NHS70: Readers tell their amazing stories for anniversary

PUBLISHED: 08:26 05 July 2018 | UPDATED: 09:48 05 July 2018

The National Health Service was launched 70 years ago today.

The National Health Service was launched 70 years ago today.


Seventy years ago today the National Health Service was launched by then health minister Aneurin Bevan – delivering medical care free at point-of-need to all, regardless of wealth or status.

In the post-war era, hospitals, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, opticians and dentists were brought together under one umbrella for the first time to treat the sick, rehabilitate the injured, and ultimately save lives.

There have been countless world-firsts and triumphs, including transplants and the world’s first test tube baby, and NHS trusts in our area are celebrating the milestone with special events.

The East and North Herts NHS Trust – which includes Lister Hospital in Stevenage, and QEII in Welwyn Garden City – turned a fountain blue to mark the anniversary.

Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust have organised more than 250 balloons to be inflated during a party for Addenbrooke’s Hospital visitors, patients and staff at the main concourse today between 11am and 3pm.

The event has been made possible thanks to Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust and will include free cake, an opportunity for children to get their faces painted and entertainment from the hospital choir Campus Sound.

Some of our readers have shared their NHS stories.

The NHS was launched so healthcare would be available to all. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphotoThe NHS was launched so healthcare would be available to all. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

• Sass Pledger and family

Within three years, Sass Pledger, her daughter Georgiana and her father-in-law Tony were all struck down with different strains of meningitis.

Georgiana was a tiny baby when she became ill with a cough and cold that rapidly worsened. Sass drove her from her home in Litlington to the Lister Hospital in Stevenage.

The 10-week-old was diagnosed with enterovirus meningitis, and if one more hour had passed without treatment, Sass said things would have been “very different”.

She has praised the NHS for saving her daughter.

“The NHS is an establishment to be proud of,” she said.

Sass Pledger with her father-in-law Tony and daughter Georgiana.Sass Pledger with her father-in-law Tony and daughter Georgiana.

“Yes it is cracking under the pressure of not enough investment and too many patients, but what makes the difference are the staff – people whose role goes beyond ‘just a job’. Without them and their dedication, my beautiful daughter wouldn’t be alive today. Thank you simply does not seem enough.”

• Chris Inns

Chris Inns spent eight weeks at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, where he had more than 15 operations after his motorbike collided with a car in 2012.

The accident left Chris in a life-threatening condition. He suffered skull, neck and pelvis fractures as well as severe injuries to his arms and legs.

Paramedics from Stevenage’s Lister Hospital and Magpas Air Ambulance attended to Chris, before taking him to Addenbrooke’s.

Chris, who is a senior carer at Hand in Hands in Letchworth, said: “The NHS to me is absolutely fantastic, it’s the reason I’m alive.

Magpas Dr Simon Lewis and Chris InnsMagpas Dr Simon Lewis and Chris Inns

“Without a service like the NHS I wouldn’t be in this position. Having it free at the point of delivery is amazing.”

Chris’ accident initially left him with around 50 broken bones, no movement or sensation in his right arm, and he spent the first year of his recovery in a wheelchair.

He is now living independently, and helped raise a record donation for Magpas Air Ambulance earlier this year – even baking a cake which he presented to the charity’s Dr Simon Lewis.

• Louise Sach and Kayleigh Wakeling

Louise Sach underwent life-saving kidney transplant surgery last month after suffering with chronic kidney failure for 21 years.

She spent her childhood in and out of Great Ormond Street Hospital, where her condition was managed.

Left to right: Kayleigh Wakeling and Louise SachLeft to right: Kayleigh Wakeling and Louise Sach

However her health began to decline, and having a transplant was vital in order to save her life.

Kayleigh Wakeling from Baldock bravely offered to donate a kidney to stranger Louise, and they both underwent surgery at Guy’s Hospital.

Louise said: “I am so grateful that we have the NHS to provide security and safety to all of us at times of worry, desperation and panic.

“The support and treatment the NHS offers has not only helped get the best out of my health throughout my whole life, but ultimately it’s saved my life too.”

Louise and Kayleigh supported the London Bridges Walk on Sunday, raising money for Kidney Research UK.

• Rachel and Bethan Jackson

Rachel Jackson with her daughter Bethan. Picture: Rachel JacksonRachel Jackson with her daughter Bethan. Picture: Rachel Jackson

The parents of Bethan Jackson will be eternally grateful to the NHS for saving the life of their little girl.

Bethan was born with an inguinal hernia – which means it was in the groin – and was referred to a consultant, but suddenly fell ill just before she was 12 weeks old.

Rachel took Bethan to A&E at Lister Hospital and they were subsequently rushed by ambulance to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, to be seen by specialsits.

Rachel said: “The nurse who had treated her at Lister came with us and was brilliant at chatting and making everything seem perfectly normal and not a panic.”

Bethan had to undergo an emergency operation. Rachel said: “She improved every hour and we were sent home the next morning with her pretty much back to normal. The staff were amazing and saved her life, all within 24 hours.”

• Amy, Justin and Jude Parr

Amy Parr with son Jude, who received life-saving treatment at The Rosie Hospital in Cambridge.Amy Parr with son Jude, who received life-saving treatment at The Rosie Hospital in Cambridge.

Amy and Justin Parr’s son Jude began suffering breathing difficulties hours after he was born at the Rosie Hospital in Cambridge, and was transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit.

He had deadly sepsis and a was diagnosed as having a pneumothorax – a build-up of air which causes the lung on the affected side to collapse and be unable to inflate.

Jude received life-saving treatment by the medical team and thankfully recovered from his ordeal, and mum-of-five Amy went onto raise almost £1,400 for the Rosie NICU by taking on a skydive.

Amy, from Bassingbourn, said: “The NHS is an invaluable asset to our country. I can’t imagine how much more stressful the first few weeks of Jude’s life would have been if we’d had to worry about insurance or funding his life-saving treatment.

“We are so very lucky to have access to such an amazing healthcare service.”

• Emily Barbet

Emily Barbet with her husband Andy. Picture: Courtesy of Emily BarbetEmily Barbet with her husband Andy. Picture: Courtesy of Emily Barbet

When Emily Barbet began feeling numbness in her limbs when she was suffering from what she thought was a common cold early last year, she made an appointment to see her GP.

After being examined, Emily, who lives in Stevenage with her husband Andy, was immediately sent to the Acute Medical Unit at Lister Hospital, where she says she was seen by “an exceptional neurologist” who diagnosed her with transverse myelitis – an inflammation of both sides of one section of the spinal cord.

An MRI scan revealed she had multiple sclerosis.

Emily said: “This neurologist has kept me under his care and has always been on hand if I need to talk to him, even though I’m also under an MS specialist neurologist at The Royal Free Hospital in London as well. I also have a dedicated MS nurse who is there whenever I need them.

The care I received from the moment I walked into my GP to this day has been faultless.

“From the very beginning the NHS, and the Lister Hospital in particular, has been wonderful.”

For more on the 70th anniversary of the NHS go to www.nhs70.nhs.uk. You can also join the conversation on social media using #NHS70.

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