‘I owe them my life more than once’ – Geoffrey’s praise of the NHS as it marks 70 years

Geoffrey Joy, 77, from Hilsea, wants to thank the NHS as it turns 70 for giving him treatment for 63 years of its existence. Picture: Sarah Standing (180546-8718)
Geoffrey Joy, 77, from Hilsea, wants to thank the NHS as it turns 70 for giving him treatment for 63 years of its existence. Picture: Sarah Standing (180546-8718)
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THE National Health Service was created in 1948 and eight years before that Geoffrey Joy from Portsmouth was born.

Today Geoffrey wants to thank the NHS staff past and present who have come to his aid when he was on the brink of death due to diabetes, urgently needing heart bypass surgery and care when he broke his spine in an accident on a bus.

‘They are absolutely amazing,’ said the 77-year-old.

‘I owe them my life more than once and all those doctors and nurses are the reason my beautiful grandchildren are here today.’

In 1955 when Geoffrey was 15 years old, he was rushed to Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham due to Type 1 diabetes.

He said: ‘I weighed six stone and three pounds when I went into hospital and the doctors diagnosed me as terminal.

‘They gave me all the treatment they could and I was given a massive injection of insulin.’

The father-of-three was in hospital for 12 weeks before leaving weighing eight stone.

Geoffrey said: ‘Ever since that day I have been going to the same diabetes clinic for the past 63 years and I can still remember the first consultant I had, Doctor Hern.

‘He helped me learned to deal with my diabetes daily but back then the technology was not as modern as it is now.

‘I remember having to put a urine sample into a test tube, put in a solution, and then heat it over a Bunsen burner next to my bed and wait for it to change colour to check my glucose levels.’

Geoffrey now uses a modern finger prick machine which measures the amount of insulin in the blood.

He said: ‘So much has changed since I first had the illness but it is all making it easier to deal with, although I am still on the same type of diet I was in 1955!’

In 1970, Geoffrey was taken to Queen Alexandra hospital again.

He said: ‘When I was 30 I was sat on a bus in Portsmouth and it went over a bump in the road and the rod of the seat hit me up the back and broke my spine.

‘I was taken to Queen Alexandra Hospital again and again the doctors and nurses were dedicated in their roles to help me and fix me up.

‘Over the years I have thought about how much I have used our health service and at this time when everyone is celebrating the 70th anniversary I wanted to express my gratitude.’

After having spent more time in a hospital than most people by this point in his life, Geoffrey had one last major incident in which the NHS came to his rescue once again.

When Geoffrey was 61 he was taken to Midhurst Community Hospital for heart bypass surgery.

He said: ‘They had only recently started bypass surgery there but I had it done and all the staff were so caring.’

Geoffrey said: ‘My wife had my two sons, who are also diabetic, and my daughter because the NHS were always there to look after me.

‘I now have three grandchildren because those doctors and nurses did their best and I had access all the time I needed it because it is free.

‘Sure today it has some flaws, and there are things we all grumble about, but it really is a fantastic service that means everyone can have the healthcare they need.’

Geoffrey added: ‘It is thanks to the staff and their dedication to their work that I, along with many others, lived a long and happy life and that really is something we should all be celebrating.’