Almost free at last, free at last. Thank God almighty, I’ll be free at last – er quite soon! Ok, forgive me for paraphrasing Dr King. I’m indulging myself as I’ve been in hospital for 48 hours. Sleeping on a tiny bed, with a plastic mattress in a bay with 4 other men. Three of whom snore their heads off, and the Stuart Sutcliffe of this merry band who appears to have whooping-cough or something, and has an even louder machine attached to him. This is not conducive to recovering from – admittedly routine and minor – surgery.
What is conducive to my recovery, though, are the terrific staff and facilities at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle. The local hospital trust has spent £304 million in one of the largest health projects in the country. It’s almost finished now and will include
- Brand new Trauma centre with Accident and Emergency
- Critical care facilities
- A Neuroscience centre
- Infectious diseases unit
- Diagnostic support facilities
- The Great North Children’s Hospital
- Northern Centre for Cancer Care
- Renal Services Centre
- Surgical Training Centre
All of these facilities will be world-class which is fantastic for the city, region and people who travel from all over the country for specialist treatment here.
These world-class facilities employ world-class staff. Caring, friendly, passionate staff, with superb training and brilliant attitudes. A lot of the doctors trained at the medical school in this hospital and chose to stay in the city. The nurses include people from all over the world who have settled here and add to the city’s culture and diversity. Apart from telling me that my laptop and dongle combo can affect machinery about the place, (which just sounds ridiculous, especially as there are two on the nurses’ station.) they’ve been a real delight. Keeping me comfortable and sharing a laugh with me. Telling me the backless gowns we’re made to wear are just for their entertainment. Turning a blind eye to the rubbish food that friends sneaked in. Seeing the man from the sixth bed in this bay through his last hours with care, consideration, and compassion.
All of which leads me to wonder just how much of this there would have been without a Labour government. How much of that £304 million would have been pumped into the trust? How many doctors and nurses would have been hired? Just what state would our National Health Service be in right now if we had not used our 24 hours to save it in 1997?