There’s a bit more of a personal feel to the blog this time around and my apologies if it’s a bit lengthier than usual. I actually meant to post this a couple of weeks back but you know what these unionists are like – they just won’t give you any peace. They’re at it again this morning with Alex Ferguson sticking his oar in. Must resist, must resist…
Anyway, the NHS have been very much in my mind recently owing to events that have transpired at Cybernat Towers this year and I read with interest a report on the BBC website about how the service has delivered its “best ever performance in key areas over the last 12 months” according to the NHS Scotland chief executive. Achievements include reductions in waiting times and superbug infections, and the chairman of BMA Scotland also waded in with praise for the hard-working NHS staff. Scanning the report it niggled me that something was missing before it finally dawned on me: no petty, point-scoring comments from any of the “we cannaes”. You know the sort of thing – “Whit aboot the time when auld Agnes slipped on the ice an’ had tae wait 2 minutes fir an ambulance cos Nicola Sturgeon wis on a tea-break?” Why no comments from them when the story is all about positivity? Strange.
However, fast-forward to a story in the Scotsman about there being fewer nurses employed in the NHS and the “we cannaes” are swarming all over it like <insert own metaphor here>. There’s something just a wee bit sick (see what I did there?) about folk desperately clamouring for bad news. “More cuts are inevitable,” says Jackie Baillie. Well if your lot hadn’t presided over one of the biggest economic calamities in history while your Tory brethren slash the cash wherever they can, what do you expect? They’re not actually inevitable in any case. We could maybe try something like independence where we fully control all our own resources.
I’m digressing a bit though and would like to detail my own experiences where to say that this household has had its money’s worth in the last few months is a bit of an understatement. After mucho nagging from my other half I agreed to go for a general health check-up at the start of the year - blood tests, ECG, that sort of thing – and was stunned when “we’ll have the ECG results back in about 7 days” became “can you come back in as soon as possible”! It turned out I have a birth defect in my ticker with a big wacky name that returns “causes of sudden death” as the first result when you Google it! So there’s been a few trips back and forth to Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary and Western General as they put me through more tests to find out how serious the condition is and what (if anything) they should do about it. The care and attention I’ve had lavished on me has been exemplary with various doctors taking as much time as I needed to patiently explain things and answer all my questions. The good news is I’m unlikely to be heading through the Pearly Gates this side of the referendum but will require some minor procedure.
This took up quite a bit of my attention meaning I just ignored the pain/stiffness in my wrist, thinking it was just a sprain from my gardening activities that was taking time to get better. What I didn’t know was that a form of osteoarthritis had chomped its way right through the joint. Eventually the pain got so bad that I had to head back to the doctor again. (Not the worst pain I’ve ever felt. That was when my good lady asked me to chop up some chillis for dinner. Right evil little sods they were too. I responded to her advice to go wash my hands after with, “It’s ok. I’m just going to the bathroom, I’ll be washing my hands anyway…” Big mistake, take it from me and don’t try it yourself. The slight tingling sensation preceded my horrified shriek of realisation of what was about to happen. Whatever you’ve gone through in your life – if you’ve simultaneously given birth while passing a kidney stone and suffering from unrequited love – believe me it doesn’t come anywhere close to nearly burning your own willie off.)
So back to hospital again for more tests, advice and a plan of what to do about my wrist joint which will happen within a more than acceptable timeframe. Much worse was to come though…
“I don’t like to worry you, but I can’t breathe and have pains in my chest,” said my better half early one morning.
“Okay, go back to sleep…”
Another visit to the doctor followed by a rapid trip to the Western resulted in an urgent admission where she spent a week being treated for blood clots on each lung, a condition that meant she was some 2 days away from her expiry date. Seemingly it was building up since an 8-hour bus trip to/from Cardiff for the fitba in October. Typical. Get beat 2-1, she gets a blood clot and I had to spend 90 minutes standing next to a manky tink with BO.
So what did we both think of her treatment? Nothing short of exceptional. Waited on hand and foot by staff who couldn’t do enough for her and the other 3 ladies in the room. One night she was cold and – believe it or not, Ms Baillie – she was given an extra blanket when she asked for one. Back in her native Ohio the cost of her week’s stay would likely have bankrupted us, but – I’m proud to say – cost was never an issue here. She needed it, she got it: care provided as it should be – paying due heed to the principles of the NHS. I can’t thank these wonderful people enough.
I was actually thinking of writing to comedy duo Lamont and Baillie to detail my experiences as I know they like to refer to individual cases at First Minister’s Questions. It’s not like I would’ve been asking them to falsify something that happened at a rape trial or produce some imaginary hospital infection figures for me. Maybe they would’ve invited me along and pointed me out in the public gallery? I’d have been happy to meet the FM and his Health Secretary afterwards to tell them exactly what I think of the NHS in Scotland.
By a bizarre coincidence I was on another site this morning when one of these adverts popped up – “Jump the NHS Queue – apply for your insurance quotation today”. Should receiving treatment ever be based on the ability to pay? Should a profit motive ever be behind caring for human beings no matter where in the social structure they’re perceived to be? I say – NEVER!
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