Not long after 7am last Saturday morning, my grandma had a fall in her bathroom. Her home-help carer, who was visiting at the time, contacted my family who, in turn, called the NHS for support. She'd been suffering from, what we assumed to be, a chest infection for a day or so, was very weak and unsteady on her feet, and a doctor from the local hospital announced he would visit to assess next steps.
My Nanna is 96 years old. She lives at home and plods along with the help of twice-daily carer visits, my doting mum, and a healthy amount of booze.
The last 24 hours has seen headlines about NHS departments in "crisis" and warnings from the president of the British Medical Association that parts of our NHS are verging on "Third World medicine". Family members have become talking heads in the media demanding improvements, party politics has inevitably devolved into mudslinging and the statisticians are starting the New Year with a bang, eye-catching infographics galore.
By midday on Saturday, a doctor turned up at my grandma's house; two hours later she was on a hospital trolley in a busy A&E; 9 hours later, she was still there...
As you're sat waiting in the A&E overflow room, trollies crammed in like Tetris pieces, you see close-up the faces of people who need this situation to improve. They're not cursing the cuts that were made to social care. They're not thinking how good things were with the last lot. And they're certainly not wishing the immigrants would stop being such a burden. They just want to be seen and to be treated. As we embark on seventeen weeks of accusations, counter accusations and personal attacks in the lead up to the General Election, those patients want to know how our politicians propose to improve things.
Healthcare workers are an exceptional breed of human. Their tolerance and care, witnessed first-hand, is inspiring. One thing that has resonated through every news article I've seen is the dedication of NHS staff. Despite frustrations at their own ordeal, people accept the staff are doing their best in difficult circumstances. Most front-line medical staff care not for the political 'blame game'. They don't care if they're treating an elderly woman, a prisoner or a foreigner. They just seem to want the ability to do their jobs to the best they can. It's vital they don't become disillusioned through lack of support.
Sometime after 11pm, a bed on the ward was found. I've skirted around the sensory details of the day but it's something I wouldn't have wished on someone I care about. Our 96 year old is slowly recovering. They built them tough in those days. Our 7/11 experience is not unique and the over-capacity scenario seems to be replicated across the country.
Most front-line medical staff care not for the political 'blame game'. They don't care if they're treating an elderly woman, a prisoner or a foreigner. It's vital they don't become disillusioned through lack of support.
I'm not interested in "broken promises", what has been sold off to whom or how incredible it was before. All this negative rhetoric seems to be masking the fact no one knows what to do next. Looking forward, knowing what we know now, what are you, our democratic elect, going to do to improve things and how are you going to balance the books? This is what may sway my vote, not the aptitude of your press team to sling mud better than the opposition. Now is the time to tell us what you will do differently. Anyone...?