Celebrating 70 years of the NHS

NHS70 webpage

The NHS celebrates its 70th birthday on 5 July 2018. 

This milestone is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the achievements of one of the nation’s most loved institutions, to appreciate the vital role the service plays in our lives, and to recognise and thank our extraordinary NHS staff.

Here's what we're doing to celebrate NHS70.

Hospital Open Day

Our third Hospital Open Day will take place at Northwick Park Hospital on Saturday 7 July (two days after the NHS's birthday). 

The free event is open to all and will include interactive stalls and behind the scenes tour of the hospital. If you're thinking about a career in the NHS, then it's the perfect opportunity to see the range of services you could work in, speak to staff to find out what they do, and ask our recruitment team any questions you might have.

Staff Excellence Awards

The winners of this year's Staff Excellence Awards were announced on Friday 23 March, in front of 350 guests at the Hilton Hotel in Wembley. To mark NHS70 a special lifetime achievement award was introduced to recognise the outstanding contribution made by a member of staff who has served more than 15 years in the Trust.  

Microbiologist Dr Sayyed Adnan Aali, who has worked at Ealing Hospital for more than 20 years, was announced as the winner on the night. 

In his nomination Dr Aali’s colleague, Dr Gurj Sandhu, a consultant physician, described him as an ‘unsung hero’, saying: “Dr Aali always goes the extra mile for staff and our patients. He is known and valued by all of our junior staff, consultants and many local GPs. He is humble, kind and always calm and polite whatever the situation. He is truly one of our unsung heroes.” 

After receiving the award, Dr Aali said: “The feeling of knowing that I have been recommended for this award by my colleagues is excellent. I have loved every minute of my time working at Ealing Hospital and that is thanks to my colleagues who have been very nice to work with. I also love seeing and helping patients – it is my passion.”

NHS70 and Me

Throughout the year we are talking to staff about their experiences of the NHS over the course of their careers and asking them what the next 70 years holds for one of Britain's most loved institutions. 

NHS 70 and Me - Dr Cayley

Dr Charles Cayley is a consultant in general medicine and elderly care. Charles qualified in 1970, and started as a consultant at Central Middlesex Hospital (CMH) in 1976. 

After more than four years as medical director for the Trust, he has recently returned to frontline clinical care, where he is supporting the work on our frailty model. 

What’s been the biggest change in the NHS since you started?

There have been three really significant changes. First of all, the technology is completely different to what we had when I started. There were no CT scanners when I became a consultant – they started to come in just afterwards, and they made an enormous difference to more accurate diagnosis. The second big change is that there’s been a huge reduction in hospital mortality. It’s partly due to better diagnosis, but also better treatment: we have a much wider range of drugs to use now. And lastly, we have made great strides in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer – particularly in the last ten years.

What have you enjoyed the most in your career so far?

I do enjoy moving services around, such as rebuilding CMH with a new service model. Closing some of the community hospitals was very challenging, but also very rewarding, because it was the right thing to do to improve patient safety.

But most of all, I’ve always wanted to care for acutely ill patients, and I am looking forward to getting back to the front line – I’ve really missed it.

What’s your funniest memory? 

When we closed the old Central Middlesex Hospital building back in 2006, I drove an old-fashioned Mini down the main corridor…

What do you feel when you think of the NHS?

It’s quite simply the best way of providing care to the population – the most equitable, whether people are rich or poor, disabled or not, or need acute or elective care. There have been some bumps along the way, but it’s been going for 70 years, and it’s been very successful in contributing to people living longer. We thought that people over 65 were old when I started as a consultant – nobody would say that now.

Where do you see the NHS in another 70 years?

I think we will have radically increased the pace of technological change – we will use more technology, and it will work better. I also think that the public will be more informed: the information available to people on the internet will become more accurate, and people will have a better idea of what their symptoms might mean.  That could support a better interaction between patients and the clinicians treating them. On the other hand, we’re likely to see an increase in patients who are overweight, who will need health support, and we need to address the excess intake of alcohol and drugs – although who knows, maybe smoking won’t exist in 70 years.

I think in general, the NHS will help overall life expectancy to increase – genetics show that we have the capability to live to 125, so perhaps we will!

NHS 70 and Me - Memory

Memory Dzvene is head of nursing for integrated medicine at Ealing Hospital. She joined Northwick Park Hospital in 2005 just after qualifying and has worked for the Trust ever since.

