It has been a year since my last column and my life has altered beyond recognition.
I’m now mum to a jolly wee lad who has filled our lives with smiles, slobbery kisses, strange smells and sleepless nights. I’ve loved getting to know him as his developing personality emerges and have tried to learn from the example of his wide-eyed enthusiasm for the world around him.
Professionally too it has been illuminating. In the past I’ve written about issues such as Scotland’s patient safety programme, the keen focus on early years, and the need for a universal health visiting system; and I’ve interviewed patients, carers, midwives, doctors and nurses from the Borders to the isles and everywhere in between. But to personally be on the receiving end of the health service’s professionalism and expertise has been humbling.
The NHS is an extraordinary institution and I, like many others, am incredibly grateful for the support and care it has provided to me and my family.
I returned to work as the NHS took centre stage in the referendum campaign. I’m not surprised by the passionate debate the future of Scotland’s NHS has inspired. It is a precious institution that deserves our focus and fervour. It is not perfect – who is?
And there are challenges like waiting times, delayed discharge, persistent health inequalities and demographic change that will still need to be addressed whichever constitutional option Scotland chooses on the 18th of September. But it has been reassuring to see that despite the intense spotlight upon it the NHS has simply been getting on with business as usual.
And ultimately so will Scotland. Because whatever the result – whether there are to be negotiations for establishing an independent country or consultation on further powers – change is now before us.
That the debate has managed to break free of Holyrood’s concrete walls and this change is now being carried by the engagement and energy of ordinary Scots keen to contribute to the conversation about their country’s future is all the more refreshing.
In health, too, change is being driven by an ambition to create a truly person-centred health and care service that listens to patients and carers and strives to place them at its heart, and a shift in mindset that sees the focus placed on assets rather than deficits.
In Scotland our greatest asset is not the oil beneath our seas or the whisky sleeping in our barrels, but our people. And I have every confidence that this country that I love, with its resourceful, resilient, brilliant people will rise to this next challenge, whichever path we choose to tread.
Since last time... enjoyed reading Holyrood, particularly Tom Freeman’s health pages, without already knowing what’s in it...bought a house and gardening trowel.