geoff

Geoff
Head of Health Planning 
Development and Partnerships

I was born in the NHS and the service has been part of my life ever since. I love how the NHS is there to provide the best of care to all people who need it, regardless of their ability to pay. My earliest memories of the NHS stem from my childhood, where the NHS helped me through a long period of recovery and rehabilitation from childhood illness, and I still have clear memories of the dedication of the doctors, nurses and therapists, without whose help I would not be here today. Although my role is not on the frontline, I meet many members of staff and services users and I enjoy hearing all their stories. Every day I am bowled over by the professionalism and compassion of staff and, even more so, the stories from patients about how the NHS has made a real difference to their lives. In my current role, particularly as project manager for the Community Health Hub at Brighton General, I get to listen to all these stories. These stories remind us why the NHS is so precious and help to inform how we can make the service even better for the future. Roll on the next 70 years and beyond!

Most of us will not remember a time before the NHS, but I remember talking to a gentleman in his 90s a couple of years ago about his own memories of life before the NHS. People in need were scared to go to the doctor because they could not afford the fee. He told me harrowing stories of neighbours, dying from cancer, in exquisite pain because they cannot afford pain relief. Quite simply I do not want to back to those days. We know that the challenges presented by an ageing population, by new treatments and rising expectations, present ever increasing funding challenges. But, I believe that a fully funded NHS that is free at the point of delivery is something that should always be supported. NHS70 reminds us why the NHS is so valuable.

This is personal and a rather sad story. My life changed forever in December 2013 when my wife was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia. 15 months later she sadly died having succumbed to an infection days after she underwent the bone marrow stem cell transplant. This doesn't sound like a story about a proudest moment. But, I am immensely proud of how the NHS responded to my wife's illness. She began her first chemotherapy within days of diagnosis and throughout the whole journey her care was dedicated, expert and compassionate. Although she sadly didn't make it, I draw immense comfort today that my wife received the best of care and nothing could have been done to change the outcome. That means a heck of a lot.

It is difficult to name any one individual because the NHS is full of heroes, and it doesn't matter if you are a cleaner, a consultant or a Chief Executive - everyone is a hero. However, there is one individual who does stand out. Her name is Professor Dame Parveen Kumar and she was, until her recent retirement from practice, Consultant Gastroenterologist at Barts. Although not uncommon now, she stood out as a British Asian woman doctor when she graduated in the 1970s. She went on to be President of the BMA, Academic Vice President of the Royal College of Physicians and has held a string of other positions as one of the most pre eminent doctors of her generation.  She is still Professor of Medicine and Education at Bars and the London School of Medicine, and the textbook she co-wrote and edited, Kumar and Clark’s Clinical Medicine has been used by medical students and doctors across the globe. She is featured in the current Women in Medicine Project at the Royal College of Physicians.  It is a privilege to have met her. I was one of her patients!