Today we celebrate 70 years of the NHS. There are many people involved and many to thank. The obvious front line staff are the doctors, nurses, health care assistants and various staff that support operations. There’s too many to mention!
Over the years, I have been lucky enough to have been invited to follow NHS staff and their activities. Thank you so much for those opportunities. We’ve seen nurses improvise a Xmas tree to help lift the spirits of patients on the ward. We’ve seen our Colne & District Nurses literally doing all sorts (MND fundraising, Christmas cards to us etc etc.). We’ve followed them on 30 mile walks, covered cheque presentations, staff leaving, multiple events – even at local TV stations. They’re literally everywhere! We’ve seen nurses go to work on their days off to help their fellow staff e.g. for Nurses Day. Yep, their day off … NHS staff are very close to each other and will always offer support to each other. Of course, delivering cakes to the whole hospital on Nurses Day is always welcomed.
Personally, I’ve been involved with the NHS pretty much from birth. As a youngster I lived at Burnley General Hospital and am always willing to help out our NHS staff when they ask. My own personal history with the NHS starts with my dad, Dr. Alam.
Dr. Alam, a well known local Doctor in Colne and he originally signed up to study Medicine at Dow Medical College, Karachi back in 1954. In those days, Doctors were required to take a Hippocratic Oath and it was considered a big deal – the cornerstone of their profession. In the 1960’s there was a massive push to attract qualified & quality staff into the NHS. The British Government sent officials to various countries in order to achieve this goal. One area targeted area for recruitment was the Indian Sub Continent. In answer to the British plea for staff to fulfil the needs of the expanding NHS service, Dr. Alam moved to England. Here you see him circa 1967, outside the Doctors Residence at Burnley General Hospital.
Back in those days, there was a pecking order for jobs, roughly as follows. If a job came up the English person would get it first, followed by the Scot, the Welshman, the Irish, the Pakistani, the Indian, the Sri Lankan, the West Indian and then the African. That’s how it was. However, there was the British promise of a better life, more opportunities for hardworking people and British Nationality.
The Doctors Residence at Burnley General Hospital has long been demolished and the Urgent Care facility now stands in its place.
Dr. Alam used to tell me that he arrived with £5 in his pocket and the clothes that he wore. That’s pretty much it. At his first interview, he arrived 15 minutes late and soaked to the bone (I don’t think the rain was mentioned beforehand!). The interviewing consultant, who was Jewish, gave him the job and personally loaned him some money to buy a raincoat and a packet of cigarettes. Dr. Alam was forever grateful to this gentleman, paid him pack as soon as he got his first wage and never forgot his generosity. Now folk often talk about the animosity between Jews and Muslims, but in practice, in real life, the media hype does not entirely ring true. That’ a small glimpse into the close ‘family’ nature of NHS staff.
After a number of hospital positions, Dr. Alam took up a G.P. post in Colne and he served our local community as a G.P. until he retired. In those days, being a G.P. was not restricted to the Doctor … much work overflowed into the family too.
There are perks for living in the hospital as a youngster. Here you see me with student nurse Catherine! So, it looks like I was introduced to loving our NHS staff from an early age.
At one point, I did try to track his lady down – however was completely unsuccessful.
There has been a policy of photographing the student nurse intakes for many years, although I’m not sure the practice is continued these days.
I remember lots of Hospital parties too – parties which just wouldn’t be allowed these days. Those who have been fortunate enough to experience them will understand my meaning and why I can’t really go into much detail. Suffice to say they were epic!
Burnley General, like many hospitals, has gone through many changes over the years. NHS Staff are disrupted and often moved about during these periods (even between hospitals within the Trust).
We’ve seen the demolition of the Doctors Residence, workhouse, Culpen House, Pathology Labs etc. More to be demolished too, but it’s not all bad news … often, new specialist units are built. Anyway, I could go on and on and on about our NHS staff and service, but I’ll leave you with a few more pictures which tell their own story.
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