I was born almost exactly on the NHS’s 3rd birthday. The life I have been able to lead so far has therefore been a direct consequence of that circumstance.
Apart from helping bring me into the world, it has done so many other things. It vaccinated me against polio, diphtheria, MMR, shingles and Covid. It helped me through a couple of quite unpleasant illnesses in childhood – a bout of pneumonia and an otitis media (a swelling behind the ear drum which led to the drum itself bursting). It looked after my teeth, treated me for acute appendicitis while I was at college, dealt with various injuries I collected while playing sport, mended a broken arm (the result of a car crash), provided eye tests and two cataract operations as well as various treatments for the inevitable results of getting older – carrying out checks for bowel cancer, cholesterol, diabetes and blood pressure to name just a few.
It has helped my wife through two pregnancies and two hip replacements (the second only three weeks ago) which have been carried out with the minimum of fuss and inconvenience to us all. It’s helped my children come through their childhood and teenage years and enter the world as healthy young adults, ready and able to play a productive part in the country’s future.
Aneurin Bevan (the man responsible for seeing the NHS into existence) said, “I believe it will lift the shadow from millions of homes. It will keep very many people alive who might otherwise be dead. It will relieve suffering. It will produce higher standards for the medical profession. It will be a great contribution towards the wellbeing of the common people of Great Britain.”
I’m no-one special and none of my experiences makes me different in any way from millions like me. My treatment hasn’t depended on my parentage or my bank account. It’s been available and free at the point of use and I’ve been happy my taxes have not just helped me and my family but others too.
That is how it is and that is how it should be into the future. Happy birthday NHS and thank you.