Celebrating 74 Years of the NHS

Celebrating 74 Years of the NHS

On 5 July 2022, the NHS will mark 74 years of service. This milestone is an opportunity to thank the generations of people who have made up the NHS workforce past and present, as well as highlight the exciting and challenging opportunities that a career in the NHS brings.

As the last two years have shown, a career in the NHS can be challenging but it is also hugely rewarding. Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, NHS staff have cared for around 680,000 seriously ill COVID patients, whilst at the same time coming together to deliver the NHS COVID-19 vaccination programme. Now, staff are taking part in the most ambitious catch-up programme in NHS history to help clear the elective backlog.

The NHS offers a huge range of exciting and challenging opportunities for people who are passionate about making a difference, whether you’ve always wanted to work in health or have never thought about it before. The last couple of years, challenging as they have been, have shown the NHS at its best and shone a spotlight on the value of our nursing and midwifery professions and the rewarding careers on offer in every corner of the NHS. You could work on the front line on a ward or never see a patient and still make a difference to people’s lives.

No matter what area of the NHS you join, you will become part of a talented, passionate team of people.

We hear from some of our long service staff who, collectively, have worked in the NHS for over 120 years and who share how much has changed over the decades.


Debbie Bacon, Healthcare Assistant

"There are so Many Happy Memories of Working for this Amazing Trust"

Debbie Bacon has worked for the Trust for 35 years as a Healthcare Assistant. She shares how things have changed over the years and says she has very happy memories of working for this amazing Trust.

“When I first started working at the Trust, we were called nursing assistants, which I think was nice as we had nurse in our title. I started off in learning disabilities as an 18-year-old on a unit that is now Options café at Trust Headquarters, Duncan Macmillan House.

“There were many long-stay patients at that time at the unit I worked in. We took them on holiday, for days out with lots of activities. I remember having to go each morning to a room for clothes and toiletries as no one had their own individual items. My ward sister as they were called in those days, Judy Bland, wrote a book called Forgotten people, because many people she nursed had been in an institution most their lives for having a child out of marriage. Some were in the 70s/80s and had been there from their early 20s. There was no Mental Health Act until 1983, so if a family didn’t want them at home they had to stay in hospital.

“Fifteen years later, l moved to Carlton Ward (mental health) which is now Redwood 1 at Highbury Hospital, then to Rowan 1 and finally on to the Willows unit, where I still work now, but as an activities coordinator. Again, over the years things have changed. We no longer do our notes (kadex) on our knees in the day room, it is all electronic now with Rio, a clinical information system.

What am I proud of?

“The Trust is more open with carers, families and friends now. I developed a carers ward leaflet and booklet that has been used in the Trust, which is something I’m very proud of. I am also very proud to work for a Trust that helps and supports staff to grow and develop both personally and as a team.



Ruth Robinson, Research Compliance Manager, Research and Evidence Department

"I Have Worked with Some Unbelievably Inspiring People"

Ruth started working in the NHS in March 1987 as a receptionist in what is now the Chief Executive’s Office at Queen’s Medical Centre (QMC). She says things were very different back then; manual typewriters and collation of paperwork was done by hand. Ruth shares her experience of 35 years of working in the NHS.

“My career changed when I became the administrator for the Research Ethics Committee, and my love for research began,” explains Ruth. “I was part of the team who estimate QMC’s research activity for the Culyer return which enable a levy top-slice of funding specifically for research. In 2006 I experienced the merger of QMC and City Hospital to become Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust (NUH), at the same time the National Institute of Heath Research was established. I worked dually for NUH and the Local Clinical Research Network (LCRN) for a while and then took on a role solely for LCRN but based at NUH.

“In Jan 2019 I was seconded to Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and was made substantive in June 2019 taking on the role of Research Compliance Manager. Like everyone else COVID changed the way we worked, and I now work remotely from home. 

Why I’m proud to work for the NHS?

“I have worked with some unbelievably inspiring people on my journey in the NHS and learned so much. I hope to spend many more years improving and developing our research capacity for future generations.”



