A Love Letter to the NHS on it's 70th Birthday
I couldn't let the 70th birthday of the NHS slide by without acknowledging everything it's done for me, despite massive shortfalls and times where things have generally gone tits up. 70 years of 'free at the point of use' healthcare is not to be sniffed at, and it's a privilege I do think many of us take for granted, because we've never known life another way. But free healthcare - a service keeping you alive because your problems are fixable and that's what you deserve to have without running the risk of going bankrupt - should never be a privilege. It should be a right. From cradle to grave, the welfare system and the NHS should be able to work in tandem to keep you safe and alive for as long as possible/as long as you want.
I cannot imagine, and this is just one example of how goddamned lucky we are in the UK, to have to make the choice as to whether or not I'm going to get a medical problem looked at based solely on whether or not I can afford it. Whether or not I have healthcare insurance. That to me is just madness. I make the decision on whether or not to get something medical looked at based on whether or not I can be bothered to make the phone call to the GP surgery and then traipse all the way there. I never even have to consider money.
And, to be perfectly frank, I wouldn't be here without the NHS. That elderly beast was there for me during the lowest points of my life. It was there at the beginning of my battle with depression at the age of 16, and it cradled me and gave me meds and gave me a referral to counselling. The fact that mental health services are so poorly underfunded did mean that I'd attempted suicide several times before I even got to see CAMHS, but the NHS was there to catch me when I finally ended up in hospital. The NHS came to my door when I pleaded for help with Childline, and it escorted me all the way into hospital to be checked over for any damage I might have done to myself. It gave me a bed in a ward when I needed to be supervised, and it gave me a 'tearful bed' in a teen psychiatric unit when I was still a danger to myself. The NHS looked after me, fed me, gave me group therapy and day trips and fed and watered me and gave me the best nurses in the entire world so my brain and body could heal and recover, with no added expense.
The NHS continued looking after me when I was discharged and back in college. The NHS allowed me to have the therapy I needed without worry. The NHS picked me back up and brushed me off during episodes of self harming. Time and time again I have gone back to the NHS when I have been in the midst of a mental health crisis, and although it's not always gotten it right, the NHS has always been there to do it's best to help me.
And I am still here.
I don't think I would be without the NHS. I would never be able to afford healthcare at the moment, not if I had to pay for it. I would not have had the therapy sessions I did, or been able to try different medications to stabilise my moods. The NHS might not always get it right. The NHS might quite often fuck up, have long waiting times and be awfully understaffed and give shit advice. But the NHS is still there, and it's still free at the point of use, and it will do it's best to keep you alive.
Thank you, NHS. Thank you for 70 years of service to this country, and to the rest of the UK. I really hope we don't forget why you were set up in the first place.