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Celebrating our NHS

How proud we all felt watching the recent Olympic opening ceremony in London, celebrating the very best of British! I, like many people, I felt all the preparations and seven years of planning really got off to a flying start.

How wonderful too that Danny Boyle included the NHS as something to celebrate and be proud of, particularly as it is going through such major change and review.

The Olympics have been a major talking point for many different reasons, but one thing that is clear is that it has had a major impact on people's enthusiasm for sport.

Everyone, young or old, has a favourite who inspires them in some way, and cheering them on to win a medal brings a smile to their faces and gives them that 'feel-good factor'. Our athletes have been an inspiration and real ambassadors for the UK.

It was clear from the ceremony that high standards had been set, and including a celebration of the NHS reminded us of the role it has played in our society in improving the health of our nation.

Many of the people involved were volunteers, who will also be a crucial element in ensuring the health and safety of the athletes and people attending the games, along with other members of the emergency services and armed forces.

The inclusion of the NHS in the celebrations has stirred much discussion and debate, with some asking what there is to celebrate. Recent media reports of poor care and appalling standards, particularly for the elderly and vulnerable members of society have been extremely distressing for all concerned, and there is no doubt that things need to drastically improve in some organisations.

Jane Cummings, our new Chief Nursing Officer, has identified five areas for improvement which we need to embrace and take forward within our profession to once again make the NHS a national treasure.

But what about the good care, why are we not celebrating this? And importantly, why is this care not being shared and replicated across the NHS? What is it that stops us, in this age of technology and advanced communication, from talking about the good things that happen?

There are lots of examples of exemplary practice in primary and community care, but it is clear that continued improvement is essential to keep up with the increasing pressure and high expectations everyone expects from the NHS.

Commissioning is not the only answer in the quest to get the best for patients and their families. The culture of the NHS needs to change to embrace and celebrate what it does best, and NHS staff, like many of the athletes in the Olympics, must strive to do better and never settle for anything less than gold standard.

Wouldn't it be great if we could see the same level of enthusiasm, commitment and passion in the NHS?