How the NHS has positively impacted my life


In these unprecedented times of COVID-19, there has never been a more important time to think about how the NHS has impacted upon my life. They have provided 40 years of support to me and the last 8 years have been more important than ever.

Ever since my parents found out I had Cerebral Palsy in 1981, the NHS has offered me treatment, physio and support whenever I have needed it. They have provided me with walking splints, physiotherapy, speech therapy and gait analysis when I was younger. Most of my childhood was taken up by visiting Alder Hey Children’s Hospital; seeing Dave (the Orthotist) for my splints. He altered them when they hurt, replaced them when I broke them and tried to make them look fun. Dave was so considerate and often saw me at the crack of dawn so I didn’t miss too much school!

I wasn’t a great fan of physio and I wasn’t the best patient either, but whoever I saw tried to make it fun for me. One amazing physiotherapist,  named Karen, particularly stands out. Karen was a ski instructor and took me skiing every week. This was to help to develop my balance and coordination, but it was didn’t feel like it! I have to be honest and say that skiing was the best part of physiotherapy. Looking back, I should have given the alternative physiotherapy sessions on offer a fairer effort than I did. I honestly did not appreciate the role the NHS would have on my life at that age.

When I moved to a different area, I was responsible for arranging all my own appointments and supplies, which was not easy. All the relevant departments needed to talk to each other one another; they needed to know what the other one was doing in regards to my treatment. I was the person who should have been telling them but even I didn’t know! After three years living in Cumbria, I moved to Lancashire, and once again I had to start the process all over again.

Since moving to Lancashire my view of the NHS has changed beyond belief.  Now I have such a supportive team around me. The NHS Centre where I go to get my splints has everything that I could possibly need. My rehabilitation consultant has bent over backwards to provide me with the best treatment possible available.  The Centre has also re-designed my splints making then much smaller than they were, allowing for them to fit into every type of shoe or boot. This is a far cry from the space boot-looking splint that I was once provided with and I never wore! Furthermore, they provide alternative treatments and support from nurses, physios, psychologists to personal trainers.

The Centre also has an equipped and adapted gym for their patients. It was set up to support injured army personal, but I am considerably lucky to be able to access this invaluable service. It gives me an opportunity to keep fit and do activities that I couldn’t do in a normal gym. But by far the biggest impact the NHS has had on me is on my mental health, being able to talk to people going through similar issues, but also being able to run.

Running has become a very important part of my weekly routine. It allows me to switch off from the rest of the world for that hour and feel normal. I am unable to run on typical treadmill and I struggle on the roads but the unit has an Alter G treadmill. Here, you are zipped into the treadmill and it has an anti-gravity system protecting your ankles, knees and hips and prevents you from falling over.  Having the use of this specialised treadmill has been a godsend to me.

So why is the NHS and its staff so important to me?  It provides the tools for me to live as independently as possible. The staff from the receptionists, technicians, nurses and consultants are a phone call away whenever I need. I don’t always say thank you but this is the time I need to say a massive thank you to each and everyone one of them.

I won’t ever be able to repay what the NHS has done for me. In a small way, I m now giving something back, by being involved in the safety and patient engagement groups in the North West.

Thank you, NHS and the Specialist Mobility Rehabilitation Centre, which is part of the Lancashire Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust