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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.


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.

Carlos Pinto

Carlos is our IT engineer based at Central Middlesex Hospital. Carlos’ NHS career started in 2005, when he came to Northwick Park Hospital to visit his father, who was a patient at the hospital, and bumped into Associate Director of IT Mike Sanderson, who explained how he could apply for a job. 

What’s the biggest change in the NHS since you started?
We’ve really moved on from having very old hardware and operating systems to really very stable and reliable IT – we have tablets now, WiFi, much faster networks, and none of that was there when I joined. Video-conferencing, integrated systems, lots of clinical applications: they all help us work better.

The information that we had about our patients used to be really localised, but now it’s available to all our doctors and nurses, so that they can access it quickly to help make decisions about a patient’s care.

What have you most enjoyed in your career so far?
I really love to be able to help people – this job means that I can combine helping people with my own IT expertise. I really feel like I’m adding value to the way we care for our patients. At the moment we’re rolling our Epro at Central Middlesex Hospital, and I’m really enjoying it. It should help our clinical teams.

What’s your funniest LNWH moment?
I do think we have the best department! Everyone puts their heads down and works very hard, but we’re always up for a laugh. A couple of years ago I wanted to play a prank on my colleague – so I switched round some of the letters on his keyboard. He tried to log in a few times and was really struggling; he couldn’t work out what had happened.

What do you feel when you think of the NHS?
I just think what a great organisation it is. It covers everything, unselfish people, who are unbelievably professional, extremely hardworking, and really diverse. It’s the best healthcare system in the world, I have no doubt of that.

Where do you see the NHS in another 70 years?
I know IT will play a huge role in the development of the NHS over the next 70 years. I think we will definitely become paperless quite soon, and I expect that information will be available on the cloud, with patients able to access their health records from home. Security will be a big, big part of getting that right. And I think that we’ll be able to use IT systems to better support diagnosis, which will hopefully speed up the process for patients so that they don’t have to wait so long.

Rose Amankwaah
Rose is our Theatre Matron at Central Middlesex, who started with us as a student nurse in 1975. You can read more about Rose's history as a top athlete on our Facebook page.

What’s the biggest change in the NHS since you started?
When I was a staff nurse there were fewer meetings! There’s a lot of demand on our time now, which can feel like pressure. But actually, it’s very, very important for patients because governance processes like clinical audit help us to learn and find out if we’re doing a good job. This is really important so that we know that we're working safely. If we do have incidents, we talk about them in depth. It’s not that we didn’t do that when I started, but now it’s more structured, and it’s something we do with every single incident. 

Escalating problems and sharing learning is more a part of the way we work now, and it isn’t just senior staff – the junior staff are all involved too.

What have you most enjoyed in your career so far?
I always wanted to be a nurse, though I didn’t know I’d end up in theatres when I started. The things I love the most are the staff and the patients. I love the look on a patient’s face when they go home feeling happy because their operation went well. And the staff are all happy, motivated, enthusiastic – they always rally round if we need help so that we don’t have to cancel lists. I love working with them, and really do enjoy coming to work.

What’s your funniest LNWH moment?
Working with our elderly patients always lights up my day - many of our older people make wonderful comments about their care, and they can be very funny too!

What do you feel when you think of the NHS?
The NHS is the best. Whatever comes through the doors, we have to make sure that it is safe for every single patient. It is just the best.

Where do you see the NHS in another 70 years?
I think if we carry on working as we are, it’ll still be here! Everyone’s working really hard, and we need to make sure all our staff keep enjoying being at work. I hope we will have found more ways to show how much we value staff. Showing staff how much we appreciate them means that they stay and feel, “I’m doing this well’ – it’s all about being recognised, at the end of the day.

For new staff, I'd say that whatever your background is, make sure you put things in your Personal Development Plan that you want to achieve and then follow it with passion. Team working, flexibility, good communication skills and sound clinical knowledge are all important, but you also have to understand your limits. My motto is - be confident, be focused, be calm, have self belief and be a real part of your team.

Bozena Lutoborska
Healthcare Assistant Bo has worked at Ealing Hospital for the last 13 years.

What’s the biggest change in the NHS since you started?
We were just talking today about the fact that there’s much more training available now – you’re really supported to develop your skills, and it’s much easier to find about courses, as well. The range of training you can do is bigger. In November, I did my Management Level 3 Training, which I really enjoyed.

What have you most enjoyed in your career so far?
I enjoy almost everything in my job! Attending patients is one of the most important and best things – it’s most enjoyable when they’re going home and are happy with their care. Then you feel like you’re in the right place.

What’s your funniest LNWH moment?
We have lots of jokes in the team, and lots of laughter – each week there’s something new that we share. It helps us build a really strong team, a caring team – we actually feel more like a family.

What do you feel when you think of the NHS?
I’m happy I’m here. I would always defend the NHS – I’m proud to work here. It’s so rewarding when the patients are happy.

Where do you see the NHS in another 70 years?
I want to see the NHS on top, providing the best care for everyone. I hope in 70 years, we’ll be able to care for patients even better than we do at the moment – the staff are all so hardworking, so hopefully we can achieve that.

