I joined the NHS as a student nurse in 1984 (I know I was a mere girl!!) and even though I have dipped in and out of the NHS, it’s still the major part of my career and life really. It’s literally in our blood isn’t it, even those colleagues who have recent working experience of the NHS tell me there is just something about it that can’t be shaken off.
When I first joined the NHS, I didn’t go very far from home. I trained at Barts in London’s which is also where I was born, my grandfather (my Italian Nonno), had a cafe opposite the Old Bailey, so I was literally on the doorstep. He frequently came and delivered sandwiches to all the staff, he rather than I became the most popular member of staff they had! Even though it was only a few miles from home, I lived away from home, no one passes up the chance to live in nurses accommodation specially in those days- some of you reading this will smile and know exactly what I mean! To my family, Barts was their hospital, they felt a connection to it; something they cherished and felt they were part of. I don’t think this has changed much for our communities, think about the struggles to change and adjust services and the oft public outcry about ‘their hospital, their service’, the NHS belongs to us all. Created at a time where the populations’ health was suffering as a result of WW2, set up to be accessible regardless of ability to pay and funded by taxes for the benefit of the nation. Whilst so much has changed (innovation, technology, demographics life expectancy etc) this founding principle still rings true today. It’s this commitment to the values of the NHS that speak so profoundly to me and so many of us.
Nye Bevan once said “...the NHS will last as long as there are folk left with faith to fight for it” and I for one still have lots of that left in me! During my time at the Academy and now within my new role, with not only the South West but also Thames Valley and Wessex and Kent Surrey and Sussex, the thing that makes the NHS at 70 so special are the people. Us and our colleagues, working day in day out, doing the amazing stuff and more importantly the simple acts of kindness that make a different to the lives of many.
So I hope you join me in wishing the NHS Happy Birthday and many more to come!
Take a look at our special #NHS70 newsletter here