moving slowly. Going to see your GP is an absolute pain in the back side. I have been to see a GP about some of my relapses (before I knew they were relapses) and they weren’t picked up as MS. But when you get to the other side, and you’re being managed by specialists it’s an entirely different ball game. They are incredible. I cannot begin to explain how well I have been looked after ever since my self-referral to St Paul’s in Liverpool a year ago. I must have been costing them a fortune with all the tests and people’s time. Lemtrada alone comes with a price tag of £56,000 and that’s just for the medication. It doesn’t cover the steroids, antihistamines, antivirals and the bed in hospital. That is insane money!
Whilst I was in hospital, every single doctor or nurse that came to check on me on the ward, had worked 12 hour shifts and they didn’t care about anything other than your comfort. It blew me away to a new level of respect for every single person who works for the NHS.
So this is my Thank You note to the NHS. Where I would now be without it, I have no idea. It’s impossible to put into words my gratitude. I sincerely hope it continues and we see another 70 years of the greatest health service in the world.