More on the Health Service

Recently I posted a piece on my experience of the health service that I originally used as a Thought for the Day on BBC Radio Ulster. It’s a strange thing, and a measure of the pressure people are under that half a dozen health service workers contacted me to thank me for speaking well of them.

By the grace and kindness of God and a quirk of genetics, I’m one of the healthiest people I know. In 20 years of working I’ve never missed a day of work through illness and the longest I’ve ever been in a hospital was to attend the births of my children.

More recently however, I’m beginning to adjust to the life of someone who has a condition – curable but serious, and I’ve been to hospitals on three occasions since November to have things done to me. But I’ve also had more reason than ever before to visit someone in hospital. From a position of never having been in a particular Belfast hospital, I’ve been there four times inside about 6 weeks. And just a few days ago my daughter popped her shoulder and had a short but intense stay in A&E in yet another hospital. Phew!

Two things have struck me. Leaving the Royal Hospital after one of the visits I walked in the front door and was overwhelmed by the busyness of the place. It was like Central Station after the Enterprise has arrived.

There are SO MANY sick people around, and I’ve never really noticed.

And though I’ve been a little frustrated by the lack of time given by some of the senior medical professionals, I now find it staggering that given the endless calls on their time and skill there are ever moments of grace and kindness offered. My friend speaks highly of the gentle care of the people who looked after her. And those who cared for my daughter in her pain and shock were wonderful.

0 thoughts on “More on the Health Service

  1. When my wife heard your Thought for the Day broadcast, I was instructed by her to get in touch and say thank you (she’s an oncologist at the cancer centre). I forgot to do so, and your post has reminded me to rectify this.

    Please add one to your half-dozen…

  2. Great post. I’m constantly amazed at the things we take for granted here! A little ‘big bad world’ education would perhaps help people to understand what they have here, don’t you think?

    Hope you’re keeping well!

  3. Time to comment further, since yesterday I was rushing off to cook the tea…

    My wife brings home the inevitable occasional tales of frustrated, scared patients treating any medical staff with hostility (and don’t misunderstand – the staff understand this), but these are by far in the minority.

    Regularly I get to hear of the scared, frustrated, tired and sore patients who treat the medical staff with the same grace, kindness and more.

    That is a special thing, as well, and should be recognised.

  4. Nice reminder Mark, that grace moves in both directions. Thank your wife for me.

    And yes…I would still put up with health free at the point of access rather than that which works (or doesn’t) in the USA, Marti. Even if there are some hard realities. What was the situation in CAnada?

  5. As a chaplain I see both sides of this quite frequently. But none so starkly as with one case this week. Neglected for almost a week (and I use the word neglected carefully) they took a turn for the worse suddenly yesterday and little hope was offered. Indeed the main concern of some was to try to absolve themselves of an sense of blame. But through the swift actions of other professionals of different disciplines, things slowly turned around… They were transferred to another hospital, still with little expectation of survival… but after a stable, but critical night they went through multiple procedures today, and tonight the patient’s family is breathing again, in the expectation that they will slowly be taken off life support tomorrow…
    I give thanks for the grace of God operating powerfully through those dedicated, courageous and compassionate professionals… And pray that the others will learn from this expensive lesson.

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