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NHS@70: 'People continue to need care and compassion and to not worry about any cost involved'

NHS@70: 'People continue to need care and compassion and to not worry about any cost involved'
05 July 2018

I started on 1 April 1975 at Broadgate Psychiatric Hospital, Walkington, Beverley. I was met at the reception by the Chief Nursing Officer who took me to Dublon ward, East 5. 

This ward was an ‘elderly’ all-male ward. I was introduced to the charge nurse who immediately took me to the staff room to try on a white coat! “What have I let myself in for?” I thought. I can honestly say that after 43 years-plus I have no regrets. 

I later went on to work at De La Pole Hospital, Willerby. The memories come flooding back every time I go there – and to Cranage Hall Hospital in Holmes Chapel, Cheshire – a long-stay hospital for people ‘with a mental handicap’, as it was called then. 

This background and experience has, I believe, been invaluable to my later work experiences and present-day role, albeit part-time. 

While being in the NHS I undertook two further degrees and other courses, and have had the opportunity to work across the spectrum of mental health, learning disability, older people and children’s services. 

I’ve worked with some excellent staff or all levels and abilities and within extremely dedicated teams. I would never have thought I would have had that opportunity elsewhere and been funded to do it. 

The experiences of being with patients, clients, their families and carers across the spectrum of ages, conditions and illnesses has undoubtedly been an interesting and rewarding experience and, I must say, a privilege to be part of their care and lives. 

I have a great regard for so many carers that I have met. Some have been truly inspirational. 

Having experienced members of my own family being involved in services was a particularly difficult time for me. I was grateful for the staff’s professionalism and support. 

I think a major change, apart from what seems to have been constant change, has been the introduction and rapidity of technology, something which one could never have imagined in the early days. 

I often recall the enthusiasm and commitment of many staff who made the transition from the long-stay hospitals to the community; the belief that one thought that it would be better and more appropriate for the clients. In many instances this has been so. However, there is and always will be a role for hospital care. 

Low points for myself have always been around cost-cutting exercises, staff being put at risk, staff being made redundant as well as the impact and frustration that this can have on the staff and client group. Although it is true to say that in my experience staff always try to achieve positive outcomes for the clients and their families. 

It does seem questionable that staff have to spend hours at a time writing and on the computers with all the paperwork which is required, reducing the effect and time of direct one-to-one care. 

A difficulty which never goes away has been when a client dies in whatever situation and circumstance. It brings home the responsibility and accountability that working within the NHS brings. 

What of the future? I see much more involvement of technology in every domain. Should technical staff sit within community teams? Working from home more, particularly for community staff. Management structures becoming even ‘flatter’. Even the NHS and social care becoming one body. Will this happen? 

Working in the NHS, I believe, has not only been my work but also my education, and one must not forget – and this seems basic but is fundamental - that people continue to need care and compassion and to not worry about any cost involved. 

This, to me, is what the NHS is and stands for. 

Long may it continue.

 - by Alwyn Neadley, Specialist Practitioner, Continuum/Intensive Support Team, Four Winds, Driffield

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