‘NHS is very different to 1948 when I joined’

Retired nurse, Joan Grimshaw, 87
Retired nurse, Joan Grimshaw, 87
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Joan Grimshaw was a raw recruit when she entered nursing with the NHS at the age of 18.

Today, the 87-year-old great grandmother can look back on her career of caring with fond memories.

NHS 70

NHS 70

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But the current state of the service leaves her saddened.

And she blames the ‘rot’ of privatisation for creeping into and crippling an organisation she was happy and proud to serve.

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Read more at: https://www.lep.co.uk/news/health/nhs-at-70-they-gave-me-an-extra-20-years-of-life-1-9098329

“I still goes for nights out with the casualty staff once a month,” said Joan, who lives in New Longton.

Joan Grimshaw was a raw recruit when she entered nursing with the NHS at the age of 18.

Joan Grimshaw was a raw recruit when she entered nursing with the NHS at the age of 18.

“They now complain about it and say ‘you wouldn’t like it now, it’s awful.’ They’re all unhappy.”

Joan, who retired from Royal Preston Hospital in 1995, reflected on happier times.

“I lived in Morecambe at the time in 1948 when I was 18,” she said.

“I applied to do my training at Lancaster Infirmary, which was the nearest, but went to the old PRI (Preston Royal Infirmary)and got through my training and everything, which was very, very strict and we all had to live in. You had to give up your social life.

Joan Grimshaw was a raw recruit when she entered nursing with the NHS at the age of 18.

Joan Grimshaw was a raw recruit when she entered nursing with the NHS at the age of 18.

“You know, we didn’t mind really.

“We got one evening a week off at 5pm, but had to be back by 10pm, with the night sister checking if you were in.”

She continued: “There was no school of nursing then. We just had two months of learning all about things then we were on the wards as junior nurses and they had to give us time off to have lectures, not like now where they all go to university. We had to look after patients straight away.”

Joan left to get married in 1952, had two children and returned to nursing

Richard Dewhurst

Richard Dewhurst

She worked for 34 years, all of them in the A&E department.

“When I was coming up to 60 they asked me if I wanted to stay on until I was sixty five. I said yes, because I loved it.”

Joan, who moved up the ladder from student to staff nurse to senior sister in casualty, said she was “really cross” when they got rid of their frilly caps.

But that was nothing compared to the changes that were to come.

“It was going downhill in my opinion,” she said. “I just can’t believe what’s going on now. I think the privatisation caused a lot of harm because they were making the decisions about what equipment we could have.

“They were running the show, yet they were non-clinical people.

“Non-clinical people on vast salaries making non-clinical decisions.

“I’m disgusted. When it was privatised - that’s when the rot set in.”

Richard had one of first NHS operations

A retired salesman from Preston was one of the first people to have an operation on the National Health Service.

Richard Dewhurst, who is now 76, was six years old when he had the surgery on his leg.

“All I remember was that a big brown mask covered my face and the chloroform,” said Richard, who spent his working years as a food rep. “I was frightened to death.

“I was six and a half at the time. It was July 1948. I had Osteomyelitis in my leg.

“I was on the operating table at midnight. My thigh bone was taken out and scraped and then put back in again. They thought I had got a germ in my leg crawling round on the carpet. In those days we didn’t wear jeans.

“Another hour and I could have had my leg off it was in such a bad state.

“It was one of the first operations to be done on the NHS.”

The NHS was launched on July 5, 1948 by health secretary at the time, Aneurin Bevan, at Park Hospital in Manchester. Today it is known as the Trafford General Hospital.

Osteomyelitis is a bone infection. Richard had felt lethargic and was throwing up regularly in the six months before his parents discovered what was ailing him.

“I was very grateful,” Richard added. “My mum and dad were worried that they might have to get out a second mortgage on the house to be able to pay for the operation.

“I have had no trouble with that leg since then and I’ve been a football referee and done a lot of jogging.

“The did the operation at the old Preston hospital (PRI) which was on Deepdale Road. He was a Mr Garden. His father was Graeme Garden of The Goodies.”