I owe my life to the skill and dedication of the doctors, nurses and support staff of Leeds General Infirmary.
Without their 10-hour, all-night operation for an aortic dissection six months ago on this date, I’d have died.
Apart from the surgeon, Mr Papaspyros, I don’t even know their names. I was away with the fairies much of the time, in intensive care.
But I do know they are worth more than the lower-than-inflation pay rise imposed on them by the Tories this year, after a decade of real-term cuts.
They are at the end of their tether. They say “enough is enough”, and I am with them in their struggle. If it comes to it, I will be on their picket line.
And I say that, with tears in my eyes and anxiety in my heart, knowing that our two-year-old great-granddaughter is still being treated for a serious illness at the same hospital, Leeds General Infirmary.
She needs them as much as I did – more, much more, even. Her life is in their hands.
I know they will not let her down, despite the vote for strike action by the Royal College of Nursing,the first in their 106-year history.
Our family is sick with worry about what the future holds, but we must trust their pledge to continue with the essential treatment care that she, and those like her, so desperately need.
It should never have come to this, and it cannot be allowed to get worse. The RCN has no experience of industrial action.
Ministers are gearing up for a conflict on the lines of Jeremy Hunt’s dispute with junior hospital doctors.
Things could go very wrong, very quickly, with potentially fatal results for patients.
Our unfeeling Tory rulers, who use the NHS as a political football, with a new health secretary every five minutes, including one who prefers to be a TV reality-show celebrity, have reduced our health service to a shadow of what it should be.
Nurses, doctors and support staff are fleeing our hospitals for better-paid, less stressful employment. Those who are left behind carry an increasing burden of overwork.
The RCN vote for strike action, and similar ballots among other health unions, must be the spur to shake even this lazy, myopic government out of its savage torpor.
Health bosses say they have contingency plans for strikes, as if they rather relish the breakout of a war on the wards. That is the wrong approach. They, and their Tory masters, should be working on a plan for peace.
If money can be found to restore bankers’ bonuses, if there is room for mega-profits by the oil and gas companies, if there is cash to return the health and social care levy to those who should be paying it, there is enough to solve this NHS funding crisis.
Not just for the nurses, but for the lives of those near and dear to us who depend upon them.