Patients whose lives have been saved, campaigners and politicians have all come together to say a huge ‘thank you’ to the NHS on its 70th birthday today.
They hailed it as a beloved institution and something they need to fight to protect for future generations.
Town teenager Alice Skinner, from Clavering, Hartlepool, has undergone 32 operations including getting a life-changing kidney transplant when she was seven.
She hopes to become a children’s nurse to give the kind of care she received to others.
Mum Nicola Frankland told the Mail: “Obviously, we are thankful to the NHS, they have changed our lives.
“They have been there from the start and have certainly gone above and beyond with the help they have given.”
Alice, now 17, came close to death numerous times when she was born without properly formed kidneys and became Britain’s youngest ever dialysis patient.
Her condition affected just one baby in a million in the UK.
But Alice has never let it stop her living life to the full, including passing her GCSEs last year, winning a host of medals in the national Transplant Games, and is now a student at Hartlepool Sixth Form College.
Nicola added it is testament to the care Alice received that she wants to give something back by studying to hopefully become a paediatric nurse.
Also saying thank you is Liz Carroll, from West Park, who says the NHS saved her life when she fought breast cancer.
Liz, 55, has just recently been declared cancer free and is loving life including spending time with her family and three young grandchildren.
In 2013, she underwent eight months of treatment including chemotherapy, a mastectomy and radiotherapy at Hartlepool, North Tees and James Cook hospitals.
She said: “Basically the NHS saved my life, it means everything to me.
“It’s not just the treatment, it’s the after care and the relationship that you build with the staff caring for you.”
Liz also worked for the NHS for 25 years as a GP receptionist and patient liaison officer.
She added: “I have witnessed the challenges and changes and think our NHS is wonderful and we need to fight to keep it. I cannot speak highly enough of it.”
Tonight, people are invited to attend a celebration event for the NHS at Hartlepool Civic Centre.
Starting at 6.30pm it will feature a number of speakers including professionals who work on the front line.
Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, Leader of Hartlepool Borough Council and chair of the town’s Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “The NHS turning 70 gives us the perfect opportunity to thank the extraordinary staff who care for us day in and day out.
“The NHS plays a vital role in our lives and is certainly one of our nation’s most loved institutions.
“I’m delighted to be speaking at a celebratory event in the Council Chamber to mark this significant anniversary and would encourage residents to come along and show their appreciation for the vital work of the service.”
Hospital staff and the public will also mark today’s occasion at the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton, with a tea party from 11am-3pm, raising money for the trust’s charitable organisation, North Tees and Hartlepool Together.
Ali Wilson, chief officer of Hartlepool and Stockton Clinical Commissioning Group, added: “The NHS turning 70 is a great opportunity to celebrate the achievements of one of our most loved institutions, to appreciate the vital role the service plays in our lives, and to recognise and thank NHS staff – the everyday heroes – who care for us.
“We can all play a role in supporting the NHS in this special birthday year, by volunteering, raising money for a local NHS charity, or by taking steps to look after our own health and using services wisely.”