Quality in the National Health Service


On Friday night my wife suffered what seemed to be a major heart attack. When she admitted she had experienced a pain in her leg for several hours during the day, the ambulance crew and I all thought she had suffered a thrombosis. She was cold and clammy so that electrode tags would not stick to her; it took ages the next day to clear up discarded tags and wrappings. Most of all, she was in intense pain and her blood-pressure dropped dangerously low.

We normally have no straight forward simple aspirin in the house. If this article does nothing else, let it alert you to the importance of aspirin, never mind all the proprietary brands of paracetamol painkillers that fill the supermarket shelves, stock aspirin in your cupboard. It was the aspirin the ambulance crew gave my wife which raised her blood-pressure, maybe it got her body out of the shock induced by the pain and saved her life.

We are very fortunate; we live five minutes’ drive away from Glenfield hospital, one of the best cardiology centres in the U.K. Within moments of our arrival the professor turned up. Despite having been called from his bed at home, after ordering an injection of morphine, it took him no time to stand down the operating theatre and conclude it was safe for him to go back Doctor aruba to bed. What then took his time was to assure the ambulance crew and me that my wife had not suffered a heart attack, blood tests the next day confirmed it. His preliminary “possible” diagnosis of the cause is almost certainly right, though out-patient appointments, tests, diagnosis and treatment yet have to confirm it.

What impressed me was not that the professor was good at his job, many people are that, but his easy, matter of fact manner and courtesy, when I thanked him and apologised that he was called out of bed in the middle of the night his reply was, “it’s what I’m paid for.”

That courtesy and care was shown throughout the hospital, then and the next day. There were never less than five people round my wife that night, you could feel their relief and relaxation when they realised she was no longer in danger. They cared and it showed.

It is worth remembering that, at Glenfield as throughout the U.K., that service is free of charge, no thought of cost, insurance or payment. It is still the crowning glory of the National Health Service.

Experience of N.H.S. hospitals is not always like that. The media will tell you, and I have seen it enough myself, there are dispirited nurses and doctors, delays, poor service and poor treatment, and the stress that brings these things about. Whether it is the good or stressed which predominate I am not competent to say, but the media will highlight individual cases which come to court or result in disciplinary proceedings, they will not highlight cases of individual excellence such as my wife’s treatment at Glenfield.


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