Hospital stories help to celebrate 70 years of the NHS in Leeds

Space2 project coordinators Jelena Zindovic (standing) and Jane Morland, try out the new chair which is adorned with memories and tributes to the NHS
Space2 project coordinators Jelena Zindovic (standing) and Jane Morland, try out the new chair which is adorned with memories and tributes to the NHS
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A woman who suffered life-threatening sepsis, is sharing her personal story to help celebrate 70 years of the National Health Service.

Bharti Dhamecha, 63, from Leeds, was taken ill in July 2018 and went into a coma leaving her chronically ill.

She spent almost six months in hospital, chronically ill with an infection in her back and spine, which meant that she couldn’t move her legs or arms, and had to be tube fed.

She said: “Everybody helped me when I couldn’t do things for myself.

“The doctors would come and talk to me and encourage me and they gave me very positive feedback.”

Bharti has high praise for the medical staff from Leeds General Infirmary, St James’ Hospital and at Chapel Allerton, where she received her physiotherapy.

Bharti’s story, and those of other people from both within and outside the NHS, has inspired the creation of a series of doctor’s screens and a chair which are printed with photographs, quotes and embroidery.

Now the exhibition, Many Happy Returns, organised by arts and social change charity, Space2, has recorded Bharti’s story alongside memories and photographs from a cross section of the NHS community, including counsellors, doctors, nurses and an NHS campaigner.

The exhibition will have its final showing at Leeds Central Library from 13 June to 5 July.

Many Happy Returns is part of a year-long project which is working with communities from the east and north east of the city.

Supported through the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), Space2 has been working with local volunteers since last year collecting stories of life and health both before and after the establishment of the NHS in 1948.

Bharti was involved with the creation of some of the artwork as part of the project.

Space2 Community Project Manager, Jelena Zindovic, said: “It’s been a privilege to meet all these people and hear their personal testimonies.

“They all contribute a unique insight into our understanding of the NHS.”

At the end of the project a digital version of the story book, along with other aspects of the project, will be shared through a page on the People’s History of the NHS gallery, hosted by University of Warwick.