For once a good - personal - story about the NHS. After years of resisting, I finally went to collect my new hearing aids from our local hospital, the Kent and Canterbury. I grew up with my mother having severe hearing loss and never wanted that for myself. Anyway I assumed I would just collect them, maybe a few minutes to fit them and off I'd go.
But no, the lovely woman I saw, Penny, said first she'd "get me comfortable" with the hearing aids, then she's do lots of adjustments and fine tune them. I told her about my fears about having the hearing aids, glasses and cannula all over my ears and she said if I couldn't get used to this then there were things they could do to make it easier but to try first for a few weeks. Then she added a tinnitus mask into the mix to help distract from the hideous sound Ive been getting pretty continuously. Then gave me a battery operated "sound ball" which I can put under my pillow at night, again to mask the high pitched hissing I get which is worse in the quiet of the night.
Then she told me I can come back any time with any problems, and that there's a walk in clinic every friday morning where they will mend the hearing aids if they break down while you wait. And a battery outpost for new ones at my own surgery. Crikey! Such a good service in such hard times for the NHS. I asked her about funding and service cuts - she wouldn't tell me much but did say they are all under tremendous strain. And yet they are giving such a good service.
Before I left I asked her name again and she pointed to her badge with a laugh - and right enough there it was, Penny Lane. I said I reckoned she must have been teased all her life for that. When I left she told me I have a lovely smile. So I went away smiling even more.