Ward 3 Charge nurse Alex Henderson’s NHS links stretch back for the full 70 years….. and way beyond.
He agreed to join our campaign to celebrate the NHS's 70th birthday (on July 5) and in the course of talking to CHFT Weekly revealed his family’s amazing links to the NHS, from its very early days and even before.
His grandfather signed up for the First World War aged just 15 as a medical orderly and saw action in Gallipoli and in Egypt where he had his appendix out during a sand storm!
After service and still pre the NHS he worked in mental health and then at Buxton Hydrotherapy where England footballer Jack Froggatt was among his patients (see photo). Hydrotherapy became part of the NHS when it was founded in 1948 and despite attempts to get his grandfather to go into private health he stayed with the NHS setting a family tradition.
Alex’s mum, started nurse training in 1952 - four years after the NHS was founded. She is circled on the group black and white photo. When she got married, at 21, nurses had to needed to get permission from the Matron. She worked at Bradford Royal Infirmary and Halifax General and is now 83.
Alex joined us in 1999 having trained at Airedale and working at Wakefield as an e-grade.
In 1999 he joined Ward 1/SAU under Pat Maxfield. Stints also followed on Wards 9 and in Urology at Halifax where he secured his diploma in Urology Nursing from Leeds University.
When urology came back, he came with it to HRI and to another stint under Pat Maxfield. He became a Band 6 and for the past eight years has been a Band 7.
He said: “ I think my Mum expected, if anyone, it would be my sisters keeping up the NHS tradition and instead it’s me. She started her training when I was four and was always talking about her work. My grandfather was very much NHS even though they tried to get him to go into private healthcare. He had an amazing background during WW1 which he never really talked about – only bits and bobs. He was 6ft 3 ins tall so when he said he was the right age to sign up they let him even though he was only 15.”
So after that amazing travel back through time, here's Alex's current thoughts.
How long have you worked in the NHS and what attracted you to it?
I have worked in the NHS for 26 years now. I changed my career path from hotel management to nursing. I had found from personal experience that no matter what walk of life you are from, when ill health strikes, how devastating it can be. I genuinely wanted to care for people and make a difference to their experience at these difficult times.
Why do you think the NHS is special?
From its inception the NHS has been a big part of my family’s life. In fact even before that my grandfather was a Medical Orderly in the First World War, then a mental health nurse and when the NHS started 70 years ago he was a Hydrotherapist at Buxton Spa.
Four years after the NHS started my mother began her nurse training and became a staff nurse in the NHS. I am the latest in this family tradition of nursing and healthcare that stretches back over 100 years now.
What present would you buy the NHS?
The present I would give the NHS is more time. In these pressured times when achievement is often measured by targets and spread sheets I would like staff to stand back and be able to look at and realise what wonderful and compassionate care we deliver to our patients and families, in often very difficult circumstances. We need to be proud of the wonderful profession we have chosen.
**If you've got black and white photos of years ago then please let us share them. It's the 70th birthday year and everyone loves the memories of bygone times. Contact Comms on HRI x5252, x5253 or x5256.