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I heart the NHS because it saved my life last year!

Emma Hillier, our Principal Consultant Healthcare Operations at Rethink Healthcare, went through a major life-changing experience battling breast cancer last year. She wrote the following article to share her experience and opinion of the NHS and how it saved her life!

The NHS saved my life in 2019.

I Heart the NHS.

I know a lot of NHS recruitment consultants say this, but I really, genuinely do.. from the bottom of my heart.

Having been involved in supporting the NHS to deliver against their key outcomes for the past 10 years, it has always been close to my heart, but never in the way it has been in the past 8 months.

A few weeks ago I posted an update letting my LinkedIn network know that I was back to work after an extended time out of the business. Most assumed I had been off taking a sabbatical, travelling or something similar; as I’m in my 30s this was a reasonable assumption to make…sadly, not so much. In March 2019 I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer; the 20th of March to be precise, a date that will forever be my ‘cancerversary’, where my world tipped on its axis and our wonderful Health Service began the process of saving my life.

3 ultrasounds, 1 mammogram, 1 Tomogram, 1 MRI, 2 guided biopsies (ouch), 1 surgery, 1 radioactive trace and sentinel node biopsy, 1 picc line, 12 doses of chemotherapy, copious pre and supporting meds, 16 blood tests, 9 doses of Herceptin ( with 9 to go) and Tamoxifen for the foreseeable future;

and here I am… delighted to be NED ( No Evidence of Disease) and more grateful than words can express for our NHS.

People moan about the NHS a lot and it gets bad, and may I say I think, unfair press about waiting times, over-crowded departments, missed targets and other areas where people like to say its ‘failing’ but at its heart, I can tell you from experience this is not how it appears.

It’s actually dedicated staff supporting people in their worst moments, it’s access to medication, procedures and treatments that in other countries would cost hundreds of thousands of pounds, it’s helping people recover from whatever condition or illness they are facing. I have met many Doctors and Nurses in the last year and yes there is no denying that in places they are overstretched and overworked, but not once did one of them moan or make me feel like they didn’t have time for me. Even amid a full day of operations my surgeon came to give me a hug between procedures because she knew how frightened I was.

The system is stretched, the lack of funding and investment in recruiting and training new staff has put immeasurable pressure on the existing workforce. But it’s not the workforce that are ‘failing’. The government must genuinely prioritise protecting this wonderful institution, providing it with the resources to be able to deliver what it wants to.

I believe that Trusts need people to genuinely help provide simple solutions to issues that they are frankly too busy doing their day jobs to address and hopefully this is where I can start to give back.

It’s often said that as a consultant in this market space you need a ‘USP’, something that sets you apart from all the other voices offering ‘support’. Well here’s mine- the NHS saved my life last year and that makes me more passionate about working with it to help make improvements, ease pressure and deliver better outcomes than I can find the words to express – apart from to say to all the NHS professionals who take the time to read this

I heart the NHS as much as you do.