"Life-saving and life-changing"

About: St Bartholomew's Hospital

This is for all the staff at Barts Heart Centre who, on the 9th February, stabilised my condition and, during a nine hour emergency operation, repaired my dissected aorta.

The notes say the operation was “uneventful”. My notes would read “the operation was life-saving and life-changing to a degree that I can only guess at.”

That a superbly co-ordinated team of people was waiting at 7am ready to take delivery of my ragbag of life-threatening symptoms, bring them under control, investigate, manage, propose a collective pathway leading to an emergency operation which took nine hours to complete - this is simply extraordinary. I cannot for one moment imagine what the combined skills list of those involved must look like.

But if the skills at Barts were the foundation of my recovery, the unerring commitment to my needs, comfort, dignity, and choices were what bound you together in one purpose. You explained the choices when I had choices, the expected treatment course and the expected outcomes as well as the possible discomforts, the targets that I needed to aim for and even advice on the best choices from the food orders!

I never once felt in the dark or daunted by my stay - quite the opposite - I was genuinely infected by your collective sense of purpose, just to get me well again. Nor was I ever made to feel you were after the bed. Across every level of staff, from surgeons, anaesthetists, registrars, doctors, physiotherapists, specialist nurses, nurses, health care workers, food staff and cleaning staff, - never, ever doubt it - you are utterly magnificent!

Of course I fell foul to the mind altering qualities that nine hours of anaesthetic brings. So apologies to the staff who, my partner assures me, fell foul to a monstrous, highly ungrateful, shocking side of me post-op. (What on earth do you put in that anaesthetic??)

That a letter of heartfelt thanks should also sound a bitter note is just a reflection of the times we are in. Your phenomenal skill levels and your commitment to care and recovery make the NHS. I saw you all working at an amazing intensity for many hours, brushing off the shift patterns and pressures. This is your work because this is what you choose to do. Being put in a position by those presently in power where you are compelled to spend more time and effort working at just defending your work - this borders on a criminal attack on the very ethics you embrace.

I wish you free of this insidious challenge to common sense decency by people who would probably never set foot in the NHS unless to undermine it.

You have collectively done a wonderful thing for me.

Every single one of you should feel justly proud that the new valve beating away inside me feels as though it is being fired by your utter passion for excellence of care!

Thank you, from my heart.

Story from NHS Choices

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Response from St Bartholomew's Hospital

Dear David,

Thank you very much for taking time to share your experience of your life saving operation and the treatment you received at St Bartholomew’s Hospital. It is wonderful to hear that our staff were caring and compassionate when you most needed it.

Your kind words have been shared with the teams at the Barts Heart Centre as they will love to hear them.

Very best wishes,

Barts Health NHS Trust

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