Gary Swaker
Gary is our Principal Technician for Pharmacy Procurement at Northwick Park Hospital. He’s worked with us for almost 18 years.

What’s the biggest change in the NHS since you started?
The ever ongoing push to use technology rather than paper and its use to streamline everyday tasks - although no amount of technology can seem to replace the increasing amount of meetings! 

What have you most enjoyed in your career so far?
The fact that you learn something new each day. It can be a bit daunting realising you will never know everything, but at least it never gets boring.

What’s your funniest LNWH moment?
Over 18 years – too many to mention, and some I couldn’t! I don’t have a patient facing role so seeing colleagues away from their desk and relaxed, conversations can get a bit out there...what would you rather fight - one horse-sized duck, or 100 duck-sized horses…?

What do you feel when you think of the NHS?
It’s all about the people. No matter what, the staff are what makes the NHS. Pulling together in a crisis or under increasing workloads and pressure, we still manage to get it done and come back the next day for more.

Where do you see the NHS in another 70 years?
We will still be here - the NHS provides a unique service which can't be offered by private organisations. The diversity, experience, knowledge and the way we put all of this into caring for people in an organisation this large won't disappear overnight (or 70 years of overnights).

Fran Kenny
Fran is our Receipts and Dispatch (R&D) Officer in Stores working at Ealing Hospital for 22 years. 

What’s the biggest change in the NHS since you started?
The NHS is constantly changing and we need to adapt accordingly. The biggest change I’ve seen is the merger in 2014 when we became such a massive Trust, and overcoming all the challenges that brought.

What have you most enjoyed in your career so far?
The people, 100%. The people I’ve worked with over the years have been fantastic. When I started here in 1995, I worked in Theatres as an Operating Department Practitioner. I then went on to be an inventory clerk, and worked my way up to becoming an R&D Officer. I’ve met many wonderful people along the way.

What’s your funniest LNWH moment?
A member of staff was meant to order 100 cardboard sick bowls, but accidentally ordered 100 pallets full! Two lorries turned up to deliver them and we had pallets stacked everywhere - it took a while to get the company to come back to collect them…

What do you feel when you think of the NHS?
Togetherness – everyone helps each other and works as team. I feel proud to be working for the NHS. It’s a great place to be and I’d encourage others to consider a job in the NHS.

Where do you see the NHS in another 70 years?

I think the NHS will still be here in some shape or form - I hope we can always carry on doing the great work we do caring for patients. 

Kadija Ben Sasi
Neonatal consultant Khadija explains why she’s worked for the NHS for twelve years. 

What drives you?
It can be tough but I love my job and wouldn’t want to do anything else. I’ve liked fixing things from a young age so healthcare seemed a good career choice. I wasn’t wrong.

What I do is also a relatively new branch of medicine, which is exciting. There is great potential for research and we’re currently working on two projects. One is focused on cardiology while the other is obtaining and analysing data from pre-terms up to two year-olds to see how we can fine tune our service. 

What’s the biggest change in the NHS since you started?
We’ve got better at communicating with people and making things more accessible. It’s the little things like text messaging appointment reminders and other automated systems that make a difference.

What have you most enjoyed in your career?
I originally worked here as a locum so the day they offered a full-time position was wonderful. I didn’t want to be anywhere else.

What’s your funniest LNWH moment?
I don’t know about funny moments but there have been plenty of happy ones. I love working with babies and it’s a fantastic feeling to see a 600g baby grow into a boisterous two year-old. I never get tired of that. We’ve got a great team here.

What do you feel when you think of the NHS?
It is there for patients 24/7 year in, year out. That sort of reliability is unheard of in some parts of the world and it is something we should all appreciate. It also provides a supportive environment for patients.

Where do you want to see the NHS in another 70 years?
The introduction of electronic patient records, which would make a huge difference to how we operate. It would be expensive but well worth the investment. Imagine all the paper we’d save.

Ralph Schafer, Practice Lead Healthcare Support Workers

What’s the biggest change in the NHS since you started?
I have seen many changes in the past 22 years I work in Ealing Hospital, the biggest change for me is the change in educational funding for nurses and the upcoming Nursing Associate role. Pre-registration course are all turning into Apprenticeships with many more options to follow the career route from Support Worker to nursing. The future is very exciting!

What have you most enjoyed in your career?
The opportunities I was given; I was always well supported when following my own career pathway and I am now very happy to be part of a fantastic L&OD Team. We all work very hard to ensure staff is supported in their learning and development. It’s great to be able to “give back”. The Trust is my family.

What’s your funniest LNWH moment?
During my A&E days a patient was told by the doctor to only have sips of water. The patient misunderstood and was happily munching away on CHIPS and Water. I’m still laughing at that one.

What do you feel when you think of the NHS?
Home. Work. Family. Life. Career. Health. The NHS is only 70 years young and still going strong. I am proud to be a part of it.

Where do you want to see the NHS in another 70 years?
To be as plastic free as possible. To re-introduce reusable or biodegradable materials as much as possible. Not always easy in a patient and infection prevention settings, but paper drinking straws for patients and staff and wooden, biodegradable stirrers instead of plastic ones are a good start. We must preserve what we have now, and that includes the NHS.


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.