I have just come out of hospital. I was admitted on Monday afternoon, had a three hour operation under general anaesthetic on Tuesday morning and left at Wednesday lunchtime.
Had I not had the services of the NHS, I could very well be dead – many have died from haematomas that made it impossible for them to pass water. Many still will.
I live close to Guys and St Thomas’ , have the mobility and confidence to get myself to the right outpatients and the determination to be seen. I am very lucky indeed.
Our health service is no small thing
The last time I was in hospital was in 1982, I had a bruised kidney and urinary problems then (not connected).
In the intervening years I have always known that a free public utility was awaiting me , were anything to go wrong.
Of course things have gone wrong for many of my friends, many have been through the NHS emergency procedures and have been nursed back to health through NHS care. A few have died with dignity.
Our health service is no small thing, it is a treasure we have created for ourselves, something we share with those who are visitors to this country and a source of comfort to immigrants.
In my ward in beds beside me was a young Pakistani and an elderly Indian gentleman. We were looked after by students and nurses who’s origins were from Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Ireland and even the UK!
My consultant is of Sri Lankan extraction. Our great London teaching hospitals are an expression of our commonwealth, we share with the world.
The comfort of friendship
Much is made of social media as a destructive force, but little of its power to bring people together. On Wednesday morning, as I was preparing to leave, I was visited by a consultant knew of me only through the conversations I have had on twitter with doctors (AA and the Taper).
It was Twitter was meant to be for – and it was really good to meet you. https://t.co/UmHHHpPhEX
— Alastair Santhouse (@Dr_psychiatry) 3 July 2019
Thanks to all the people who picked up on my tweet about being ill. It made it a lot easier – took away worry and made me think about you and not me.
Thanks to my brothers Albert and Gregory, to my son Olly – who visited me. Thanks most to Stella my partner who is my rock.
We don’t know how lucky we are
The reason that life expectancy has increased in this country has been clear enough to me over the past three days. There is a system of care which starts with the NHS and extends through our family and friends to our wider social circles. We support each other.
We have all this because we are lucky enough to live in the first decades of the 21st century where technology brings us together.
My mother, who could not get up from Dorset, spoke to me as I came out of the operating theatre, she called on a hospital landline from her landline in Shaftesbury. I was able to tell her the good news that there was no tumour under the haematoma and that I most probably did not have cancer.
It may not have been the most conventional of modern day communications, but – thanks to some nurses who really did care – it happened when she was worrying most.
And that is the real point of this blog. There are people in our National Health Service who are dedicated to alleviating pain, giving comfort to the worried and getting patients back from the perils of physical and mental failure.
Alastair Santhouse, a psychiatrist physician, chose to visit a patient rather than have a coffee break, he is just one of the many people who I am thanking.
It is because of these great people, that we can do the things we do, in commerce, in the arts and in public life. Our whole society sits on a platform of confidence in our health built by the NHS and the people who work in it.
We don’t know how lucky we are.