Steve Galpin, Community Psychiatric Nurse

"I feel privileged that I am still working After Fifty Years’ Service in the NHS"

Steve Galpin, 73, is a Community Psychiatric Nurse at Nottinghamshire Healthcare and has spent over fifty years working in the NHS, over that time he has seen and been involved in many changes.

Stephen said: “I have worked with some wonderful caring staff who want the best care for their patients. The NHS has changed beyond recognition from when I started and perhaps I am most proud of embracing change and playing a part in developing services that improve the delivery of care to the patient.”He talks more about his fantastic career below:

“I went to an NHS recruitment centre in Nottingham and thought I would try Mental Health Nursing. I started with much nervousness and trepidation, after the first week I knew it was the career for me.

“I began training as a student nurse on 10 August 1970 at Saxondale Hospital, Radcliffe on Trent which covered the whole of Nottinghamshire

County, with Mapperley Hospital (now Duncan MacMillian House) taking patients from Nottingham City and surrounding areas. Saxondale was divided into male and female sides; a concert hall, library, hairdressing, and various other departments including printing, making the hospital a self-contained community.

“Upon completing training, I became a staff nurse. Promotion at that time was fairly swift. After two years I was promoted to charge nurse and after being a “relief charge nurse”, that is covering for annual leave and sick leave, I gained my own ward. This was a health care of the elderly ward and mapped out the rest of my career. Together with colleagues we looked at ways to improve patient care, researching innovation in patient care and, with support from managers many improvements were implemented. In 1983 I was promoted to clinical nurse manager with responsibility for six healthcare of the elderly wards.

“In the mid-1980s most mental health hospitals were due for closure, moving services into the local community, Saxondale was due to close in 1988. Part of my remit was to organise the transfer of patients to facilities in Mansfield, Bassetlaw and Nottingham General Hospital. In 1987 I decided to move to the Queens Medical Centre (QMC) to open and manage a new ward (A45) for elderly mental health patients. At the time this ward was almost unique and was a huge learning experience for all involved. On three separate occasions, during the period 1987 to 2002, I was seconded onto the directorate management team to cover vacancies also sitting on committees and advisory groups.

“By 1999 planning had started to move the psychiatric wards out of QMC and when A45 was closed I moved on to Highbury Hospital. Discussions had been taking place for some time between Mental Health Services for Older People and Broxtowe Social Services regarding developing a joint service in a new build, Bramwell, in Chilwell. The agreed plan was to have social service residential care, an NHS managed acute organic ward, NHS Day Service and offices for the Broxtowe Community Mental Health team. With other colleagues I was involved in devising working practices between the NHS and Social Services, recruiting staff and implementing practices for our service. Bramwell opened in March 2003, a very exciting time and one that was successful.

“Due to retire in September 2003 I had the difficult decision as to whether to do so or not after just starting this new service. I decided to retire but was immediately recruited to temporarily cover the management of Mabon House, a Day Centre for Young Onset Dementia patients, open for two days a week. Thirteen years later I was still there. I enjoyed being with the patients in the community and again learnt so much. That service was amalgamated into St Francis Day Hospital at the City Hospital, I then moved to the MHSOP day services at Lings Bar Hospital.

“The Covid pandemic has brought changes in older persons day services. Now called Therapy Intervention Service it will deliver organic and mental health groups across the city and county. The team is made up of psychologists and assistant psychologists, occupational therapists, nurses and assistant practitioners. Being a part of this new service, I am still learning so much, equally I can use my experience to influence service development.

“I have had many challenging and stressful periods during my career, I have tried to learn from these times and turn them into positives for the future. I describe myself a pragmatic optimist, (if that makes sense) others describe me as being laid back.

“I have taken a keen interest in nurse training, sitting on committees, taking teaching sessions in the School of Nursing, being a service side rep when reviewing student nurse practice areas. Being with students has given me a tremendous sense of achievement and satisfaction.

“I am often asked why I continue to work. I retain my passion and enthusiasm for patient care and patient interaction and the satisfaction of being part of a team. I feel privileged that I am still working and gain so much fulfilment from being challenged with new ideas and concepts.”


Photo of Steve Galpin Community Psychiatric Nurse





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