NHS70: ‘How the NHS saved my life three times’

Brian Marshall from Ickwell has had his life saved by the NHS three times. Picture: Bedfordshire CCG

Brian Marshall from Ickwell has had his life saved by the NHS three times. Picture: Bedfordshire CCG - Credit: Archant

Today 70 years ago, the National Health Service was launched by the then health minister Aneurin Bevan – delivering medical care free at point of need to all, regardless of wealth or status.

Ickwell's Brian Marshall had his life saved three times by the NHS. Picture: Bedfordshire CCG

Ickwell's Brian Marshall had his life saved three times by the NHS. Picture: Bedfordshire CCG - Credit: Archant

In the post-war era, hospitals, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, opticians and dentists were brought together under one umbrella for the first time to treat the sick, rehabilitate the injured, and ultimately save lives.

There have been countless world-firsts and successes, including transplants and the first test- tube baby. And at the Bedfordshire Clinical Commisioning Group they have been celebrating the milestone by hearing your stories for their NHS 70 Stories project.

Many got in touch with their tales of triumph, including Ickwell’s Brian Marshall – who has had his life saved by the NHS no fewer than three times.

Mr Marshall said: “I am grateful to the NHS for so many things, but especially for saving my life, not once, but three times, so it’s a huge thank you from me for the NHS’ 70th birthday.

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“On May 27, 1971, I was driving along the Moggerhanger bends near Sandy when a car which was being chased by police hit me head-on. I was badly injured and had to be cut out of the driving seat of the J4 van I had been driving – but the Sandy fire brigade did a wonderful job and I was taken by ambulance to A&E at Bedford Hospital.

“I ended up in intensive care, and my right arm was seriously injured at the elbow. The surgeons were going to amputate, but luckily for me, a last-minute second opinion saved my arm – it was a miracle.

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“I received the most tremendous care from Bedford Hospital for my injuries. After 10 days I was back home and soon back to work with a repaired right elbow. I learned how to use my left hand for tennis and squash, transferring to my right hand for forehand shots.

“It worked a treat and I achieved great results and was playing well, and I soon got back to playing cricket.

“Bedford Hospital saved my life with quick actions and great care.”

Seven years later, in July 1978, Mr Marshall suffered a sports injury that quickly became life-threatening.

He said: “I was hit on the head by a bouncer – a type of delivery by a cricket fast-bowler – while playing cricket for the Caldecote league team and was knocked out.

“I was treated at Bedford Hospital’s intensive care ward for a bad injury to the left side of my head. I felt it was my own fault as I should have hooked the ball, but instead I had missed – and of course there were no safety helmets then.

“I had to have a cut on the side of the head to relieve the pressure caused by the injury to my sygomatic arch – which is the bony area from your cheekbone up to the side of the skull.

“Thank you, NHS, for once again saving my life. My wife told me later that last rites were being considered that time.

Almost three decades went by before Mr Marshall’s third experience – this time to treat pre-cancerous cells in his oesophagus, a necessity given his family history of the disease.

Mr Marshall said: “In October 1997 I underwent surgery to treat a serious stomach problem. I had developed Barrett’s oesophagus after several years of severe indigestion and acid reflux – and had a family history of cancer of the oesophagus, from which my father died in 1981.

Surgeon Mr Foley performed a Nissen fundoplication procedure, where the top of the stomach is used to strengthen the valve so it is less likely to allow food, drink or acid to travel back into the foodpipe. Once again I felt I owed my life to the NHS.

“Over the years, I like many other grateful patients, have tried in my own way to give something back – for me it was running marathons, and I walked with cricketer Ian Botham on NHS fundraising events.

“I wanted to share my story to celebrate the NHS’ 70th birthday, and to say a very sincere thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

The NHS cares for approximately one million people every day. It also employs staff from all over the world in 350 careers.

To read more NHS stories from the county go to bedfordshireccg.nhs.uk and follow the link to NHS 70 Stories. There, a host of people who have used NHS services and those who work and supported the NHS tell why it is special to them.

If you have a story to tell Bedfordshire CCG about your NHS experience, send an email with pictures to NHS70.Stories@nhs.net.

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