Written by Victoria King

In The News

Why I ♥ Our NHS

Victoria King has every reason to love the NHS and she firmly believes that we should all love it too. She tells Standard Issue why.

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How many of us have said: “I couldn’t live without my friends/my car/my phone” or even chocolate? Yet when I say I couldn’t live without the NHS, I really mean it. Due to a bowel condition called Crohn’s disease I am to the health service what Judith Chalmers and Alan Wicker were to holiday programmes. In short, I am an NHS frequent flyer so it should come as no surprise that I also have strong views about the service.

I don’t want to see it sold off, bit by bit, to the private sector. I speak from experience and from the heart, not from some politician’s sound bite crib sheet.

300px-NHS-Logo.svgOver the years NHS staff have supported me through multiple operations and countless investigations. More than that, they’ve made me feel safe and cared for. In fact I’d like to give them a Victoria Award. The medal would say: “for their valour and courage in helping me to combat my medical problems.”

I know some people have had negative experiences with our NHS but many more share my view. In a survey taken in December 2014, 95% of NHS inpatients said that they would recommend it.

I’m not saying that the system is perfect. There are multiple staffing and funding problems and the current disconnect between social and medical care needs to be addressed. But as far as I’m concerned these aren’t reasons to give up on the NHS: they are incentives to make it better.
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Mercifully the only thing that has ever dictated my care has been my health needs. NHS staff have never asked me about my salary, bank balance or credit rating, which is just as well – if my body were a car I’d have lost my no claims insurance bonus years ago.

Our grandparents and great-grandparents weren’t so lucky. Without free health care many of them didn’t live long enough to enjoy a ripe old age but they wanted more for us and, thanks to preventative medicine, health education and improved standards of care, we are living longer.

According to parliament.co.uk the UK already has ten million people over the age of 65 and this will increase to 19 million by 2020. We also have three million people over the age of 80 and this growing number of elderly people is yet another strain on NHS resources.

Compared with the generation that gave us the NHS we have very different lifestyles and demands. That’s why I feel it’s important that we support our NHS by using it wisely. What do I mean by that?

Give feedback, criticism and praise where it’s due.

Get involved in local patient groups.

Think before you access services: might a helpline or NHS webpage provide the advice you need? Do you really need to go to A&E, could a walk-in centre help or would it be best to see your GP? If you access all three for the same problem then it costs the NHS three times as much

Cancel appointments you can’t keep so they can be offered to someone else. According to NHS England 12 million GP appointments are missed each year, which costs the NHS around £162 million. In 2012/13 6.9 million outpatient appointments were missed at a cost of £108 each.

Last but not least, think of all women who risked their lives so we could have political influence and please vote in the upcoming election. And, when you do, please think about the future of the NHS.

Even more importantly, think about what it means to you. I already know what the NHS means to me: I’m still alive and able to spread this message.

Thank you NHS!

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Written by Victoria King

Victoria is working on her first book. She is also a flag-waving survivor of Crohn’s Disease. And she loves a Mr Whippy.