NHS worker's tale of random kindness goes viral

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Anna Brech
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As a time of unprecedented challenges for the NHS, one worker’s story of random kindness strikes a chord with the Twitter masses

The NHS has just come out of one of the toughest winters on record, with overcrowding and public funding cuts pushing many services to breaking point.

No surprises then, that people feel overwhelming gratitude for the men and women on the frontline of healthcare provision, as they struggle to balance huge demand with limited resource.

One woman who felt the full force of this appreciation recently is A&E manager Leanne Ashmead. 

Leanne was in a queue to pay for her breakfast earlier this week, when a woman in front of her spotted her NHS badge. The woman quickly offered to pay for Leanne, so that she could dash off and catch her bus to work.

Leanne, who works at Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, recounted the uplifting moment in a tweet that rapidly gained momentum:

With the NHS facing unprecedented challenges, Leanne’s tale of random kindness struck a real chord.

At the time of writing, her tweet has received nearly 60,000 likes, with many people sharing their gratitude for healthcare professionals on the thread.

“You guys are underappreciated and definitely underpaid. Let’s hope this is the start of something great,” one person wrote.

“What a great thing to do,” another added. “I certainly hope this catches on.We need to show how much our NHS service and the people who work in it are appreciated.”

The NHS is under huge pressure right now.

Leanne says the unexpected offer to pay for her breakfast left her feeling “thoroughly uplifted and appreciated”.

“I was very surprised,” the 30-year-old tells HuffPost UK. “At first I declined her offer, not feeling worthy of her kindness, but the woman put her arm around me and insisted I accept.”

But this isn’t the first time the NHS staffer has witnessed the extent of the public’s support for what she and her colleagues do. 

“I recently helped coordinate a transport hub to organise transporting staff to and from the hospital during the severe snowy weather,” she says. “Seeing a queue of 4x4s queued up outside the hospital, driven by volunteers giving freely their own time and petrol, was another of those moments I just had to stop for a moment and take stock of how incredibly important our NHS is to the British public.”

When Leanne asked the volunteers why they were helping out, “the resounding response was a desire to give something back to all the dedicated NHS staff”.

NHS staff must deal with overcrowding and budget cuts

Leanne wants to highlight the follow-on effect of such kindnesses. 

They give a boost to her and her team, she says, which in turn indirectly impacts “the experience of many patients passing through our hospital ward”.

In 2016, a US doctor wrote a blog post about her experience of the NHS, after she visited an A&E department in Sunderland. 

 “Dear U.K., the NHS is awesome,” began her missive, which urged more people to appreciate the free healthcare service.

Photos: iStock and Getty


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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.