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July 3, 2023

Bolton’s long-serving staff celebrate 75 years of the NHS

The NHS in Bolton has played a significant part in the lives of millions for a quarter of a century, and as it celebrates 75 years some of Bolton’s longest-serving staff reveal their pride and memories.

Healthcare in Bolton has a long history with the opening of the first public Dispensary in June 1814.

In the time that followed many changes took place before the arrival of the NHS in 1948, and for decades the District General and Royal Infirmary proudly worked side-by-side to provide care for Bolton, before merging in 1994 to become what is known today as Bolton NHS Foundation Trust.

Throughout all that change, and the rapid expansion of services in the 20th century, the one thing that has remained consistent is a workforce that dedicate their lives to providing care for Bolton’s communities.

Amongst them is Teresa Jowett, Deputy Head of Business Intelligence at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, who joined the NHS in March 1986, spending a number of years at the Greater Manchester Ambulance Service, before re-joining Bolton on July 5 1993.

It’s exciting to be celebrating my own anniversary of 30 years working in the NHS in Bolton as the NHS itself celebrates 75 years. My first job in 1986 was as a receptionist on J Block, which back then was a day unit for dementia patients.

“It was around that time we started to use some of the first computers – although admittedly they were nothing like that what we use today. You received slightly more pay if you could use the computer and we had one machine to share with the whole team.

“We used to send case notes as lists through fax machines and we had a courier that did three runs a day between the District General and the Royal Infirmary. It’s fair to say technology has changed everything from how we use data to how we store it.

“I hope we’ve made a difference to patients. In my current role I work with data and I’m very passionate about it being correct first time. Data plays an important role in patient care and safety, so we are a vital resource.

“I love working at Bolton and I feel a strong sense of pride. My family are in the NHS, my husband recently retired from the ambulance service, my son worked on the bank in the Emergency Department, and my daughter works on the clerical bank and is a student nurse on placement here at the moment. It’s part of our family.

“I never thought I’d still be here after more than 30 years, but here in Bolton there is something very unique.

50 years ago, on July 3 1973, Dr Emile Morgan took a flight from Cairo in Egypt to London Heathrow to start a new life in the UK as a doctor in the NHS.

Since then he has given his life to providing care to patients in sexual health, with a focus on supporting and caring for those diagnosed with HIV.

I landed in the UK on July 3, and straight away started working in the NHS, which falls very near to the NHS’ own anniversary.

“I have since spent 50 years serving the NHS, which I am very privileged to be doing. I had my first consultant post at Bradford Hospitals where I worked as a HIV consultant in GU medicine. The 20 years before that I worked in many different disciplines.

“I always knew that I wanted to be a doctor so I am so blessed and privileged to do this job. In the early days of HIV, when the virus was first being discovered, there were tragically thousands of people dying around the world. In the past 30 years we have thankfully moved from it being a horrific disease to one that is far more manageable where we can offer treatment from day one. A lot of work has been done to make sure those with a HIV diagnosis can continue to live a happy life with a long future. Hopefully, perhaps not in my lifetime, it will be the case that HIV will be curable.

“There is so much brilliant work taking place within the NHS to treat diseases. We’re progressing with great research to make sure that life is better for our patients – which is ultimately our aim. The NHS is the envy of the world, and I hope it always continues to be. In my 50 years’ care has improved dramatically, and you can see that people are passionate and ambitious for that to continue. Everybody should be very proud of what the NHS has achieved.

“It’s really difficult to express how wonderful the feeling is when you have been able to care and support a patient. Regardless of the progress we have made, receiving a HIV diagnosis can still be shocking for many people. So to be able to contribute to changing that mind set, talking through what this means and explaining that today we can inhibit the virus so that it won’t cause major health issues, is a reward beyond belief.

“I love my job. Being that support for patients is the best part. When you get home and know that you have helped and made a difference. I have no doubt that anyone working in the NHS has that very same feeling.

The hospital care of children has regularly developed during the NHS’ reign in Bolton, including the introduction of a children’s reading service in 1973, and the opening of a Specialist Children’s Ward at the Royal Infirmary in 1979.

Records reveal more than 21,000 children were looked after on the ward between 1979 and its closure in 1996. The space included the first playroom for children, which one Sister described as “the children’s greatest joy and retreat”.

Mary Howarth, Band 6 Team Leader on Ward E5 at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, has spent nearly 50 years in the NHS having first joined the Bolton General Hospital in September 1974.

I can vividly remember my time at the Infirmary where I spent time working on Barnes Ward, which was male orthopaedics, and also in the A&E casualty unit.

“Casualty used to be one big room at the Royal where people called through to the triage room which had lots of cubicles coming off it and a long nurses station. What stands out for me is the advancement in medical care and treatment. Back then patients could be on traction for twelve weeks, whereas these days they’re off to theatre and in and out of hospital within a couple of weeks in some cases.

“I first started working in paediatrics in the late 1980s and it’s where I’ve predominantly stayed ever since. I feel a huge sense of pride for the area I work in, I quite enjoy the challenges and I feel as though I thrive on them. When you have a child that comes in very poorly it’s always so rewarding to see them go home after they received all the care they need.

“Gone are the days of having to wake toddlers at 6am. No toddler wanted to be woke for breakfast at that time. There’s been a huge shift in how we deliver care and our families are such a big part of it all which makes for a far more relaxed and supportive environment.

“The NHS holds a special place in my heart, it’s home. It’s great to see the new staff coming through the doors, they keep me on my toes, and I would like to think they saw something in me that inspires them.

To read more NHS 75 stories from staff who have given their careers to the NHS, visit Bolton NHS Foundation Trust’s website.

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