Friday 25 December 2015

This Just Has To Be Said

First of all this is not a transport related post, but I can't keep this to myself. I would ask you to read this, and next time you hear one of the seemingly endless negative stories about our NHS I'd ask you to remember this one too. If ever there was a heart warming Christmas story this is it.

Some of you already know that my father is making final preparations to set sail to a better world. After a recent heart attack his kidneys have packed up and we are just all waiting for the inevitible. So Christmas Day was spent at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, down in Kent, watching the man who has graced all our lives for so long get weaker and weaker. It could be hours, it could be days but it's going to happen.

For the last month his care has been incredible. Over the last 8 years he's been in a lot of hospitals thanks to two bouts of cancer and stroke, and the care he's received has been nothing but amazing. However this hospital is something else. Last night dad was finally moved from a bay ward to a private room to give him as much peace as possible for his remaining time. This morning just before we left to drive to the William Harvey I got a call from the hospital. It was Paul, one of the staff nurses on dad's ward explaining that dad's room was required by an emergency infectious patient, and as a result dad was going to be moved to another room, but on another ward where a different team would be caring for him. The guy sounded really cut up and dad had mentioned frequently what a good relationship he had struck up with the staff. Paul insisted that we saw him when we arrived and he would show us to the new room.

We had been there no more than a couple of hours in the new room - the new team were just as friendly and efficient as the others - when Paul came back saying the other patient hadn't been as bad as anticipated and they were able to offer dad his original room back. He was worried about the effectt of yet another move on dad, who was asleep at this point, but he said he and the other nurses on his ward had grown so fond of and attached to dad they were so upset when he had to move and "we would really like to see the job through".

Of course we were over the moon. When he woke up so was dad. When he was wheeled in his bed back onto the ward it was like a celebrity homecoming. All the nurses welcomed him back by name, beaming from ear to ear. These amazing, truly wonderful people want to make dad's remaining time as comfortable and stress free as possible. I don't know how many people come and go from that ward in a week but it's a fair few. Yet the personal care and yes love these people show is so, so much more than merely doing a job. They say Christmas is about peace, love and joy. This is a tragic and extremely tough time at the moment, but I saw more love producing peace in that hospital than I've seen anywhere before. And that, despite the desperately sad circumstances has given us joy in the knowledge that there is nowhere that dad could be receiving better care.

It also made me feel humble. These guys were working Christmas Day, most with silly hats on, yet the cheery and compassionate way they went about their business was inspirational. I'll remember this Christmas with a lot of sadness, but I'll remember the love shown by those nurses to my dad with a huge amount of gratitude, and pride that a man without an enemy in the world yet knowing his time is nearly up still had the charisma to endear himself to the nurses to such an extent. I'm not sure I've ever felt prouder of him.

This is one post I want to be copied and reproduced as I want as many people as possible to hear about today's events, and the next person I hear slagging off the NHS might just suddenly be in need of their services themselves.

Thanks for reading and normal services will be restored as soon as possible. I just wanted to share that with you.


  1. That's a brilliant post and please send my happy thoughts to your Dad. I have spent time in your position and have never had any bad experience and my hat goes off to those that work and care.

  2. I can also echo Tim's comments and, as you know Steve, I've also just gone through the same thing with my close family.These people really do not get the recognition they deserve. My sister in law spent her last weeks in a hospice and received a similar high standard of care.

    Stay strong Steve

  3. Thanks for sharing this Steve. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

    I too have nothing but praise for the NHS and can assure you that many Americans are envious of it. Yes, really. Whilst care here is top notch, it is extremely expensive and that's because it is not a "service", but an "industry". Please don't let health care in England go the same way.

    Much peace

    Mick, North Carolina

  4. Thanks everyone for your kind wishes. The wait goes on but I can't see it being that long now.

  5. It must have been hard for you to write that post. We are so lucky to have the NHS, we need to do whatever we can to support them.

    1. Thanks Chris. You are right and I'm already mulling over ideas to raise money for these amazing people so as many as possible can benefit from the oustanding, compassionate and dignified care my dad has received.

  6. Very well done soo heartwarming to read this

  7. You just made my Christmas, Steve. Whatever we believe, or not, you and your family and those looking after your father, are in our thoughts and prayers.

    My experience is that we have an NHS hospital to be proud of too, in Ipswich.

    1. Many thanks. Smurf. the wait goes on but it could be so much more traumatic.