Celebrating 70 years of the NHS

Ruth Poole, our speciality director shares her thoughts

We all have memories of the NHS. Whether these are memories of happiness; bringing a new life in to the world or witnessing a sensational recovery; or those of sadness when we lose a loved one, on its 70th birthday, it’s important that we celebrate the vital role the National Health Service plays in in our lives every day.

Growing up, I always wanted to be a nurse and I started my career in healthcare when I was 16. I loved the idea of making people better and learned lots of valuable skills that I’ve carried with me throughout my whole career. Being a nurse taught me about the nature of working in a caring profession within a healthcare environment. It taught me resilience and positivity, and gave me the opportunity to meet new people every day and help make a difference to people’s lives. I made lifelong friends during this part of my career, friendships that blossomed from the common goal of wanting to inspire change and improve patient’s experiences.

Of course, my time working in the NHS was not always positive. No matter how much happiness I experienced, there was always a peppering of sadness that accompanied it. There are some poignant moments that I shared with families that stand out in particular. Sitting with and supporting a family as their three year old daughter’s ventilator was switched off… Giving the last dose of chemotherapy to a lady who had terminal cancer… These moments in time will stay with me forever, but no matter how sad or difficult a situation, NHS workers are always there to provide guidance, support and encouragement to patients and loved ones every day.

Even though I’ve worked for the NHS, I am still in awe of the care and support me and my family have received as service users of the NHS. We’ve seen first-hand the exceptional care that can be provided, and I will be forever grateful for the incredible clinicians I have had the pleasure of meeting. My mum’s life was saved by a triple heart bypass at the University Hospital Coventry and my youngest daughter receives high levels of support from surgeons, therapists, dietitians and nurse specialists on a regular basis. Throughout all of this, I have always felt supported and trusted in the professionals that held my families lives in their hands.

Over the last 70 years, the hard work, dedication and compassion of NHS staff and volunteers has grown. The service has evolved and been at the forefront of developing life-changing innovations and surgeries. And above all, it is there for us every day when the unexpected happens.  I think we can all agree, we would be lost without the NHS.