At this festive time, spare a thought for the NHS and all who pass through their doors

A piece from Roy Lilley – PPA ‘Columnist of the Year’ – Finalist

It’s Christmas Eve.  Blue lights strobe the ramp into A&E.  Inside a stick-thin boy is calling a blonde girl in a miniskirt and crop top, an ‘Effin-Slag!’  She teeters on her heels and lashes out.  His face explodes in crimson.  A&E is a good place to have a broken nose but he decides he’s had enough and legs it, out into the night before the security guard realises.  She continues texting as though nothing had happened.

The orange plastic chairs are full of the ill, injured and bewildered.  In the corner a fat man with a shaved head is being sick down the front of his England football shirt.  As he leans forward you can see, written on the back, he thinks he is Rooney.
The clock ticks on and the TV, mounted high on the wall, announces it is Christmas Day.  No one notices.
Without warning the doors burst open and two paramedics sweep by with a bundle on a trolley.  With a shriek and a wail Tanya announces her arrival.  She is covered in blood.  “Where’s me effin anbag!” she screams.  “I need me phone”.  Under his breath James, the paramedic, says; “You gonna need more than that”.
Tanya is drunk.  Been in a fight outside a nightclub.  She’s fallen to the ground split her head open and, by the way, she is pregnant.  The culmination of the night’s events means she is about to give birth.
Two hours later an altogether different Tanya is sitting up in bed.  She is young, very young.  Someone’s daughter, someone’s grandchild, someone’s girl, but tonight she has been alone.  Alone; except for a policemen, a call centre ambulance controller, two paramedics, a triage nurse, a junior doctor, a midwife, a consultant in obstetrics, a Chaplin and a healthcare assistant.
When they have gone she will be alone again.  Alone with Ben.  He is perfect; pink, with blue eyes and a wisp of blond hair.  He sleeps his way into his first Christmas morning.
I’m not sure where Tanya lives.  If she lives in the west of the town she will have a family; her life’s chances will be good and Ben will go to school, listen, learn, get a job and do well.
I suspect she lives in the east of the town where just a difference of six miles will mean Ben is likely to never see his father, be a handful, dodge school and exercise the whole panoply of the State to make him behave like he was born six miles in the other direction.  Because of where he lives and the start he has in life, will mean he will die 5 years early.
Unto us a boy is born,
The King of all creation:
Cradled in a stall was He,
The Lord of every nation…………