Baby Shylo is only a few hours old. She was born three weeks early at Coventry Hospital and is one of the NHS’s newest patients.
But her first breaths, touches and tears will be experienced in a system that has already been taking care of her for months.
She was born in the middle of a SSN winter crisis, with hospitals struggling against increased demand and crippling union actions. These thoughts raced through her mother Yvonne Amankwa-Mainu’s mind as she prepared for the arrival of her baby.
“It makes you nervous, yes,” Ms. Amankwa-Mainu said. “Because you know you’re using that service. At some point in your pregnancy you’re going to need that service. So it makes you nervous. You know, every time you go to the hospital, you think oh, will it? Will I be the next person?”
The NHS grapples with rising flu and COVID cases and a rebound in seasonal respiratory illnesses. He also has to deal with strikes by nurses and ambulance operators.
Ms. Amankwa-Mainu is in no doubt which side she is taking in this controversy.
“Government needs to listen to the doctors and nurses and NHS people and really fix this,” he says unequivocally.
Shylo and her proud mother are under the watchful eye of midwife Channel Griffiths.
His department, he says, like everywhere in the NHS is struggling to cope with workforce shortages. There are other factors as well. Ms Griffiths says her mothers-to-be are getting older and with more serious health conditions.
“We need more midwives,” Griffiths says.
“Now there are a lot more women having children who have a lot more comorbidities and things like obesity. They also have a chronic history of diabetes and high blood pressure, which makes them more at risk in early pregnancy.”
Since its creation 75 years ago, the NHS has given birth to more than 52 million children.
“I Thought I Was Dying”
Edwina Jones was born before the creation of the NHS. You saved her life on Saturday night.
She was rushed to Coventry hospital with paramedics doing everything to keep her alive despite her 78-year-old grandmother fearing the worst.
“I thought I was going to die,” says Ms. Jones, matter-of-factly.
Mrs Jones had struggled to get an appointment with her GP, her health was failing and she then passed out.
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His granddaughter called an ambulance which responded within minutes. Her arrival at the hospital had been anticipated and a bed was waiting for her.
Unbeknownst to Mrs. Jones he had suffered a heart block and his health was deteriorating rapidly. The speed of the medical intervention was crucial, otherwise the outcome would have been very different.
Sitting upright in a chair next to her bed, two operations later and with a pacemaker inserted, Mrs. Jones is almost ready to go home.
“I have to commend,” he says before pausing to reflect on the challenges facing the NHS. “I’m glad our group wasn’t on strike. I’m glad, because I don’t think I’d be here to talk to you if our group was on strike.”
The NHS is a life-saving and crisis reception service. It needs reforms, personnel and answers.