What The NHS Means To Me.

5 Nov

On Monday 4th November 2013, after a five month wait, I finally had my first Actemra infusion for Rheumatoid Arthritis.  I do not often share my inner most thoughts about me, but, I was so scared and anxious the night before that infusion,  about what would happen, how would I react to it, the kind of questions you ask before anything we have around our treatment or surgery.

This year the R.A. has hit me hard, and despite the disabilities carried on campaigning, fighting horrendous pain that has reduced me to tears, sent the Depression to hit me on top, and yes, I have comtemplated taking my life, because I did not want to live in this chronic excruiating pain anymore.  I know only too well what that blackness of depression feels like, how disabling it is, how powerless it can make us feel, and at times, how feeling when at the bottom of that pit it feels like no one gives a damn, its how the Depression makes us feel.

This year, I have seen the consultants come and go,  seen a rheumatology nurse for the first time, and needed mobility aids as the disease has progressed.  Used an electric mobility scooter for the first time,  that was hairy that first ride of me on a scooter, got banned out of a shop because they worried I would hit their display cabinet, (took my custom elsewhere) and slapped in a complaint, and been the victim of hate crime, out in the community and on line, which has affected me in many ways.

On 3rd November a friend of mine went to a TUC conference at congress house in London, and while chatting to me on the phone, told me that the NHS is now 80 per cent privatised.  Scary that isn’t it?  Its damn frightening.

I looked around on the ward I was on yesterday, and kept looking at the bag of medication attached to me thinking how much this trip to hospital was costing, how much the medication was, (it costs thousands) and how if I had to have private medical insurance I would not get cover for the trip to hospital, or be allowed this medication that I so desperately needed.

I can’t get medical coverage now. Why, well if you tot up the pre exisiting medical conditions, the fact I have been genetically tested, which i have for BRAC1 and BRAC 2 cancer genes and had genetic testing for a faulty auto immune genes; there is a long list of herediatry conditions in the family, heart problems, diabetes type 1, Cancer, blood pressure problems, and the auto immune disease list every member of my family has been affected in this way, the youngest member my niece who is 6 has type 1 diabetes and the poor mite has been very ill with it at times as well.  Add all this up and I am high risk, they tell me.  I can’t even get life insurance cover.  Why? well, because of all the above, and, had cancer a few times myself and am battling a tumour right now on top, so they tell me could not afford the monthly premeiums  and no one would touch me I was told.

I wonder how many more out there would be in the same boat?  Hundreds of thousands, probably much more than that.

You imagine, you had a heart attack. The first thing the ambulance crew ask, have you got insurance, can we see your card?  The first thing they would ask before any treatment happened.  If you did not have insurance you would be turned away.  I can see it coming.  My uncle, who lives in the U.S. had this happen to him.  He needed quadruple heart by pass surgery in the end and the papers he was signing as he was on his way to theatre, pre medicated,  and feeling horrendous, telling him he was not covered for this and that, and too ill to take it in, and hit with horrendous bills that he is still paying for to this day.  That is what is what is sneaking in this country, we now have at head of NHS England, Mr Simon Stevens, who was president of United Healthcare, and United Healthcare already operate many of the supply contracts to the NHS, with equipment and such, and not very successfully, hence the NHS has cut back on a lot of equipment in many ways because they simply cannot afford the prices these private companies are stinging the NHS for, and thus patients feel the impact of not getting the equipment they need, or simply not getting the treatment they desperately need, or it being rationed which is happening in some trusts like Staffordshire with steroid injections for one.

I was at my GP surgery the other day, and the put a notice up on a wall, saying that emergency appointments are just that emergency and asking people not to see a GP for a routine problem for am emergency appointment and in OCTOBER 2013, in my surgery 984 PEOPLE used the emergency appointments for routine problems.  What about the people who are real emergencies who cannot get an appointment then?  My Grandad was one of those last year before he died and he ended up in A and E because a GP could not see him.  The wait to see a GP, four weeks in some places, and GP’s have a few days a week, have Clincial Comissioning Groups meetings to attend as well, ( I wrote a blog about CCG’S earlier this year and what they are about).

I have stood out there with my placards, about the NHS, led the Lewisham Hospital NHS save our A and E campaign march with 15,000 people out there in November 2012, which I was proud to do, stood there in the mud and listened to Louise Irvine and Heidi Alexander MP in January 2013,  wore my save the Lewisham Hospital Badge, went to meetings, and seen first hand how the cuts are impacting on hospital and have to say primary services like GP’s as well, and never thought I would see the day in my area when 10 GP’s resigned over clinical comissioning groups, but since April 2013 that is what happened in Bromley.

I was in Manchester on 29th September 2013, and watched with amazement and pride the 65,000 people who like me, vented their anger at the Conservative conference venue outside at how the cuts were hurting them, and how much the NHS means to them.  For those 65,000 people out there that day, it was everything to them.  The stories of life saving treatment, the stories of their relatives who would not have been there if it was not for the dedicated staff who go above and beyond to save a life and to help that person live as well as they can do in the community, the stories would warm milliions of hearts, but not Jeremy Hunt and David Cameron’s.  They want the NHS not to exist, they want privatisation, because its about money, profits, and what profits they make from it.  What about the patients David Cameron?  The families who care for that ill relative, the dr’s and nurses who should have the equipment and the support to do the job?

