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Ask yourself 'Is there anything I could do personally to improve the health service?'

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Mikey’s own experience of being a patient has helped him realise that as student nurses we can all play a part in changing the future of healthcare

Ask yourself 'Is there anything I could do personally to improve the health service?'

“I hate the health service in this country. I wish it was private so it would be better.”

“Nurses aren’t nice anymore, they don’t care.”

“Just look in the papers, it’s getting worse!”

I constantly hear phrases like this being thrown about, not only among the general public, but said by those working in the NHS too. And it doesn’t seem to be changing.

I have worked in the health service for four years, as a student nurse but mainly as a healthcare assistant for multiple trusts. I have seen the difficulties that arise from working for a healthcare system that provides free (yes, free!) healthcare at the first point of care, and at times I have been unable to complete tasks to my satisfaction due to issues such as short staffing and lack of resources.

But I still maintain and wholeheartedly believe that the NHS is the best healthcare system in the world.

“You deserve to be treated, because you’re a human being.”

If you were anywhere else and you fell victim to gun or knife crime, you would probably need to sign multiple forms and papers before you received any form of treatment in the emergency room.

Not in the NHS.

Here, you deserve to be treated, because you’re a human being.

In many countries you will be denied the right to receive care if you have no medical insurance.

Do not misunderstand me, I would be the first to admit the NHS has some major teething problems that need attention. Like many things derived in the public sector, improvements could be made.

But instead of complaining about staff shortages and chastising the health secretary, I constantly find myself asking, “what can WE, as student nurses, do to help this?” Student nurses are the future of the NHS, ultimately, WE decide what the future of the NHS will be.

Working as a nurse in the UK can be compared to working for the special air service (SAS) regiment in the army, the most elite and feared unit in the world.

“Nurses need to be brave and stand up to be counted”

You can expect to be overworked, under staffed, having to use the very basic equipment available daily, have severe lack of resources and regularly be pushed to your absolute limits in terms of emotional and physical stress and fatigue. Oh, don’t forget saving lives too!

Like the SAS, nurses need to be brave and stand up to be counted. Poor practice, staff shortages and many other discrepancies that are prevalent in the NHS today need not be there forever, unless we let them be.

A few years back, I suffered a severe brain injury that left me in a coma and on death’s door.

When I came out of hospital there were lots of people there for me, family, friends etc offering their support and doing a great job of looking after me.

Two and a half years on I am still struggling, maybe in different ways, but the concern and attention from people has completely dissipated.

“I also think we are one of the worse [healthcare systems] in the world for long term and inpatient care”

My mother in law told me that human beings as a rule are great in an emergency situation and will be there for you when it counts in the early days, but then they will eventually forget and move on with their lives. How right she was.

This is a perfect example and one that I often use as a metaphor for working in the NHS. I certainly do believe that the NHS is the best healthcare system in the world when it comes to first point and emergency care, undoubtedly. They even saved my life as a patient. I love the NHS and I am so grateful for it, both as a patient and a worker.

Conversely, after years of being part of this wonderful system we have that makes me proud to be British and go to work every day, I also think we are one of the worse in the world for long term and inpatient care.

Whatever the reason for this may be; lack of finance, attention from politicians, staff, negative media coverage etc, we as students need to get on with doing our bit.

So next time you are in the sluice having an “NHS moan” with another tired and overworked colleague, you have excrement on your shoe and blood on your uniform, remember that student nurses are the future of this health system and then ask yourself, “Is there anything I can do differently here?”


“The worse phrase that has ever existed for humankind is “let’s do it how we did it yesterday”

- Unknown

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