Ode to the NHS

Published April 15, 2020

As we enter the fourth week of lockdown, or as I have dubbed it “A house pet’s dream,” I’m working on the name – please humour me. After experiencing, rather agonisingly, a beautiful sunny Easter combined with the sobering daily rising death toll, the extension of the lock-down and that the One show is still on every night where Eastenders got cut to two nights a week (yes, I’m still not over it), it is completely understandable that your/our resolve could start to weaver. (Side-note: my salted caramel Kit-Kat Easter egg was too salty – who would have figured). So fair to say it hasn’t been the best Easter weekend.

But enough of spouting on about such trivial matters such as a disappointing Easter Egg. I wanted to offer a glimmer of positivity in this unprecedented, scary situation. On Thursday at 8 pm, as a show of solidarity and comradery, the whole of the UK clap from their front doors for NHS staff and care workers who are risking their lives on a daily basis to defeat this virus – dubbed Clap for Carers.

This was the first time I can think of since the London 2012 Olympic games where the country felt united, working together to deliver the greatest Olympic games of all time and the worst logo of all time, simultaneously. It honestly moved me to see everyone, not just in the UK, but around the globe, compound this, with the shocking turn of events the week leading up to Easter weekend that saw Prime Minister Boris Johnson omitted to hospital and rather sobering, spending three nights in intensive care. Thankfully, Mr. Johnson seems to be on the slow but steady recovery, having been released from the hospital on Sunday. In his speech Johnson thanked NHS staff, saying “I owe them my life.” Strong words indeed.

This got me thinking…. Could we be seeing a landmark shift in our countries and quite frankly, the world’s attitude to the care sector improves for the better? After we beat this virus, I hope the vast majority of the public rally and lobby for higher paid jobs for NHS nurses/doctors as well as an increase of funding for carers and more recognition for the work they do. I for one hope so. Because I as well, owe my life to the NHS, something both Boris Johnson and I have in common (as well as a great head of hair!)

I also owe carers/PAs my life in many ways: to the obvious, ensuring I start the day in the best possible way with a shower every day (as I mentioned earlier, I don’t have a great head of hair for nothing) and they help me carry out my job as a sports coach to the best of my abilities, without that help it would be impossible. I have always thought there has been a great disparity in the work that a carer does to the amount they get paid. I think it’s vastly too low and this pandemic has rightfully shone a light on the fact that many care workers are forced to work even if they show symptoms for the virus. Otherwise, they risk having no income coming in. This is further exacerbated by the fact that many care workers work on zero-hours contracts meaning they could risk losing pay if they don’t turn up for work.

After the Second World War, the NHS was formed, now, over 60 years on the world is facing a similar crisis and it is my hope that after we have defeated this virus, we see a similar push from everyone across the country to revitalise the NHS and reform the care industry. Boris Johnson closed his speech by proclaiming that the NHS “Is the beating heart of this country” and that it is “powered by love.” I for one hope that when this is all said and done, he is true to his word.

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