God bless the NHS - Diary of a Sussex Newbie

I've visited not one, not two, three, four, but five hospital wards over the past two weeks.

The Admiral got poorly, very quickly, with a nasty infection. I cannot describe the sense of relief when the ambulance arrived.

And from that very first experience of the NHS in Sussex, right through to the numerous different nurses, care workers, porters, consultants, junior doctors, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, nursing support staff etc, I can honestly say each and every one of them has been exceptional.

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The ambulance team of three (including one trainee) was beyond fantastic; gentle yet decisive, and so respectful.

The skill it must take to walk into a situation and assess what’s going on within a matter of minutes is astonishing.

They were a crew based in Gatwick, and were therefore a little way from home.

It was coming to the end of their shift and you could see how tired they were, but they dealt with the Admiral as if he was the first patient of the day.

the A&E team at Worthing hospital were efficient, yet again, so kind.

Run off their feet and juggling room fulls of people who were clearly really unwell and in need of help.

Having not been on a hospital ward for many years, I’d forgotten how cocoon-like the whole experience is.

In this case each ward had six beds. No one knows why each other is there, but the chaps had an incredible sense of unity and camaraderie. One for all and all for one.

If the Admiral managed to get a cup of tea, by jove, the whole ward would get one too!

There was apparently a surplus of poorly gentlemen last week, and the women of West Sussex were in relative rude health, so one of the ladies wards had to be used for the chaps. Anarchy!

This caused rather a stir and the gents were delighted. One by one they were discharged, until there were two of them left and I could sense the bonds that had been formed during just a matter of days between them all.

The Admiral and his last remaining comrade were moved again, this time back to the mens ward. Order was restored.

And it struck me, that although life here is so very different to life in London, one thing which isn’t so very different, is the NHS.

Sure in a bustling major London hospital things are bound to be a little less personal, with larger wards.

But it’s the individual people who make the NHS, who give of themselves day in and day out, who hold it all together, despite the tremendous challenges: the A&E nurse whom I overheard say that she had been given a packet of sweets by a little boy with a broken arm whom she’d just treated – it was the first time in 12 years she’d ever been given anything by a patient and she was clearly emotional; the team of three cleaners whose role it was to go through wards daily, ensuring every single possible surface had been wiped down, who had a little challenge going on to see who would make it to their tea break first and always had a smile on their faces; the ward nurse who, despite having six poorly gentlemen to look after, must have noticed how worried (and tired) I was and took the time to bring over a chair for me to sit down on; the occupational therapist who collected the Admiral by wheelchair to whisk him off to their special kitchen to see if he could ‘possibly manage making a little bacon and eggs’ just to check he would be able to manage at home (I think they only got as far as an instant coffee, but the attention to detail and good humour was incredible).

It’s hundreds and thousands of individuals like these who take care of our friends and families, each and every day; whether you live in Inveness, Abergavenny, or here in West Sussex.

God bless the NHS, and each and every one of them.