Friday 22nd December 2017
Dear Mr Hunt,
I am writing to you, on a chilly Friday evening, I haven’t long been home from work. Day 5 out of 6 this week. I’m back tomorrow, Saturday. I then am working Christmas Eve. I am grateful as I have Christmas Day off (taken as Annual Leave, luckily) but Boxing Day and New Years Day, my Mum and Dad will have an empty chair at the dinner table as I will be at work. I am only child, so it is upsetting for me, but really hard for my parents.
Today was our work Christmas do – we couldn’t afford anything extravagant so we all arranged to meet at the office at 2pm and everyone had to bring a dish each. Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists, Support Workers, District Nurses, Rapid Response Nurses, Doctors, Admin.. we all turned up. Unfortunately, I am newly qualified Jeremy, and what this means is that I left to start my visits at 8 and didn’t arrive back to the office until 2:30 because I’m still new at this. I was unable to bring a dish like my lovely colleagues did and didn’t eat because I was so overwhelmed, stressed and more importantly.. I had too much work to do for my patients.
Today I visited 2 patients under 50, both bedbound. I also visited two lovely ladies, both widows (a little over 50), who have lived full lives, one a teacher (yes Jeremy, another public sector worker), who both now are also bedbound. I met a lady who was promised a stair lift to be installed before Christmas so she could spend her first Christmas in a very long time, downstairs with her family. This lady is spending Christmas in her bedroom. Social Care and NHS funds mean that they can’t install as promised. These were just under half of the people that I visited today.
Jeremy, do you love your job?
I love my job. It’s hard. It’s emotional. I’m inspired, daily. I learn something new everyday, without fail. My patients smile when I enter that key code and let myself in, because I’m the only person they will see today, and tomorrow. These men and women, from all walks of life, smile at me because I’m their nurse. I’m not a drain on government funds, I’m not a “moany Nurse”, I’m not a waste of public money (because I was fortunate enough to receive the NHS Bursary). I’m Emma, I’m their nurse. They even like me after redressing infected painful wounds, injecting their body with medicine and even after having frank conversations, explaining that “Sorry, we can’t offer you that help because the funds have been cut”.
I sometimes give information which alerts them to the fact that their deteriorating quality of life will not receive any help or support, because Primary Care and Social Care won’t be receiving anymore money, in fact, it is being cut. But you know what Jeremy, they say that they like me a lot more than they like you.
Moving on. Although morbid, have you ever thought about dying? Strange question but hear me out.
When you die, where do you want to die? Would you rather be in a hospital, surrounded my incredibly knowledgable healthcare staff. Or at home? Where you feel comfortable, surrounded by your family? Your wife? Children?
You see Jeremy, thanks to the NHS myself and my colleagues enable people to die wherever they want to. I will hold their hand in their final moments and embrace their family either with a cuddle or a nod of respect. In that moment their entire world has been crushed. Their heart is in a million pieces. I’m just a nurse, I can’t fix that. But boy do I stand by the fact that I will stay, chat, pray, sit in silence for as long as they need me to.
If you’ve kept with me until now, perhaps your a better man than I thought.
This is not a letter to demand higher pay, better working conditions or support for my patients. On your, so far successful, quest to slowly dismantle and privatise the NHS and other public sectors, that would be a waste of writing as your not going to budge.
If this letter ever reaches you, I’d like you for a moment just to hear my side. My name is Emma, I qualified from City University of London this year with a 2:1 Bachelor of Science Degree in Adult Nursing.
I’m a Newly Qualified Registered Nurse, and that is perhaps 0.01% of my job today and how it makes me feel.
Yours Sincerely and Merry Christmas,
Emma Mahaffy, RN.