Angels & other animals
However cross we may get with an individual doctor or put out by an impatient nurse, the majority of us have only benefited from the founding of the NHS, that will be 70 years old this week. Of all government organisations this one is the only one that follows us continuously from the cradle to the grave. It will see most of us into the world and remain in contact long after most other government bureaucracies file us away in archives. Not even the tax office takes an interest before we start earning a living. The NHS by contrast is always there. There is a fair chance that a medical team will be the first thing a new-born will sense before being handed to its mother and the last that a patient ebbing out his days will lay eyes on.
No wonder the NHS has been described as the United Kingdom's nearest thing to a national religion. Popular imagination feeds into this narrative. Our doctors regularly' play God', our nurses are 'angels' and together with the latest medical technology they can and do 'perform miracles.' They inspire a devout following.
But there is another body that should be added to this holy trinity of skilful goodness. Personally, I hope that the role of the volunteer will be recognised during these 70th birthday celebrations.
Enchanted England regularly exhibits work at the League of Friends Café at the Queen Alexandra (QA) Hospital Portsmouth. It is such a pleasure to work with the dedicated and gentle volunteers who devote their time to raising money for the hospital. Their quiet kindness is the one thing that is not available on prescription but is given free of charge anyway.
So let's raise a glass not only to the employees of the NHS but to the unsung myriads of people who work tirelessly to ensure the right help is available at the right time to everyone who knocks on this magnificent institution's door.
Enchanted England will be at the League of Friends' Café - Q.A Hospital Ports from 1st July - 5th August . 20% of all sales will go to the charity.
Their caring café can be found on Floor B with lifts running from the main entrance.