New year message: In 2020 NHS workers saved my life

Children's author Michael Rosen at Alexandra Palace

Children's author Michael Rosen at Alexandra Palace - Credit: Polly Hancock

The nurses, doctors and health workers of Whittington Hospital saved my life; the staff at St Pancras Rehabiliation Hospital taught me how to stand up and walk; the nurses and doctors at the Royal Free are right now working week by week in trying to restore sight to my left eye.

The doctors at my Muswell Hill GP practice and the outreach physiotherapy and district nurses have helped me cope with such things as my tracheostomy wound, getting strength back into my legs, and general repairs on the bits of me that crashed with Covid and Intensive Care.

I owe all these people more than is expressed by the word "gratitude". I'm here because they were there. And, of course, they weren't just here for me. They were and still there for hundreds, thousands and - nationally - millions of people.  

Thinking of us locally, the people I've mentioned make up a local network of support and care seeing us through for our whole life-times.

I feel buoyed up by what has been done for me and want to say to them all: "I salute you and support you in your work and in your struggles to be better paid and for you yourselves to be better supported through more recruitment, training and more time to rest and recuperate." 


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Even more locally and personally, there's my wife and family. Just to think of how my wife sensed how ill I was, and with the help of a local friend and GP, tested my oxygen take-up and then got me the Whittington A&E just in time: to think of the strain they must have gone through, waiting for calls from doctors and nurses not knowing for weeks and weeks whether I would survive - brings me to tears.

With hospital visits not possible, there was a great lonely gulf between where I was and where they were. Even so, my wife was allowed to come in to the Whittington and I was wheeled out to meet her, still not fully conscious.

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She showed me video phone messages from our children and it was this (as Professor Hugh Montgomery told us later), that was the game-changer in bringing me back to the world. Much love back to you, dear wife and family. 

For everyone I've mentioned here, may you all have a great time this December, however and with whoever you celebrate this time of year.

Sh'koyech! (It means 'have strength' in Yiddish.) 

  • Michael Rosen is a children's author who lives in Muswell Hill

READ MORE: The land of life’: Muswell Hill’s Michael Rosen on surviving coronavirus, the NHS and returning to writing

Muswell Hill poet Michael Rosen back at Alexandra Palace after spending 47 days in intensive care wi

Muswell Hill poet Michael Rosen back at Alexandra Palace after spending 47 days in intensive care with coronavirus. Here, he gives a thumbs up to a passer-by, the TV chef John Torode. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

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