Nick Ingram: Negative stories about the NHS sell more newspapers
IT GOES with out saying that the coverage in the media of the NHS tends towards the negative.
Most of the stories we read are ones where something has gone wrong or awry, and this has the habit of leaving most people with the feeling that there is something rotten at the heart of the system.
Of course, from the point of view of the media negative stories about the NHS are a great boon. They tend to be the ones which sell more copy and generate the most debate, which in the end is what the media is designed to do.
When it comes down to the end equation editors are always on the hunt for a great headline. And tales of life and death, not only of people, but also of a huge, popular, national, organisation, normally fit into this bracket.
Then there are the stories we expect to be reported, such as the recent tragedy that is Stafford Hospital. These are stories that need to be told and reported. For it was obvious that there was something terribly wrong here both with the management and the clinical side.
Too many people died when they should have been given life. And this has to be the most objectionable part of the whole story. From a moral point of view the Stafford Hospital did live up to its duty of care, and this should never happen again. In the end standards have to be, and should always be maintained.
However in this short piece I want to take a more positive and more personal line. For in general I do not believe that the whole of the NHS is corrupt or bad. In my own recent experience I have found the staff in the NHS to be a group of the most dedicated, caring, hard working professional people that I have come across in a long, long time.
In fact I would go so far as to say that the staff of Burrator Ward at Derriford Hospital have given me a renewed faith in the ability of humanity to be kind, considerate, and compassionate.
Aspects of humanity which sometimes tend to be pushed under the radar in the face of other more nefarious aspects which humans sometimes have the habit of exhibiting.
You see, this time last week I suffered a series of mini strokes which took me by ambulance in to the A&E department where I was poked, prodded, and scanned. Then dispatched up stairs to the ward.
Normally I would have considered myself to have been a healthyish example of the human race. I only drink moderately. I have never smoked. I don't do drugs. I don't own a car, therefore I walk everywhere. I have never had a major illness in my life.
Yet here I was losing the ability to use my left arm and leg, while at the same time slurring my words. Losing the ability to control my own body, and looking back at those events of last week, I must say it was one of the most scary things which I have ever experienced.
In the long term I have found the whole experience humbling.
It makes me think of how precious this life really is. And how lucky it is to have good health. It also makes me realise how vulnerable we are when we have no control of our bodies. This is where the compassion of the nurses and the doctors are put to good use.
I'll admit this experience has left me with out my usual bombast. I think I have mellowed a little.
My mojo will at some point have to be rediscovered.
But the one thing I do know is that I have been lucky. The strokes which I had resolved themselves. I am even more modest when I consider the fact that this could have been far, far, worse.
In the end it makes me wonder if our priorities as humans are present and correct.
May be we have to look at another approach to life. Maybe even find a new way of living. Or even a new way of being. Life, though is there for living. And maybe we should grasp it while we can. Because we may wake up one morning and find that things have changed.
As for the NHS it is a organisation that exists beyond politics. It is a great foundation that we can all use and benefit from. The staff do not get paid enough for their time and dedication. They should be paid more than they do now for they are essential to our own and this countries well being.
It is an organisation which deserves our respect as well as our unfailing support.
We can only hope that our political class think that this is nothing more than the truth. For in the end there is a lot to be proud of for having an organisation such as the NHS as part of the infrastructure of this country.
On a final note I would personally like to thank all the staff on Burrator Ward at Derriford Hospital for all their help. Plymouth and this country needs more people like you.
Nominate your NHS hero - Page 16