Meet Gwenda Donald, whose career in the medical field and the NHS spans more than five decades! After winning an award as a student in college, she trained to become a medical secretary before starting her NHS career in June 1970 at what was then, Bury General Hospital. Her job involved working for the medical records officer and medical social worker, typing menus for the consultants’ dining room, sitting in clinics of all specialties to take dictation, going on ward rounds to type up notes and as well as joining theatres for operations. Throughout her time, Gwenda worked in a number of specialties from dermatology, obstetrics and gynaecology to ophthalmology and surgery.
She remembers: “We franked our own mail. We had manual typewriters and Gestetner machines to print off typed stencils, - which is why the training we had back then was excellent.” Gwenda became a medical secretary just 12 months after starting her training. Having had her skills and work ethic noticed, she was later asked to join a private practice where she spent the next 10 years until she returned in 1996 to the NHS at Fairfield General Hospital. Gwenda said that in her time in the NHS she felt supported in her career progression with training in all aspects of working in a hospital and medical terminology. As to what she plans for the future, she said: “As I have been a medical secretary/personal assistant for 53 years, I have no career plans but am obviously happy within my role! I have had a lot of thank you letters over the years from patients, making it worthwhile and rewarding.”
"My name is Janet Bent. I started as a student technician in cardiology in November 1972 at Tameside Hospital. I qualified in 1974; stayed there and went to Hope hospital (now Salford Royal) in 1980. Stayed in cardiology. I worked in ECGs and generally any test to do with the heart and the lungs. At Hope Hospital we used to cover the old Salford Royal, Ladywell, and Pendlebury Children’s Hospital. In 1982 I moved to Bury General and when it closed, we moved up to Fairfield where I worked until 2003. I was the Deputy Manager in the Department of Cardiology, but still did a lot of clinical work.
After that I got a job as head of the Department of Cardiology at the Royal Bolton Hospital. I was there for 14 years and then I retired. But I missed this side of the job, the patient contact. So, I started volunteering at the reception at Fairfield General Hospital and doing a meet-and-greet.
I've always said that even though I was in management, I still liked to be with patients. That's what I came into the job to do and that's always been the best part. So, when you come in, I think it's important that you see a smiley face and someone saying “hello”.
Apart from celebrating this year's NHS' 75th birthday, Karen has one more reason to celebrate today...
"I remember the NHS' 50th birthday very fondly because my son was born on that day in North Manchester General Hospital. My husband and I made it into the Manchester Evening News paper as we lived directly opposite the hospital; the title of the article was "Doorstep Hospital". My son was given a silver spoon to celebrate his birth by the NHS which he still has today! A year later I started my first job at the NHS and I am still with the organisation."
Today, Taylor Adam Stansfield, is 25 years old. Happy birthday to Taylor and the NHS!