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Thursday, 5 July 2018

Happy 70th Birthday, NHS - Thank You For Keeping Me Alive


Happy 70 Birthday, NHS.

Today we celebrate the NHS and all its successes and glory. An institution not only providing free healthcare for all, regardless of need or ability to pay, but one that is a national treasure. The NHS may currently being failed and starved of funding, and by no means is it perfect, but on this day we must celebrate the great and good of our NHS, past and present, and ensure we fight for it to have a future. There’s an image that floats round on Twitter saying “The NHS isn’t failing, it’s being failed” and I truly support this. With proper funding, reinstatement of the nurse’s bursary, better pay for staff, better support for and care of NHS professionals, and putting an end to it being used as a bargaining chip for political battles, our NHS will flourish and the current issues of the NHS will be resolved. 

As a young adult born in the NHS and dependent on it for minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, week by week, my survival hinges on the NHS for every living moment, and I’m proof of the successes of the NHS. I’ve benefitted from the NHS since before I was born. Antenatal care of my mum, then me being born into the NHS, and born with health problems, my need for the NHS continued. I managed to live a somewhat “normal” life until age 14 when my condition drastically worsened and I became seriously ill, and physically disabled. In the last decade, my survival has been completely dependent on the NHS and the care and treatments it provides, the medication it dispenses, the interventions and support it pays for, each and every day. I’m alive thanks to the NHS. Not just the day to day treatment, care, services, medications and interventions, on which my survival depends, but also emergency and intensive care that has got me through life-threatening complications, including 12 battles with sepsis. They’ve enabled me to survive even when the odds weren’t in my favour. I’m living proof of what is great and good about our NHS. I’ve been kept alive beyond my prognosis and repeatedly overcome poor odds, and had an incredible life and quality of life facilitated, thanks to the NHS. I wouldn’t be able to do the work I do, being a voice for patients, a patient leader, an advocate, a consultant, an activist, an ambassador, committee member, speaker, blogger/writer, and the rest, and I certainly wouldn’t have an MBE, without the NHS. I owe the NHS my existence but also this amazing life I lead. Not only that, but I’m not forced into financial ruin to afford my care, as I would in the US and other countries. I have my care free-at-the-point-of-use. Without it, I simply wouldn’t be here. 

The NHS Is a national treasure, a key part of our society. I think it’s one large aspect of what makes the U.K. so great. Our citizen’s healthcare is not dictated by and dependent on our ability to pay. We must fight for our NHS. The government are destroying our NHS, and the day they completely privatise it is as good as signing my death warrant. I’m uninsurable (I’m literally a living pre-existing condition with a body with no system unaffected), and even if I found insurance, I’d never be able to afford it. The day the NHS is dies, I die with it. We need to fight for the NHS to be here for another 70 years and beyond. With proper funding, bursaries, staff support, better pay and so on, the NHS can continue to be a front-runner. The NHS will keep going as long as it has people willing to fight for it. Our government needs to get its act together and rectify the issues. We can save the NHS. Please keep fighting. 

Today I appeared on Victoria Derbyshire to celebrate the NHS’ 70th Birthday, before heading to Westminster Abbey for the formal celebration. I was there as a patient whose life has been saved as well as enhanced by the NHS - not only has it kept me alive, but it’s given me the highest attainable quality of life, too. The ceremony at Westminster Abbey was fantastic, confirming the fantastic work of the NHS as well as the principles, actions and sentiments that underpin it. We heard from patients, NHS professionals, Jeremy Hunt (Minister for Health and Social Care), Simon Stevens and chaplains. We sang hymns and had short statements by chaplains of different faiths. We sang the national anthem at the end and then I was first to leave, so we walked the full length of the Abbey down the central aisle. Came out and the Abbey bells rang out for quite a long time. Incredible. A magical day. 

I am so privileged to have been invited to both Victoria Derbyshire and to Westminster Abbey. My story can be used to show the real benefit, power and life-saving, life-changing care provided by our finest institution, our beloved National Health Service. 

Was lovely to meet some NHS Youth Forum members, see Kath Evans (Head of Patient Experience at NHS England) and my friend Amy Frounks, meet some Twitter friends including Theresa Chin, founder of WeNurses, the CEO of the British Youth Council Jo Hobbs and lots of others (thanks for saying hi!), and have a great day, spending time with Amy afterwards taking Molly for a walk in St James’ Park. A great day was had. I will download the Victoria Derbyshire appearance off my Sky box and post it over the next few days. 


Thank You, NHS. Happy 70th Birthday. 














About Lucy Watts MBE


Lucy is a 24 year old young adult with a complex and life-limiting condition. Lucy writes, speaks, appears in videos and in the media, proof reads, reviews grant applications and other work for various charities, and works with numerous charities on a long-term basis. Lucy was appointed MBE in the 2016 New Years Honours for services to young people with disabilities, which she received at 22 years old. Lucy views her life as "glass always full" and appreciates all she has. Lucy has her Assistance Dog Molly, whom she trained with help from the charity Dog A.I.D. Lucy and Molly do all they can to raise awareness of Assistance Dogs and of the charity, Dog A.I.D.
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