The irony has just hit me – I am the Health Minister for this website and have just spent the last three days in hospital with a health scare. Having hoped to avoid broadcasting my illness, I will refrain from advertising any specifics and suffice to say that I am better now than I was when I went in. The object of this article is not as self-serving as it may first appear, as I do not desire any form of sympathy or even acknowledgement of what I’ve been through, and merely find this an ample opportunity to express my feelings on the service I was provided. Having long said that the greatest element of our society is our universal health care service, the idea had naively passed me by that I would one day require it. Now that I am on the other side of that notion, I must say wholeheartedly that I am inclined more than ever to support the NHS.
I spent the majority of my time on the ward waiting in bed, hoping to be taken down for a scan or being administered a regular blood pressure test. Even giving a urine sample quickly became a highlight in an otherwise dull and debilitating experience. Hospitals do offer forms of entertainment, such as bedside televisions, and you are welcome to bring in personal items to keep yourself occupied. However, there are only so many times you can watch the same films over and over before you begin to wonder what’s taking so long.
That’s the worst part – the waiting. Wondering what’s going on. Hearing footsteps down the hall and hoping it is someone coming to give you some good news. It was during those hours of solitude that I began thinking that this whole endeavour could have been done within a couple of hours if I didn’t have to wait for others. At that moment, I finally saw the benefit of paying for health care. If you’re paying for a service, you’d expect to receive it on demand.
Of course, that is not always the case. When you’re in Tesco you have to wait in line to buy your shopping and waiting in the hospital to buy your tests would most likely not be any different. There are only so many staff around and a certain amount of operating areas, X-ray machines and other important inventory on hand. In which case, what about private? Sure, it would cost more, but you’d be in and out (hopefully) with your results in a lot less time than public hospitals. You’d get that personal touch and wouldn’t have to wait for anyone to go first.
Soon after I came to this conclusion and lamented the fact that I am not rich, the nurse came in to see how we were doing and conducted the regular set of tests to make sure we were alright. On her way through she chatted to the patient next to me politely and pointed out that I should be careful when I was out of bed, as I didn’t have any slippers with me. She had only seen me once before but remembered my name already. It was then that I realised I didn’t need money to pay for the personal touch. It was then that I realised I was being cared for by arguably the greatest health care system in the world and it didn’t matter that I had to wait around to get my results or watch Apollo 13 for the third time on my bedside TV. Maybe it seems silly that such a short and insignificant moment had such an effect but at that point in time I never felt more appreciative of my access to health care in this country.
Sure, a natural impatience lingered throughout the entire ordeal. When you know something is wrong you want to find out what it is, why it’s happening and what you can do about it as soon as possible. In the meantime, you must remember you are being treated by experts who are dedicated to their jobs and they haven’t forgotten about you, they just have the rest of the world on their shoulders too. Give them time to do their job and they’ll make sure they have the time for you.
Thank you, NHS.
Backbench Minister for Health