The NHS at the Countess of Chester (or fabulous people and process)

A member of my family suffered a mini-stroke today.

I phoned after an early dental appointment where I had four gel-like fillings carried out with no injections or pain whatsoever. It’s not that I don’t brush my teeth; I brush them far too vigorously. I must change, of course.

The procedure, brilliant in my mind, was carried out at the Kingsway dentist, and I was an NHS patient. I have never come out of a dentist feeling so positive, happy and supported by the attention I received.

The four fillings, plus the initial check-up and cleaning which took place on a separate day, cost a little more than fifty quid. It’s not an inconsiderable sum of money when you don’t have it, but neither is it so very much if you do.

I was very pleased.

As I walked down through the car park outside the Kingsway shops, I phoned the aforementioned member of my family to say I’d drop in and have a natter.

I won’t go into the details but it was soon clear something wasn’t quite right.

I phoned the doctors’ surgery, which initially programmed in a home visit. But I soon got a phonecall requesting us to go immediately to A&E at the Countess. This we did.

Again, what happened next I shan’t go into the detail of, but what I would like to say is that – without exception – every single member of staff we met at A&E, and then at stroke, and then the cardiovascular department itself, treated us not only in a professional way (which one might expect) but also with absolute integrity, humanity and compassion. We were not shunted in and out in minutes as the tabloid stereotypes would have us believe, but were, instead, looked after and made to feel valuable human beings.

Deserving of care; deserving of life; deserving of that going way beyond what was minimally necessary and professionally required.

So really, what I’d like to say – on behalf of my family member and myself, too – is:

We …

… you, Countess of Chester Hospital …

We …

… you, the NHS …

My family member is now back at home, in familiar, independence-encouraging and empowering surroundings; further tests will be carried out, of course; a heart monitor is currently in place; but most of all, good memories and a broader sense of being cared for, of being valued, will suffuse the being of this person with continued hope.

Age does not need to mean we are thrown away.

Age, and growing old, can be a graceful, dignified process.

We need to defend and protect what the NHS does for us all, on a daily basis. Not just because of the numbers; also, more importantly, because of us all, staff and patients – the humanity we are.


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