UK: We owe our NHS a debt of gratitude that I fear we can never repay

I’m taking a brief break from the regular autism, addiction, and mental health topics to write about something that I think is extremely important here in my country.

I’ve just finished watching the BBC workplace drama Casualty. Casualty is set in Holby City hospital’s emergency department, and rarely avoids the difficult conversations.

This week, the episode centred around the realities of working in a hospital during this pandemic. It was extremely eye opening, and reduced me to tears on at least three occasions.

It told a truth that I have done my best not to think about, but right now I need to say it.

The staff from our NHS have been on the front lines of a war, more immeasurably complex and dangerous than anything that had come before it.

Every day, they take their life in their hands, and walk through the door to help keep people like you and I alive. They do this despite being paid so poorly that many of them frequent food banks. They do this despite having inappropriate or out of date PPE. They do this despite the very real risk to their own life and wellbeing.

Doctors, nurses, health care assistants. Even the porters and receptionists. The scientists working in the immunological testing labs (hat tip to my little sister who is working in a covid testing lab in a hospital in the midlands). All of these people are willing to sacrifice themselves in order to keep us happy, healthy, and alive.

They have sacrificed their physical and mental health just to keep us safe.

Despite this sacrifice, our government still doesn’t pay the staff fair wages. Staff that have kept this NHS running through a pandemic despite the fact that it was on its knees before this even started.

The clapping was a lovely gesture, but what did it really change? After all this is over, I hope that we can recognise the impossibly high value that the NHS has. I hope that we can campaign together to make sure that the staff are properly compensated for the risk they have taken.

Dear NHS staff, thank you so much for your hard work during such awful times. We will never forget the sacrifices you have made, and we will honour your fallen comrades, who laid down their lives in service of the greater good.

From the bottom of my heart. Thank you NHS.

Published by David Gray-Hammond

David Gray-Hammond is an autistic mental health and addiction advocate living in the South East of England. He is in recovery from addiction and psychosis, as well as other complex mental health conditions. He was diagnosed as autistic seven months after achieving sobriety, and is resolved to share his experiences with the world in the hopes of being the person that he needed when he was younger.

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