To the NHS,
I hope this finds you well. I know you've had some bad press of late so I just wanted to see you how you're feeling and let you know that despite your troubles, I'm still your number one fan.
I'm writing this whilst sat in one of your wards. It's extraordinarily clean, one of your super human staff members has just been in to turn my dad and I can hear him being a cheeky sod to them, so I think he's on the mend.
We were reacquainted yesterday after my dad was brought to one of your hospitals via a dramatically called ambulance, after a low level infection turned into sepsis in a matter of hours. This incident is just one of a long history of dashes to the hospital that my poor Pops has to endure as part of his MS (Multiple Sclerosis) which is slowly having a go at destroying what's left of his working body parts.
We're now used to chats in side rooms with solemn doctors who tell my sister and I 'to prepare for the worst'. But every time he's an absolute trooper and his battle-weary body pulls through because of your staff: his own personal army, unleashing everything they possibly have in their armory to keep him alive. Our gratitude is immeasurable and every time I'm struck by how I wish I could say thank you to everyone. So, here goes:
To the paramedics who arrived within minutes of us calling you, I can't begin to explain how calm you made me feel. Thanks for taking control of an escalating situation and treating my dad like a human being from the off. Thanks for listening to me, and looking me in the eye, and when you asked if he had a wife and I said she had passed away, thanks for touching my arm and saying 'God you've been through the wringer, I hope you're OK', because you didn't need to do that. Thanks for letting me help you in the back of the ambulance so I didn't feel useless, and for repeatedly calling my dad a hero, and for coming back in to the family room to say goodbye and check I had a drink and some food. None of those things are in your job description but you did them anyway.
To the team of doctors and nurses who stabilised my dad in the Resus unit in A&E, thanks for working +12 hour night shifts to keep people like my dad alive and people like me reassured. Thanks for using your massive brains to help other people, even though your pay is quite frankly shocking and the conditions in which you work increasingly untenable. I'm surprised more of you haven't stuck your middle finger up and buggered off. I hope you know how appreciated you are. Thanks for answering my unending questions and when I got pushy and upset that we were still in the same position 10 hours later, thanks for continuing to be nice to me.
To the student nurse; thanks for bringing me a cup of tea and leaving the tea bag in because you didn't know how strong I take it (NOTE: this would only happen in a hospital in Yorkshire). And to the nurse who told me to go home and get some sleep after 12 hours: I only did it because I knew you'd make sure he got to his ward OK.
Thank you to the consultant who re-drew a neater version of a diagram of my dad's kidneys at 3.30am so I could take a picture and send it to my sister. And to the nurse in the ward who has been unrelentingly jolly today and sung 'THE ONLY WAY IS UP! BABY!' as she helped my dad sit up.
To your big boss, Theresa May, I would like to say this: I think we can all agree that this place we take for granted, our NHS, is beyond wonderful but also in a right, royal mess. My dad was in A&E for 13 HOURS because there were no beds in the wards with enough staff and not enough staff on the wards where there were empty beds.
He has been in and out of hospital for years, in which time he's had a varying level of care including terrible pressure sores from hospital stays and weeks waiting to be discharged. It's slowly gotten worse and it's just not good enough.
I can't even begin to imagine the scale of the problem you are faced with but I do understand that austerity cuts have led to a complete breakdown between health and social care, resulting in a nation of blocked beds. Rest assured Mrs May, this is most definitely a crisis.
Unlike those paramedics who went above and beyond for my family, surely fixing the NHS is part of your job description? Or are you happy for your lowly-paid, over worked workforce to continue to apologise, day after day, for a system that leaves poorly people, quite literally, with nowhere to go? These super-humans are propping up your system, day in, day out, and you're refusing to even acknowledge the problem.
I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt and hope that the reason you chose a career in politics is the same reason the vast majority of the people that work for the NHS chose theirs too: to make a positive difference to people who are struggling or unable to help themselves, regardless of their background, wealth or need. If you had just one of the qualities the doctors, nurses and paramedics I've thanked above display every single day, we'd be heading in the right direction.
Anyway, back to you, my NHS. I know you're snowed under at the moment so no need to write back, but rest assured, I'm behind you all the way.
Lots of love,
Gabrielle (your biggest fan)