The review took me straight to A&E but the amazing NHS was there for me


An ECHO reporter has spoken of the frightening moment he was told to go straight to A&E after having his eye examined – and the incredible care he received from the NHS.

Political editor Liam Thorp had suffered from severe headaches and blurred vision in his right eye “for weeks” before going to the optician.

After further inspection, the 33-year-old was asked to go straight to the hospital where he was diagnosed with retinal detachment.

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Here our political editor pays tribute to the incredible work of our NHS heroes and why we must protect him at all costs.

In an article written in 2015, Dr Neil Shastri-Hurst, the recently defeated Conservative Party candidate in the North Shropshire by-elections, asked if it was “really worth fighting for the NHS”.

Dr Shastri-Hurst, who lost to the Lib Dems after a historic departure from his party last month, wrote that “health rationing has always happened, but maybe it is time to be more frank and honest on what we can realistically afford in a public system ”.

He is not the only one to have put forward such ideas. There are a number of voices who like to periodically question the future of our free national point-of-use health service.

I have always been passionate about the NHS and believe that supporting and protecting this unique and remarkable institution is of the utmost importance to our society.

Fortunately for me, until now this passion has not come from real personal experience.

At the age of 33, I was fortunate enough to avoid any major health problems or the need for serious surgery or treatment.

Well, that was the case until about a month ago.

Having suffered from severe headaches and blurred vision in my right eye for a few weeks, I went to the optician, naively believing that my problems would be quickly resolved with a new prescription for glasses or perhaps eye drops. the eyes.

Sadly, the expression of concern I saw etched on the optician’s face told a different story and he told me to rush to the hospital.

We are extremely fortunate here in Liverpool to have access to the world famous St Paul’s Eye Hospital, which is attached to the Royal Liverpool Hospital.

It is a highly respected specialist facility that people travel to from far and wide for all kinds of eye problems.

The situation in my right eye – which included dangerously high pressure – meant that upon arriving at St Paul’s that afternoon, I was immediately seen and quickly diagnosed with retinal detachment.



Liam Thorp after undergoing retinal detachment surgery

It’s a problem that occurs when the retina – a crucial part of the eye that sends visual images to the brain – is moved away from its normal position.

It is a very serious problem which is likely to cause blindness without urgent treatment and I have been told that I will need emergency surgery in a few days.

It was a real shock and something that took a long time to process. I had initially hoped to go to work after my hospital visit – but the reality of the situation meant I wouldn’t be back at my desk for weeks.

But that initial shock – and the emotions that naturally followed – have been tempered by an overwhelming sense of gratitude to those who are doing all they can to make things better.

This included the first nurse I met in the ER, Melissa, who managed to let me know that there were serious concerns about the situation with my eyes, all the while making me laugh and feel awkward. ease – a Scouse specialist skill.

Or Dr Ken, a surgeon from Malaysia via New Zealand – who would be part of the operating team later in the week. He calmly explained to me what had happened and what he and his team would do to fix it.

The combination of kindness, care, skill and expertise was amazing and kept me relatively comfortable during what has been quite a disturbing time in my life.

I was raised in the love and admiration of our National Health Service and now, for the first time in my personal experience, I was discovering exactly why this is such a unique and vital institution that we are so fortunate to have. ‘have access.

The following days were a bit hazy (metaphorically and literally) of return visits to St Paul for preoperative analysis and discussion and this crucial combination of kindness and expertise was reflected in every member of staff at the NHS I have been in contact with. with.

The surgery came later in the week and although I was a little anxious to be woken up for the operation with only a local anesthetic in place, I couldn’t help but be impressed as I listened. the surgeons discuss the complexity of the work they were doing on my eye.

A nurse sat next to me and held my hand throughout the operation. A simple act of kindness and compassion that was hugely appreciated as I tried to keep my cool.

I have also been impressed by the medical advancements which mean that such delicate and skillful surgery is now relatively common for the NHS.

In his memoirs, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown speaks of undergoing an then experimental retinal detachment operation in 1971.

Brown had previously lost his sight in his left eye after a rugby injury and was at risk of going completely blind from a detachment from the other – without the efforts of an Indian surgeon called Dr Hector Chawla, who had performed research on such treatments. .

As Brown writes, it was in part thanks to Dr. Chawla’s breakthroughs that the success rate for retinal reattachment rose from 20% to 90% in the 40 years after his own surgery.

As for my own operation, I was told it was a success and that my retina had been reattached, which was a huge relief to hear.

I am now in a period of waiting and hoping that the sight in my right eye will improve – it remains quite blurry and could take a few weeks before I know how things will turn out in the longer term, but progress are on track.



Echo political editor Liam Thorp underwent emergency surgery for retinal detachment in his eye
Echo political editor Liam Thorp underwent emergency surgery for retinal detachment in his eye

I am in regular contact with the brilliant team at St Paul’s who continue to guide me through this troubling time, I am eternally grateful to them.

A thought that often crossed my mind in the weeks following my sudden diagnosis and surgery is how much more difficult this situation would have been if I had received a big financial bill immediately after,

This would be the case for patients in many other countries – and while our politicians publicly promise to keep health care free, recent changes in policy and storytelling suggest we should definitely be concerned about the direction of travel.

Over the past two decades, charges have been introduced for secondary care in the NHS for those who are not ‘usual residents’.

The rules have become particularly strict in England in recent years under the government’s “hostile environment” policies.

A recent report by the Institute for Public Policy Research found that the current NHS pricing system requires migrants to pay 150% of the cost of their health care.

The report says the system is a threat to public health care because it deters and delays people from seeking treatment and has been plagued with accusations of racial profiling and poor decision-making – while being very costly to to supply.

When establishing the NHS, Nye Bevan wrote that “no society can legitimately call itself civilized if a sick person is denied medical help for lack of means”. There are genuine fears that this principle is already being sidelined in some aspects of healthcare in this country – and that the worst could be yet to come.

I am fortunate that when things suddenly turned badly for me, I didn’t have to worry about whether showing up for emergency treatment might get me in trouble with the Ministry of Health. ‘Interior – and I’m lucky to live in a country where I didn’t have to think about how I could afford to pay for the surgery I desperately needed.

Our National Health Service is a phenomenal creation, the best example of a company working together to create something that we will all need at some point in time – sometimes when we least expect it.

We must do everything to protect it.

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