I was completely surprised to be invited to 10 Downing Street to celebrate the 70th birthday of NHS. As part of the invitation, I was asked to reflect on my career and thought I would share this via NELFT Talks. It was a privilege to meet staff from across the NHS at the event and I was amazed to be one of only six staff who were asked to personally meet with the Prime Minister. Must remember to add this to my career highlights so far!
I commenced my general nurse training in October 1977 at University College Hospital. Having qualified as a SRN, state registered nurse, in 1980, I was awarded the Merryfield Palmer Memorial Prize” for nursing skills”
In 1981 I commenced midwifery training but by the end of the training had decided it wasn’t for me and returned to University College Hospital to work as a staff nurse in Care of the Elderly (or psychogeriatric’s as it was then known). This was my love and passion; it gave me daily satisfaction to give such specialised care to vulnerable elderly people. Having received superb training at UCH, my standards were high and I took great pride in introducing student nurses to the importance of the same levels of care. It was important to realise that not every patient would recover from their illness but the care we could give them and their families to ensure a ‘good death’ was just as vital. The ward I worked on was challenging and it was difficult to recruit staff. I became the ward sister in July 1983 and by the time I moved on to my next post in care of the elderly I had a waiting list of nurses wanting to work on the ward. Following this I spent several years working at Whips Cross Hospital as a sister and then manager of the day hospital.
After this, I had a short career break to care for boys. My eldest son, Mark, was born with hydrocephalus and cerebral palsy and required lots of specialist support, my youngest son was fit and well but also had the support of the health visiting and school nursing teams. My experiences with health services were very positive. Mark died when he was 11 and I was approached by a health visitor who knew I was a nurse and suggested I consider returning to work within my local area. I had to undertake a ‘Return to Practice’ course and was placed with the school nurse team to gain practical experience.
I have been working in Redbridge ever since. I was given the opportunity to undertake the SCPHN (Specialist Community Public Health Nurse) training in 2005 and gained my BSc (Hons) in 2006. In 2008 I was the successful applicant in a newly created post of EOTAS nurse (Education Other Than at School). I work with vulnerable young people who receive their education in alternate provisions and also with young offenders. Once again, I have a passion for working with this group of young people. No two days are the same, they give me challenges and dilemmas that if they were my own children would have turned my hair grey long ago! I am now looking towards retirement, but have no doubt that I will remain in this role until that the day I leave the NHS
Highlights of my career so far:
June 1978 – as a student in the obstetrics department, with the guidance if a midwife I delivered my first baby; he was 40 years old last week and we are still in contact with each other. He and his Mother attended my wedding nearly 35 years ago, we have a very special and unique relationship
September 2016 – I was awarded the title of Queens Nurse from the Queen’s Nursing Institute in recognition of my services as a nurse working within the community setting.
July 2018 – meeting the Prime Minister and receiving a long service award from the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.