Hello, and welcome to this week’s Friday Poem.
This week sees the National Health Service (NHS) reach its 70th Year. On 5th July 1948, the NHS was formed, and for the past 70 years has transformed healthcare in the United Kingdom. Here in the UK there has been, and will continue to be a huge amount of media coverage about the NHS. In fact, the NHS rarely seems to be out of the news these days. And I’m sure that those of my followers who live outside of the United Kingdom, would have some knowledge of the NHS – even if. it is just recognising those three letters.
If anyone is unaware of what the NHS is about, you can find out a bit by clicking HERE.
I actually work for the NHS – albeit in a non-medical role (they wouldn’t let me do brain surgery). I actually distribute those lovely hospital gowns that you get to wear when you go into the hospital, the ones that always show your backside off. The reason for this design fault is all down to a misunderstanding at the sole company that makes these gowns. Apparently, at a board meeting during the finance director’s sales forecast report, he commented that “the bottom’s gone out of surgical gowns”, and the director of design and manufacturing took him at his word.
That’s a joke of course. I do work for the NHS but in an administrative / support role. My Poetry writing is well-known throughout the organisation I work for, and I often compose a little verse or two and put it up in the kitchen at work for colleagues to read. So I was pleasantly surprised when I was asked to write a poem for my organisation: a poem about the NHS being 70 years old, and this is the Poem that I have made my Friday Poem this week.
The Poem you are about to read is the FULL version. I was asked to remove or amend some parts of this poem for my organisation, as it was felt that some bits were too “dark” or may be “too close to home” for some people. I don’t have a problem with that, but on my own blog page I want to share the full poem as it was originally written by me. It is not my intention to offend or to upset anyone.
There were many ways in which I could have written a poem about the NHS and what it has achieved in the past 70 years. But there was only one “theme” that felt right to me. It has become very apparent to me, that (in my individual opinion) there is far too much politics going on in the NHS at both National and local level which gets in the way of things, and that while the NHS is not perfect, what cannot be forgotten, and must not be forgotten is that for 70 years the NHS has opened its doors to everyone – without judgement, or prejudice, and has simply tried to help a never-ending stream of humanity, irrespective of who they are or how they came to be there.
And that is what my poem is about.
I hope you like it.
The NHS at 70
Seventy years ago, a simple ideal
Was brought to life, and was made real.
One place for care: care that was free
For every member of society.
And in the years since has not our nation
Enjoyed a healthcare transformation?
It’s not been easy – of that you are assured;
The doors were opened, and in we poured.
We come, relentless – like a flood
With broken limbs, or poisoned blood.
With injuries to body and mind –
Some cannot speak, some have gone blind.
The obvious injuries with blood and pain,
And the mental wounds that affect the brain.
We are people impaled upon a garden fence,
Or another failed suicide attempt.
We are self-harmers, or drug addicted;
We bear the wounds drink-drivers inflicted.
We bring you death, and bring new life.
We bring a husband, or a wife.
A son, a niece – a nephew too.
A brother, mother, me – or you.
Sisters, aunties, grandparents – all.
Those who jumped, and those who fall.
Those – who by chance – have injuries,
And those with wounds caused by stupidity.
We come to you with broken hips,
With septic piercings in our lips.
From birth, childcare and maternity
To when death takes an eternity.
You take it all without a word:
From the obscure to the absurd.
When we choke upon a piece of bread,
Or wedge a saucepan on our head.
When our botched attempts at DIY
Result in lost fingers, hands, or eyes.
With no responsibility for what we do,
We assume that we’ll be fixed by you.
The results of societies failures are we –
Plus, the best of our humanity.
When this life takes a downward trend,
We look to you, to help us mend.
Diseases we caught unawares,
Despite the fact we did not care
To listen to your good advice,
And had this same infection – twice.
When fire rages through our flats,
Or we get burnt by boiling fat.
Blood transfusions, or crush wounds:
Injuries caused by wooden spoons.
Panes of glass that we fall through,
Kidney transplants – Liver too.
Cancer treatment and chemotherapy;
Dementia that ruins lives so cruelly,
Organ failure, broken bones
Injuries caused by the telephone.
Allergies to wheat or nuts ,
Self-inflicted multiple cuts.
No matter what life puts us through,
We always have one constant – you.
You are – and always have been – there
Not one to judge; just help and care
With patience, kindness and sincerity
For all our glorious disparity.
For reward or plaudits you do not ask,
Just quietly get on with your task
And though ingratitude and threats
You continue to always do your best.
As a nation we do take you for granted
Yet hope you will not be supplanted.
Through the joy, and pain, and hurt and tears
You’ve been with us for Seventy Years.
And in those years have there not been
Such advancements in care and medicine?
But what is the same as way back then,
Is the fact that it is ordinary women and men
Who are the NHS at its heart
(although the buildings play a part).
It’s everyday folk, just like you and me
Who have borne this burden wonderfully.
No capes are worn: no pants outside,
But these superheroes give our nation pride.
Through lack of funding and winter pressures
The effort and love come in equal measure.
And no amount of words can really express
Just how grateful we are for our NHS.
Thank you to all the wonderful NHS staff who have done such an amazing job for the past 70 years, and continue to do so.
If you like this poem, you might be interested to know that my book, ‘The Friday Poems – Volume One’ is now available to buy. This book contains all the Friday poems posted on my blog in 2017. You can get it from Amazon.com, wherever you are – or if in the UK from Amazon.co.uk in paperback by clicking here: http://amzn.eu/2tOvhA6 , or for Kindle by clicking here: http://amzn.eu/hbDIMdU