I’m starting an appreciation society. Not for the new batch of dedicated, keen consultants now facing the threat of shift-work or even redundancy; not for the put-upon middle grades caught in a ‘Groundhog Day’ time loop over contract negotiations; not even for our medical secretaries, deftly managing the daily barrage from irate patients and moody doctors. No, I’m starting an appreciation society for those stalwarts of the life-saving cuppa for busy juniors, those darlings of the NHS – the good old WRVS.
Those lovely WRVS staff who give up their free time to run the snack bars and coffee shops in our hospitals, supplying endless tea and toast, at very reasonable prices, to the hordes of weary staff and visitors; offering an oasis of calm and a kind word to the frail, sick and put-upon.
Sure, the counter-service may come at a glacial pace and the fruit has seen better days, but there’s a real warm glow of community spirit emanating from these places. Waiting for the arthritic assistant to work out how to use the new-fangled scanning device can try your patience as your bleep goes off for the third time, but it’s uplifting to see such altruism embedded in the physical make-up of our NHS.
My wife once attended an arrest call to the WRVS. Sadly it was not a fast-bleep to a hot buttered teacake but to one of the elderly volunteers who had indeed succumbed. Oddly the calming environs seemed to imbue the resus attempt with a quiet sense of purpose and focused dedication. Not a bad place for the ultimate repose.
Incidentally, ‘WRVS’ no longer stands for the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service, but exists in a limbo-like state of existential angst as an ex-acronym (so as not to upset their male volunteers), and supposedly now represents the organisation simply as a four lettered tag, like some re-branded FTSE company.
So, when making it to the canteen is but a distant dream, head instead for the WRVS tea shop and as the minutes tick by waiting in line, bask in the warm glow of this selfless community, this embodiment of what’s still good about the NHS – serving and helping others not for personal gain but for its own sake. Scone anyone?