It had been a busy day — several business meetings, a proposal to write, auditions to sit in, budgets to finish. By the afternoon and several cups of coffee later my heart began to palpitate. It’s a condition I’ve been used to ever since my late teens and was normally able to deal with through breathing exercises. Except this time the palpitations wouldn’t go away.
Eventually my business partner insisted I go home and rest. The palpitations continued all through my drive home from Clerkenwell to Highgate. I began to worry, thinking the worst, thinking of what would happen to my family of two small children if anything happened to me. As I passed the Whittington I stopped the car and went into A&E, told them why I was there and their formidably efficient heart monitoring system switched into overdrive.
I was whisked up to have an ECG, down again to be put onto a monitor and within half an hour was seeing a top heart consultant. My story has a happy ending, but I often wonder what might have happened had I had to get to the Royal Free that day instead of having the Whittington on my doorstep, and shudder at the prospect. And for many, getting to the Royal Free is no easy journey.
The Whittington A&E is a lifeline to many thousands of people to whom life has not been kind. It provides a service to some of the poorest people in Western Europe. It deals with unimaginable human problems day in and day out. It is a vital local resource which I for one will fight ceaselessly to keep open.