This May Hurt a Bit: diagnosing the NHS on stage

This May Hurt a Bit

Comedy in a time of crisis … This Could Hurt a Bit. Photograph: John Haynes

The 12th of July has often produced a feeling of dread in me. I grew up in Ulster, in the seaside town of Bundoran near the border, and I even now remember the influx of holidaymakers we would have on that date – all in search of to escape the north on the biggest marching day of the yr, and the violence it could set off.

  1. This Could Hurt a Bit
  2. Traverse,
  3. Edinburgh
  1. Starts 8 April
  2. Right up until twelve April
  3. Box workplace:
    0131-228 1404
  4. Tour particulars

In 2006, the 12th fell on a Wednesday and marked the beginning of a heatwave in London, exactly where I now dwell. It was also the day my husband, the theatre director Max Stafford-Clark, had a stroke that would change each of our lives for ever. I nonetheless shudder when I recall the knock on the door that evening.

Max had rung me at 6 to say he was on his way house. By seven, there was nevertheless no signal. Half an hour later on, I opened the door to a paralysed and gabbling Max, supported by 4 concerned neighbours who had located him collapsed in the lengthy corridor foremost to our Holloway flat. I mentioned: “Max, you’ve had a stroke. I am calling an ambulance.” He was coherent ample to beg me not to, but was too poorly to take critically. I was all of a sudden overwhelmed by the distinct likelihood that he wouldn’t make it.

My neighbour Justine named 999, whilst I told him I loved him and tried not to fall apart. Despite repeated calls to the ambulance services, it took more than an hour for them to arrive. When I asked the paramedics what had taken them so extended, they mentioned they had ”just acquired the get in touch with”. I discovered out later this possibly meant Max’s case was deprioritised as a lot more urgent calls came by means of.

Ben, the junior physician on call that evening, advised me he wasn’t confident what physical and psychological capacities Max would be left with – if he survived. One of the paramedics held my hand and explained: “Love, you’re going into shock – and you do not want to end up in hospital when you want to be with Max.” I pulled myself collectively, and so started our journey into the subterranean planet of the seriously unwell.

At midnight, Max was moved from A&ampE to a standard ward that was a vision of purgatory. The cries of “nurse, nurse” went on all through the night. I quickly identified that this persistent entreaty was the song of the ward. The young porter, who up coming morning pushed Max’s bed to the stroke/geriatric ward, mentioned: “So who did he utilised to be?” After six months in hospital, Max returned residence somewhat much better, but disabled and partially blind. Above the previous eight many years, we have met and continue to meet incredible and committed NHS workers. We are deeply grateful for their care and focus.

In 2006, the total state of the NHS had been strengthening, but I was aware of the pressures on some of the hospitals we frequented: a lack of workers tools currently being ancient, broken or each cleanliness on wards leaving one thing to be sought after. The services clearly needed support and consistency – not one more destabilising reorganisation.

This Might Hurt a Bit, my touring play about the NHS, not too long ago opened at the Octagon in Bolton. It arrives at a time when the NHS is dealing with its biggest crisis – the coalition government. I was astonished when they pushed through damaging and unpopular reforms without an electoral mandate following promising, till they had been blue in the encounter, “No more leading-down reorganisation” – therefore producing a reorganisation so vast that, as former NHS chief David Nicholson stated, “It could be seen from outer room.”

Max Stafford-Clark and Stella Feehily last year Max Stafford-Clark and Stella Feehily final 12 months. Photograph: Dan Wooller/REX

This Could Hurt a Bit is not a play about Max’s time in hospital, even though the truth that we use the NHS frequently does give us insight into what individuals encounter. Early drafts of the play reflected this individual element, but they were soon superseded – right after I interviewed medical professionals, nurses, managers, porters, campaigners and academics, studied materials about healthcare markets and PFIs, and study about the shenanigans of the Conservative, New Labour and coalition governments, who have all experimented with, in their own way, to promote off the greatest remaining public institution in the world.

The play is a comedy drama about a politically divided family members who are drawn with each other when Iris, the 91-12 months-old matriarch, is rushed to her nearby, overstretched hospital with a disturbing neurological dilemma. But it also seems at the wellness and social care bill of 2013 and the harm it brought on. Though This Might Harm a Bit is a political play (since it truly is unattainable to publish about the NHS in any other way), it also depicts the humanity of the institution, and how we require it when we are at our most vulnerable and desperate. The identical medical professionals care for us regardless of whether we are millionaires or penniless – an extraordinary act of social solidarity.

I do not present a ideal NHS due to the fact, as has been nicely-documented, it can offer an uneven services and has allow some folks down terribly. But in spite of the drip-drip of undesirable information, the NHS is not broken, as the coalition would have us feel. In fact, it is a miracle. There are 53 million folks in England – the NHS sees around one particular million folks each and every 36 hours. The vast vast majority of them are getting effectively-served. If we want to keep a overall health support that protects us, we cannot sit back. As Iris says at the close of the perform: “We mustn’t give up, Gina. We need to battle. There is even now time.”

• Michael Billington’s evaluation of This Might Hurt a Bit

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