A lot of the time when campaigning I have been in agonising pain, but I owe the NHS.  I owe them my life,  I owe them for saving my life when I was 18, teaching me to walk properly when I was 9 and had a year’s hydrotherapy, I owe them for my dad’s life for the amazing treatment and heart surgery he had two years ago, that without it I would be mourning my dad today.  For the care I had yesterday when i was scared in hospital, for the infusion treatments I have now started.

How often do we say thank you to the GP, the nurse, the doctor?  When you next see the nurse, that dr or even your GP  tell them thank you.  Think of the horrendous pressure they are all under, they want to help as many as they can get the help that they need so that the patient can go and have a long and productive life or make the patient as comfortable and cared for as they come to the of their lives.

I know the NHS is not perfect, I have had bad times in the NHS, and yes I have, rude doctors, and nurses, bodged ops, lost paperwork, communication problems, but, the good for me, outweighed the bad.  I am still glad the NHS is still there for me when I need it, and I thankful for the NHS for many things, for the dedication of their staff, to the miracles that happen, and a life is saved, which would not have been if not for the NHS, but spare a thought on this.  For all those people who go to A and E where it is not a blue emergency, (heart attacks, severe breathing problems for example.)  Think.  Could you go to urgent care, or out of hours GP, or see GP at next appointment, going to A and E because you have a cold is not the way to treat the NHS or a splinter in your hand is it.  But people do exactly that, and how many people have gone to the GP and used a emergency appointment that could have waited, or phoned an ambulance when it was not necessary, thus that ambulance when needed for a emergency could not get to the patient who needed it?  These are things that people need to help the NHS on, because it costs the NHS millions by not using the services for what they are designed for, A and E are for emergencies am ambulance is for emergencies and GP emergency appointments are just that, emergencies where you need to see a GP there because you are seriously ill.

Last week, many of you said well done over the Judicial Review appeal on Lewisham Hospital.  All i did was go along to a few protests, Helmut, Louise, and the campaigners at Lewisham deserve the well done’s not I.  But what you are not looking at, and what I tried to explain last week, was the bigger picture, a bigger picture that is sadly in place now.  You see, Lewisham Hospital merged with Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich, this hospital was built with PFI money (Barclays Bank Plc) own the PFI contact on the two hospitals the other being the PRUH in Farnborough.  Some of the workers were in favour of that merger.  Why?  That debt has now transferred to Lewisham.  They will be paying for a hospital they now have to trek to use as Queen Elizabeth has an A and E department.  That part of the TSA administration recommendations was a third of Lewisham hospital assets to be sold off to pay towards the PFI debt, hence the campaign in the first place, but now Lewisham have merged with Queen Elizabeth, over the next five years, they will see the services stripped back, and Hunt will waltz through the back door and downgrade the  A and E like what was done with Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup in 2010.  Queen Mary’s now has been handed over to Oxleas NHS Foundation trust who are now in the process of selling off some of the land for housing, demolishing buildings and thinking of building a new psychiatric in patient unit for Bexley, Bromley, Greenwich, and I bet Lewisham residents as well, and simply put for four boroughs and the beds well you do the maths, mental health funding has been slashed, and as the director of the mental health trust said in December 2012 in Bromley, and I was there when he said it, build a new buiding at Queen Mary’s and services in the community and jobs will go to pay for it.  Now see the picture?

On 1st October 2013, Jeremy Hunt dissolved my trust, and south London NHS trust was no more.  My hospital was taken over by Kings Foundation NHS trust, and enduring a lot of changes at the moment, but spare a thought for this,  Hunt when he dissolved that trust the one I use all the time and need treatment from added another £200M to the PFI debt, and the debt now stands for the trust now stands at  £466m.  I read in the evening standard then, that Mr Hunt, will only pay £136m to the PFI debt, that the cuts to services, jobs, and hospitals would go ahead and this, that £185M has to come out of the GP patient care budgets in south east London to pay towards the debt, and how many patients in the area will be told no can’t have that treatment on the NHS there is no money, but if you want to pay private how does 11 am on 15 of the month suit can you fit it in?

I can see it coming private health insurance.  When I was on the ward yesterday, I could see Richard Branson knocking on that door, and heaven help us when he does.  Because it will not be the service that I had on that ward yesterday, which was outstanding by the way, and the nurses and doctors were fantastic.

You know what really moved me about yesterday as well?  That when they heard I campaigned for the NHS to save services and jobs one of the nurses with tears in her eyes came up to me and thanked me for saving her job.  In return I thanked her for the amazing care she gave me, and I had tears in my eyes, because with those infusions I hope i can slow the disease that is called R.A down and have more of a life, and that is the biggest thank you to the staff of all.  She helped me, I helped her and that is how it should be.

I only hope now I have more strength in the days the weeks and months to come, so that I can continue to fight for the NHS, because it means everything, and I want my nephew and nieces in the future to be able to access the NHS as well, that is the principle reason I fight for the future generations to be able to access this amazing service too, and not read about it in the foot note of a history book.

When you next see a dr, a simple thank you can mean so much, it can help keep them going as they are facing job uncertainties, the closure of their hospitals, and worrying how to treat as many people as possible who need the treatment and support of the NHS.

I owe the NHS so much.  What does the NHS mean to me?  More than this blog will ever express, and I want to say thank you to all the staff, drs, and all involved in the NHS for keeping me going everyday, Thank you.

Good luck

Protestor Poet. xx

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