- Thu Jul 05, 2018 12:13 pm #547329
This from a friend on Facebook. I can't put it any better.
In March of 2010 my Grandma Celia was dying. She was moved from an NHS hospital that had tried everything to an NHS hospice for end of life care near Northfield. As I was leaving after visiting her one day I happened to mention to one of the staff that I was glad she had a big window in her room because she'd always liked to watch the birds in the garden.
When we went back the next day the staff had put two birdfeeders outside her bedroom window. Her face was gaunt and thin but I could recognise her instantly because Grandma had her smile again. After two weeks in there, on St Patrick's Day, my Grandma Celia laid down the burden of her years surrounded by her family and lifted by the birdsong she loved.
Nobody paid for the staff to put those birdfeeders there. They did it because they cared, they saw it as their job to care. You only have to speak to someone who works or has worked for the NHS - including both my parents - for five minutes to know how proud they are of working for the common good not for profit, how proud they are they never have to tell someone who is sick or hurt "Your money or your life".
Bevan never said the famous phrase that the NHS will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it - it's from a TV drama in the 90s - but it's stuck in people's minds because it is a truth. On the anniversary of its founding we must remember that the NHS is both the greatest cause and the greatest effect of civilisation in this country precisely because it is far more than a mere method of funding healthcare. It is a promise each person on our damp little rock makes to every other person on it that when you are sick or hurt, when you are broken and bleeding we will be there for you. And when your time comes to shake hands with the reaper we will not see you cross death's threshold alone.
That promise cannot be counted in pounds and pence. It is worth more than any coin or note or the numbers on a bankers screen. You cannot measure the NHS in money any more than you can measure what the Sheldon Unit did for my Grandma by the cost of two birdfeeders.
For that reason and that reason alone I will never lose my faith to fight for our National Health Service.
"The opportunity to serve our country. That is all we ask." John Smith, Leader of the Labour Party, 10 May 1994.