This book takes a look on the National Health Service (NHS) within the UK. This was such an important and powerful story of a Nurse in the NHS. I was laughing and crying as Christie goes through her Nurse training full of enthusiasm, being overwhelmed once qualified, seeing and doing things you can’t properly explain the experience of, and also seeing the strain on the NHS and how it is affecting the well-being of the staff. The layout worked well with Christie’s time in training in Mental Health and looking after sick children, to going through A&E and elderly care and the mortuary. We also see how it is like to be a relative to a dying patient, and how you could be trained to save people’s lives but have to sit back and watch someone you love die.
Not only that, but it was beautifully written. It perfectly shows the good and bad side of the NHS without seeming patronising; it is delivered with passion, empathy, and honesty. I felt a strong mix of emotions all the way through, and it felt like Christie was telling the story to me personally over a hot drink in a cafe. She also explains the shear state of the NHS and how it desperately needs saving, which something that I feel very passionate about. There is a clear philosophical view that the personalities of the staff, and the amount of compassion, empathy and kindness is what makes the NHS special and is what should be at the heart of health care and recovery rates. This is probably something that is slowly being forgotten about, and putting the NHS in jeopardy as the staffing levels and well-being are dangerously low and parts of the NHS is being privatised.
There was only one critique that I found, which is probably just a personal thing but I still think it needs clarification. Not all Elderly Care wards are as bad as they were depicted in the book. I’m not a nurse, but I am a Health Care Assistant on an Elderly Care ward and, even though it is extremely busy and at full capacity the majority of the time with most of the patients requiring hoisting or two people to assist, patients are not neglected. I understand that other Trusts might be below expectations and patients are sometimes treated less than dignified in some hospitals, but it’s definitely not like that in every elderly care ward. It’s just something I wanted to clarify.
In part I listened to the Audiobook, and it was narrated by Christie herself and she delivers her story with such poise and feeling. In the book, with every chapter there is a quote or a phrase, from philosophers, nurses, authors, and poets which further embeds the philosophy that care and kindness is at the heart of successful healthcare. It is compared how nursing has changed from the early days with Florence Nightingale and where it is now, how the profession does not have a concrete set of attributes, as different areas of nursing require different skill-sets and personalities. She shows how sometimes the staff and what they do within NHS hospitals can be overlooked, how small acts of kindness may be considered as meaningless or disregarded when news stories come out about the further crisis of the NHS. Despite the brutal reality of it all, I still came away feeling proud to be working in the NHS.
“Take my hand, hold my hand tightly. Let us fling open the door and find whatever we find, face all the horror and beauty of life, let us really live. Together, our hands will not shake.”