The NHS saved by baby’s life now it’s my turn to help them
5th December 2018

SARAH VINE: The NHS saved by baby’s life now it’s my turn to help them

Sarah Vine: ‘What keeps the NHS going isn’t money. It’s people — the amazing, astonishing, dedicated individuals who really make it what it is.’

What keeps the NHS going isn’t money. It’s people — the amazing, astonishing, dedicated individuals who really make it what it is.

Men like the wise doctor, now retired, who saved my infant son’s life by diagnosing a rare condition that others had missed. 

Like the team who operated on his brain to drain an abscess, and the nurses and hospital staff who looked after us both in the aftermath.

Or the ambulance crew who came to fetch me when I slipped on ice and smashed my arm, and the surgeon who pinned it back together. 

And my own dear GP, a woman who recognised a leaky appendix and packed me off to hospital — and the young anaesthetist who came running after me in the hospital car park when I tried to check myself out, convinced as I was (under sedation) that there was nothing wrong.

And perhaps most of all the team at Queen Charlotte’s Hospital in West London who saved my life and that of my daughter with an emergency C-section, kind and caring, and frankly magnificent under huge pressure.

Each one, yes, ‘just doing their job’ but also extraordinary in their professionalism and bravery.

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It seems unthinkable that anyone could take such individual acts of heroism — and thousands more like them — for granted. Yet many of us do. We are so used to having the NHS in our lives, we often don’t know any better.

After all, none of these people ever asks for thanks. No one ever presents you with a bill. (I’d be bankrupt if I’d had to pay for even a fraction of the care I’ve received over the years.)

It is because of the supreme generosity of the NHS that not everyone values it for the extraordinary service it is. 

Yes, we all pay for it via our taxes. But what we get in return is worth far more than money can ever buy.

Sarah Vine: ‘And perhaps most of all the team at Queen Charlotte’s Hospital in West London (pictured) who saved my life and that of my daughter with an emergency C-section, kind and caring, and frankly magnificent under huge pressure.’

And that is why the Mail’s campaign to muster public support for the 1.5 million people who make up the staff of the NHS in the UK today, by encouraging ordinary people to volunteer their time, is so important.

It is our way of showing that we appreciate the people as well as the organisation; of returning, with a few hours of our time, the endless gift they give us. It’s about showing we understand that, while our healthcare may be free, it is far from worthless.

Time and again, the NHS has saved my family just as I’ve no doubt it has saved yours. And now the NHS itself needs help.

Population numbers and life expectancy have grown steadily over the years and that, coupled with medical advances, means medical trusts have to manage rising patient expectations while resources are becoming ever scarcer.

But it’s not just a question of more money. We spend ten times as much on the NHS than we did 60 years ago; 30p of every £1 spent by the Government goes on health.

With NHS staff stretched to their limits, I want to do what little I can to assist. 

I can’t mend broken bones or perform heart surgery but if what few skills I can offer help in any way to take the pressure off, I will have made a small contribution towards repaying the immense debt I owe this wonderful institution.

The NHS is not just the responsibility of government; it’s the responsibility of us all. It deserves our respect, appreciation and help. Because, believe you me, you wouldn’t want to be without it.

An independent girls’ school in Oxfordshire has asked its parents to ‘restrict’ spending on teachers’ presents to £50. Restrict? No wonder private education has become the preserve of the super-rich if that is what’s considered the going rate.

Should we call him Brexit? Maybe not

He’s a Griffon Bruxellois — a Brussels Griffon. Oops.

We have a new puppy. I know, I know: madness, especially when you consider we already have two dogs and a cat.

In my defence, he’s a rescue mutt. And I’m a sucker for a sob story. One moment I was chatting to a friend who works with animals, the next I was in receipt of a small bundle of fur that had been rejected by its owner.

He’s a hilarious-looking thing, a bit like a cross between a spider monkey and a Gremlin. The previous owner had bought him expecting him to be a nice, easy handbag dog (newsflash: there is no such thing) and was astonished when he seemed to have no off switch. Honestly, some people.

Still, he’s settling in nicely. There’s just one small problem. It took my son, of course, to see this. As he put it: ‘That’s a bit stupid of you, Mum, given Dad’s whole thing with Brexit.’

Only then did it click. He’s a Griffon Bruxellois — a Brussels Griffon. Oops.

Animosity between Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex are unsurprising

I, for one, am not surprised at reports of animosity between the Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex. Kate has been top dog for years, and had to work hard to get there.

It’s only natural she should want to assert her dominance. As I know from experience (see above), when you are introducing a cute new addition to the pack (and Meghan is very cute), you must be careful not to put the alpha dog’s nose out of joint by fawning over the puppy constantly, or the former may decide to teach it a sharp lesson.

Humans are not so very different. As an accomplished dogswoman, hopefully the Queen understands this and will ensure there is an extra-special treat for Kate under the tree this Christmas.

Can the High Street hit back?

Chief Executive of the Sports Direct Group Mike Ashley giving evidence before the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee

The founder of Sports Direct, Mike Ashley, is absolutely correct when he says ‘you have to tax the internet for the good of the High Street’.

If we are to have any chance of preserving jobs and shops, we must level the playing field that is stacked ludicrously in favour of online retailers.

But it’s not just that. If retailers want to get us off our laptops and through the door, they need to create a unique experience — a kind of slow shopping movement, if you like — that is as pleasurable as it is practical. Offering home delivery for goods purchased in store, for example, so you don’t have to hump heavy bags home on the bus; incentives such as proper old-fashioned customer service and store-only exclusives.

Sadly, anyone who has ever visited a branch of Sports Direct — one of the more depressing retail experiences available on the High Street — will know that Mr Ashley is not the man for that.  

MI6 reservations over Chinese mobile networks 

I completely agree with the boss of MI6, Alex Younger, who has expressed reservations about allowing the Chinese to build high-speed 5G mobile networks in the UK.

I don’t know anything about spying, but I do know that when my husband went to China a few years ago on government business, he wasn’t allowed to take his phone or laptop and was told to assume every conversation was bugged.

China may be technologically ahead of Britain, but ethically it remains in the last century. Do we really want it controlling our communication networks?  

Wondering what to buy the upper-class, virtue-signalling social justice warrior in your life for Christmas? Why not a £945 silver can from Tiffany’s ‘everyday objects’ range? ‘Sterling silver and shining vermeil upgrade this classic tin can’ — the perfect prop for those crass food-bank selfies.

Vegan evangelism

I bear absolutely no ill will towards vegans but I cannot bear their evangelism. The latest vegan-related nonsense is that common phrases such as ‘bringing home the bacon’ and ‘killing two birds with one stone’ ought to be banned for fear of offending the sensibilities of plant-eaters. What next: gluten-intolerant activists boycotting the Lord’s Prayer because it contains the notion of ‘daily bread’?

That’s holly obvious, Carole

According to Carole Middleton, the way to ensure a successful Yuletide is ‘be organised’, ‘buy thoughtful gifts’ and stock up on ‘essentials’ including mince pies and mulled wine.

Genius! I knew Mrs Middleton was a successful businesswoman; I hadn’t realised she was also Pippa’s ghostwriter.

Carole Middleton has given some stunning advice this Christmas

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