How does a typical day start for you?

I come in at 7.30am, go through my emails and Datix reports overnight and then I attend the safety brief at 8.30am in the site office. This is led by the matron of the day and we go through our staffing levels, incidences, acuity and dependency. This meeting helps us ensure safety across all our wards and areas.  We also go through our bed capacity for the day, definite and potential discharges and any issues that need to be escalated. 

Then I do my walkrounds. I walk all my wards on a daily basis, because I feel that if I’m not visible, then I won’t have a good sense of what’s happening on the ground.

What’s the biggest change in the NHS since you started?

I think it would have to be the complexity of the patients. When I qualified, the AAU was very busy, but the type of patients we’re seeing now are those with  complex diseases, and also an increase in social  issues. I do think we’ve got better at managing these complex patients – we’re adapting and facing the challenge.

What have you most enjoyed in your career so far?

I do have a passion for patient care. Everything I do, I think of the patient at the end of it all – it keeps things in perspective. When you nurse a patient, you see them come in at the beginning of their treatment, and then the difference when they leave, and that’s what it’s all about. In my role at the moment, it’s really about being at a level where I can be heard and be an advocate for the patient, whether it’s implementing service improvements or being involved in responding to complaints. It is also about ensuring that staff are engagement and well-being.

What’s your funniest memory?

It was on one of those days, you know, when it’s incredibly busy – AAU was just crazy that day. We got to do our handover, and it was time to go home. We all went to get changed, and my colleague changed from her uniform into her clothes, and she picked up her handbag, said goodbye  and headed for the door. As she opened the door, another colleague called out to her, ‘Haven’t you forgotten something?’  It took her a couple of seconds to realise that she had forgotten to put one of her shoes!

What do you feel when you think of the NHS?

That it’s the nation’s health service – it brings everything together. It’s not just about the patients in the hospital bed, but about the whole nation.

Where do you see the NHS in another 70 years?

There will have been loads of innovation – technology, research, treatments, especially for diseases like cancer. But I also think that nursing will have changed a lot – nursing has been evolving, and if you look at it now compared to just thirty years ago, it’s very different already. There’s an element of sustainability to that – as people live longer, we will have to adapt the way we provide care.

NHS70 and Me - Trish

Trish Kelly retires this month (May) after working for the Trust for 35 years! She started her career in 1982 in Northwick Park Hospital's recovery unit before moving into paediatrics. For the last 31 years she has worked in community services, first as a school nurse and then as a health visitor. Now she provides training for health visitors on everything from infant mental health to developmental reviews as well as supporting student health visitors and practice teachers.

What’s the biggest change in the NHS since you started?

I think it would have to be the style of training. Student nurse training seems to have gone full circle: we’re coming back to the apprenticeship style, similar to how I trained in the 70s. I do think that nursing becoming a degree course has helped to bring standards up, and it gives our profession credibility.

What have you most enjoyed in your career?

Over the last five years, I’ve really loved teaching and training that next generation of health visitors. There’s something wonderful about being able to equip our current health visitors with the right skills and tools to provide really high quality care to families.

What’s your funniest memory?

I was part of a panel interviewing a health visitor for a job.  Instead of asking the question ‘tell us about a time when you were compassionate to a patient’, my colleague asked ‘tell us about a time when you were passionate to a patient’.  We all just fell about laughing and luckily the interviewee also saw the funny side! We did eventually compose ourselves and moved on.

What do you feel when you think of the NHS?

I just feel proud. It’s an amazing institution, and it’s been part of my life for forty years – I’m incredibly proud. Particularly working in the community, I think we offer a really good service to our families.

Where do you see the NHS in another 70 years?

It’s changed such a lot already! I hope it will be more digital – we mustn’t lag behind with technology. Mobile working is just emerging in the community, and it can only get better. I do think it will help make our work easier, and it’ll be safer for families, with better information sharing and having the right tools to hand.

What are you looking forward to when you retire?

I’ve always worked, so I’m really looking forward to a little extra time to myself. I want to explore a bit – maybe take some dressmaking classes, more keeping fit – all the things you usually have to squeeze around work.

Share your memories

We would love to hear from you. If you have any memories as a member of staff, patient or volunteer at our hospitals, please get in touch.

You can email us, call us on 020 869 2235 or share with us on Twitter using the hashtag #NHS70.