I had to write this blog to pay my own little tribute to our wonderful NHS, which I could not fault in any way yesterday when I turned up at Ipswich Hospital with other ‘awkward’ patients to receive a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine. All of us could have had a potential allergic reaction to the vaccine.

The anaesthetist was waiting for me as soon as I arrived at 09:30. In fact he told me I was his only patient as the others had different problems and might need adrenaline, but trust me I had to be different. I had only been there 5 minutes and I’d already had a cannula inserted and 25mg of Hydrocortisone to dampen down any potential neck swelling due to a legacy of extensive radiotherapy to the neck 4 years ago.

I looked around my cubicle. There was a resuscitation trolley, a blood pressure/pulse monitoring machine, a syringe ready to inject more steroid with some anti-histamine if needed. There was a bed all ready for me to be laid out on, and last but not least a sick bowl which I hoped would stay empty. I heard a lady in the next cubicle asking a nurse whether the vaccine would make her keel over and die. The nurse said no it wouldn’t, but joked that she was in the right place if it did.

A nurse administered the vaccine and suddenly there were three people in my cubicle; the nurse, the anaesthetist, and a burly looking porter in case he was called on to lift me onto the bed. All stood there waiting for me to go into anaphylactic shock; I felt like I ought to just to please them, as I was taking up so much of their time. The base of my neck did get a little tight, but I’ve known worse. They monitored my blood pressure a couple of times and then one by one disappeared out of the cubicle, assuring me that they were staying near.

And stay near they did. Sam was allowed back in to sit with me, but the anaesthetist hung around all morning until he was happy I was okay. Nurses popped in every five minutes. I couldn’t have had better treatment even if I’d gone to the private sector. I was allowed to stay until 3pm when the department closed. I will have to go through it all again on May 21st.

I realise that the country is broke and times are hard. There is no money, but in my opinion NHS staff on the front line deserve more than the 1% pay rise offered. I applaud you all for what it’s worth.