Baby Shiloh is only a few hours old. She was born three weeks premature at Coventry Hospital and is one of the newest patients on the National Health Service.

But her first breaths, touches, and tears would test her in a system that had been caring for her for months.

I was born in Central NHS Winter crisis, as hospitals struggle against surging demand and a crippling industrial strike. These thoughts ran through the mind of her mother, Yvonne Amanqua-Maeno, as she prepared for the arrival of her baby.

“It makes you nervous, yeah,” Ms. Amankwa Maino said. “Because you know you’re using this service. You’re going to need this service at some point in your pregnancy. So it makes you nervous. You know, every time you go to the hospital, you think, Are you going to think? Am I going to be the next one?”

The NHS is grappling with flu and COVID cases rising and seasonal respiratory disease picking up. On top of that, she has to deal with strikes by nurses and ambulance workers.

Ms. Amankwa-Maeno has no doubt as to which side she is taking in this dispute.

“The government needs to listen to doctors, nurses and people in the NHS and really work on the problem,” she says unequivocally.

Shiloh and her proud mother are under the watchful eye of midwife Griffiths Channel.

She says her department, as elsewhere in the NHS, is struggling to deal with a workforce shortage. There are other factors as well. Griffiths says her expectant mothers are getting older and have more underlying health conditions.

“We need more midwives,” says Griffiths.

“There are a lot of women who are having children who have a lot of comorbidities and things like obesity. They also have a chronic history of diabetes and high blood pressure, which makes them more vulnerable in early pregnancy.”

Yvonne Amanqua-Maeno and her daughter, Shiloh
Yvonne Amanqua-Maeno and her daughter, Shiloh

Since its inception 75 years ago, the NHS has brought more than 52 million babies into the world.

‘I thought I was going to die’

Edwina Jones was born before the creation of the NHS. Saturday night saved her life.

She is taken to Coventry Hospital with paramedics doing everything they can to keep her alive although the 78 year old grandmother fears the worst.

“I thought I was going to die,” says Ms. Jones.

Mrs. Jones was struggling to get an appointment with her GP, her health was getting worse and then she passed out.

Read more:
Ambulance delays in December left 6,000 people ‘severely affected’
Her mum says the baby, who died 23 minutes after being born, was ‘failed in the cruelest way’ by the NHS
NHS crisis: Elderly man awaits days of agony at home ‘because TV said just call 999 if it’s life or death’

Edwina Jones
Edwina Jones suffered from a heart block before being treated at Coventry Hospital

Her granddaughter called an ambulance, which responded in minutes. Her arrival at the hospital was expected and a bed was waiting for her.

Unknown to Mrs. Jones, she suffered from a heart block and her health rapidly deteriorated. The speed of medical intervention was decisive, otherwise the outcome could have been completely different.

Mrs. Jones sat upright in a chair by her bed, and two operations later and with a pacemaker installed, Mrs. Jones was almost ready to go home.

“I have to pay tribute,” she said, before pausing to reflect on the challenges facing the NHS. “I’m glad we weren’t on strike. I’m glad, because I don’t think I’d be here to talk to you if our lot were on strike.”

The NHS is a lifesaving and welcome service in a crisis. In need of repair, staff and answers.

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