LETTER: Best in the world

Very recently I spent a week in hospital having broken my hip falling off my bike.

Despite having worked in the NHS for 25 years this was a bit of an eye-opener. Seeing things from the other side of the fence can give a completely new perspective on things. I was very impressed.

The NHS really is fantastic. As an employee I am often disheartened by the frequent bad press that this extraordinary organisation receives. While it will never be perfect – what is? – it has to be the best value universal health care system in the world.

Many of the problems stem from ignorant and meddling politicians fuelling unrealistic consumerist expectations that can never be fulfilled with the resources allocated.

I received great care and am grateful to all those who were involved with it, from the surgeons who fixed my hip to the domestic staff who brought me my meals and cleaned my bed area. In spite of my background I was amazed at how many people became involved with the care of one patient: porters, radiographers, health care assistants, nurses, anaesthetists, operating department assistants, surgeons, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, pharmacists, cleaners.

I have been able to thank some of these people. However, there is also a group of people that I have not had the opportunity to thank – those who assisted me at the roadside.The good Samaritans.

I came off my bike on black ice at the bottom of Warrs Hill, between North Chailey and Scaynes Hill on the 12th of January. It was a beautiful though cold day and I couldn’t resist riding to work. I hit the tarmac with some force and slid, as if on an ice rink, before coming to rest at the grassy bank beside the road.

Very fortunately there had been no cars coming the other way. It was rapidly apparent to me that I had done something fairly serious as I could not get up to fetch my bike which was still in the middle of the road. Not much pain yet though.

I phoned my wife but the reception was poor and she couldn’t fully make out what I was saying. Then my first good Samaritan arrived in the form of someone called Cat who pulled up in her car and calmly took control of the situation. Thank you Cat.

She called an ambulance, called my wife and put a coat over me to keep some warmth in. The exact sequence of events from there is a tad hazy. The ambulance was delayed but fortunately a paramedic, Sheena, turned up and put an intravenous cannula in and gave me some pain relief. Thank you Sheena. My wife was now on the scene and held my head off the ground till a fireman, who lived nearby (I don’t know your name but thank you for your help), took over.

A policeman arrived and some other passers by – I’m afraid I don’t know who or how many as my movement was very restricted.

However, it seemed that every new arrival donated a coat to add to those already draped over me to keep me warm. I am very grateful to them all. Thank you.

Then the ambulance arrived and Paul and Jo, crew from Redhill, carefully loaded me into their ambulance and took to me to the County hospital in Brighton. Thank you.

Bad things may happen, but I am heartened by the kindness of strangers and the magnificence of our precious NHS.

Nick Parnell

Church Road, Newick