Today (Wednesday 5 July) marks 75 years of the NHS. To mark this milestone anniversary, NHS staff from across the Black Country who share same birthday with the service are sharing what the NHS means to them.
Sixty-two-year-old Tim Cooper is Chair of the West Midlands Imaging Network and has worked within the NHS for more than 40 years. His first job in the NHS was in 1979 when he trained as therapeutic radiographer and despite ‘retiring’ in 2021, Tim still works for the NHS today. He said: “I remember doing my A-Levels and having to really consider what career I wanted. I had two options, either go into banking or go into the NHS. I knew that I could earn more money doing banking, but I also knew it wouldn’t satisfy me, whereas the NHS would. I’m still so happy I made the right choice all these years later.
“I first qualified as a radiographer in 1982 and after a few years progressed to head of radiotherapy in Shropshire. Radiotherapy is the treatment of cancer with radiation. The thing I loved most about my job was just helping people feel less anxious about their treatment and helping them understand what was happening with their care.
“Over the years I’ve had various roles within the health sector, including national lead for radiotherapy and Care Quality Commission (CQC) head of hospital inspection. I actually retired in 2021, but that didn’t last long, and now I’m Chair of the West Midlands Imaging Network helping all 15 Trusts across the West Midlands improve imaging services for our patients.
“I think that no matter what your role is within the NHS, you are part of one team. If you work at NASA and ask the cleaner what their job is, they will say it is “to put a man on the moon”. That’s because everyone is one team and has one aim, which is the same for the NHS as our single focus is our patients. It’s a great organisation, full of people who work here because they care and want to make a difference.”
Working in the NHS is a family affair for 28-year-old Sancha Snow. Sancha is a HR advisor at Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust (DGFT) and has worked in the NHS for just over a year. She said: “I’ve always wanted to work for the NHS, ever since I was little. My mom works in the
NHS as a radiotherapist, and both my nan and my great nan worked in the NHS as nurses. I grew up around people working in the NHS which definitely influenced me.
“In 2020, I decided to do my master’s degree in international human resource management, and after that, I spent a year working in HR roles. I saw the role I’m in now advertised in 2022 and knew I had to apply straight away, and here I am one year later.
“I would say that no one day is the same, but that’s what makes working for the NHS so exciting. I love my team, everyone is so lovely and friendly, and I can’t wait to see where my career within the NHS goes.”
Lucy Askins is a learning and organisational development facilitator at DGFT. The 26-year-old from Kingswinsford has worked for the NHS for almost four years and said: “I first started working for Dudley Group back in 2019 but in a different role. It was just before the COVID-19 pandemic, which was a testing time for everyone. I wasn’t on the front line but working in a hospital behind the scenes, you definitely feel the pressure. That being said, I still loved coming into work and playing my part. When you join the NHS, you need to expect that it will change.
It’s an emergency service regardless of where you work.
“I really enjoying working for the NHS – there’s so many opportunities, actually a lot more than most people realise. Based on my experience, the NHS is very much a community of people. Everyone makes sure that everyone is getting the best experience, both patients and staff. As a patient, I think we’re so lucky to have the NHS and we can often take it for granted but it really is amazing.
“If I had to sum up the NHS in one sentence, I’d say it’s a lifeline. You may not always notice it, but it’s always there when you need it.”
Forty-two-year-old Bukola Ogunjimi is a clinical support worker at DGFT. Bukola moved to the UK from Nigeria back in 2011 and spent several years working for a charity organisation before joining the NHS last year in 2022. She said: “I’ve always wanted to work for the NHS so when the opportunity showed up last year, I didn’t waste any time, I just grabbed it with both hands.
“My favourite part of my job is working with the nurses on a daily basis. They work so hard every single day and it’s a privilege to work with them. My plan is to eventually do my nursing but I’m taking my time to get there. I’ve already learnt so much in the last 12 months and I can’t wait to see what else I can learn.
“I also love meeting the patients. Getting to know them and being able to put a smile on their faces is the best part of my day. When they leave hospital after their stay, they’re always so thankful and that alone makes it all worth it. I think the NHS is just phenomenal -there’s no other word for it. It’s simply one of a kind.”
Diane Wake, Chief Executive Officer for DGFT, said: “We’re thrilled to be celebrating the NHS’s 75th birthday and it’s wonderful to hear so many inspirational stories being told of the past 75 years from our staff, patients and visitors.
“The NHS is a phenomenal place to work, and here at Dudley we always say ‘it’s something special, to be a part of the NHS’; a feeling that is certainly felt across the entire system. We have an incredibly kind, caring, diverse and passionate workforce, who all go above and beyond for their patients to provide excellent care; and everyone feels a huge sense of pride as we go into our 75th year.
“It’s fantastic to be able to recognise and thank everyone for their years of service, as well as being able to cast our eyes to the future and look forward to the next 75 years and beyond!”
Shajeda Ahmed, Chief People Officer for the NHS Black Country, said: “Naturally, much has changed since the NHS was first founded in 1948, however an enduring constant is that we are guided by the principle of delivering the highest quality of care and treatment to those in need, that is free at the point of access. That is why our NHS is seen by so many as a cornerstone of the social fabric in our country.
“As we celebrate an amazing 75 years of service provided by the NHS, it gives us with the perfect opportunity to recognise and thank the people who make up our workforce and who go above and beyond the call of duty in providing outstanding care daily.
“Without the dedication, professionalism, and commitment of our healthcare people – from frontline clinical staff such as doctors, nurses, and paramedics, to those behind the scenes such as porters, managers, volunteers, and many others – there would be no health service. After all it is our people – patients, public and the staff – that the NHS serves.”