THERE were celebrations across Andover, Basingstoke and Winchester on 5 July as staff, patients and visitors at Hampshire Hospitals celebrated the 70th birthday of the NHS.
Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs hospitals in Andover, Basingstoke and Winchester, marked the special occasion with a series of events to celebrate the NHS and to recognise the compassion, dedication and skill of its staff, which helps to make the NHS so special.
The celebrations started early on 25 June with a Staff Focus Week – a whole week of activities dedicated to celebrating, thanking and recognising staff for all for the wonderful contributions they make to support patients, visitors and colleagues each and every day. GP and TV presenter, Dr Hilary Jones kicked off the week speaking at the Trust’s It’s Time to Talk conference on mental health. Staff were also encouraged to walk in the shoes of a colleague, enjoy a break with tea and cake, find out more about the career development opportunities available to them at the Trust and more, with each day focused around a different theme. Staff were able to enjoy complimentary therapies, try mindfulness activities and enjoy some time looking after their own wellbeing.
On 5 July, the three hospitals run by Hampshire Hospitals were a hive of activity as they honoured the 70th birthday of the National Health Service with ‘street’ parties held on wards and departments, tree planting ceremonies and more. The celebrations culminated in a memorable service at Winchester Cathedral dedicated to NHS staff. The Trust also helped new parents who were celebrating not one, but two special birthdays. Small gifts were given to the first girl and first boy born at Basingstoke and Winchester Hospitals, to mark the special birthday they now share with the NHS.
Commemorative trees were planted at all three hospital sites on 5 July in honour of the landmark occasion and as a way for staff, patients and visitors to look forward to the next 70 years. In Andover, the tree was planted by Alex Whitfield, chief executive of Hampshire Hospitals. In Basingstoke the tree was planted by Elizabeth Padmore with the help of Donna Green, chief nurse and Joy Deadman, who is a governor for the Trust and has also volunteered for an incredible 44 years. In Winchester, Hampshire Hospitals and chief executive Alex Whitfield and chairman Elizabeth Padmore were accompanied by bereavement officer Susan White and orthopaedic co-ordinator Liz Spicer who were both born in 1946. Susan was honoured to take part in the ceremony as she shares a special connection to Royal Hampshire County Hospital, having been born at the hospital where she now works.
Liz Spicer said: “As one of the first ‘NHS babies’, I was delighted to have been asked to take part in the Trust’s NHS70 celebrations. It was an honour to help plant a tree at RHCH, where I have spent a very happy 15 years of my working life – like the NHS, I hope the tree will grow and flourish for many years to come.”
The sustainability team at Hampshire Hospitals have also brightened up the hospital grounds at Andover, Basingstoke and Winchester, including introducing wild flower areas and hanging baskets on each site, which feature messages of recognition and thanks to Hampshire Hospitals’ staff written by colleagues and visitors. These changes aim to improve the biodiversity on site, creating better spaces for staff, patients and visitors to enjoy for years to come.
“Street” parties were held in wards and departments across the three hospitals where staff and patients celebrated 70 years of the NHS with decorations, birthday cakes and more. Some ward staff stepped back in time into old uniforms and created historic displays proudly presenting the history of the NHS and their hospital, with prizes awarded to the ‘best dressed’ areas. Patients were also treated to a birthday sing-along on ward C4 at Basingstoke hospital, when children from Hatch Warren Infant school choir paid a visit to help celebrate the NHS’ birthday in style.
McGill ward at Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester received a very special guest at their ‘street’ party, as they welcomed Pam McGill, widow of consultant physician Denis McGill who the ward was named after. The dedication and energy with which Denis McGill treated his patients is still known, and is something that inspires the staff working in the ward.
Pam McGill presented the ward with a birthday cake in honour of the NHS’ 70th birthday and spent time talking to different staff on the ward about their experiences of working in healthcare.
When addressing the staff who had gathered to welcome here, she said: “It is wonderful to be here presenting this cake to staff to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the NHS, in the hospital that my husband loved and in the medical unit that takes his name. It is marvellous that the hard work, care and dedication, which has always been here and in the NHS, continues.”
Members of staff from Hampshire Hospitals also attended a special NHS70 service at Winchester Cathedral on 5 July celebrating the past, present and future of the NHS, highlighting the vital role that the service has in the community and recognising the extraordinary contribution of NHS staff.
Julie Heyes, clinical site lead for the emergency department at Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester, led a procession of NHS staff from different organisations across the region carrying a copy of part one of the Act of Parliament creating the NHS. Proudly wearing her uniform for the special occasion, Julie also wore the cherished buckle she was awarded when she qualified as a nurse and the cap she wore when working as a senior sister.
Julie said: “The whole celebration was wonderful and to be part of such a diverse procession of NHS staff was fantastic as it really showed what the NHS is about. To be chosen as the member of staff to carry the Act of Parliament was an enormous privilege that I know will stay with me for the rest of my life.
“I am exceptionally proud to work for the NHS and Hampshire Hospitals, and the day of celebrations ending with the cathedral service was amazing so it was an emotional day. I am looking forward to continuing to be part of the NHS family and looking back on today with such amazing memories shared with remarkable colleagues from across the Trust and NHS.”
Elizabeth Padmore, chairman of Hampshire Hospitals also had the opportunity to deliver personal thanks to the NHS. As part of the service, chairs and non-executive directors from neighbouring NHS organisations recited a poem by Michael Rosen, ‘These are the Hands’ which was commissioned for the 60th anniversary of the NHS. Following the recital the cathedral erupted into a round of applause for the NHS and its staff. The Basingstoke Hospital Male Voice Choir also sang a stirring rendition of Stand by Me.
Alex Whitfield, chief executive of HHFT reflected: “It has been a wonderful two weeks celebrating our fantastic staff and the amazing NHS. We are rightly proud that the NHS has provided care to millions of people over the past 70 years, regardless of wealth or background and I hope it will continue to do so for many years to come.”
Elizabeth Padmore added: “The NHS is an institution which delivers outstanding care and we are so proud of the part Hampshire Hospitals plays in caring for our community. It has been a pleasure to celebrate NHS70 with staff, patients and visitors in this special anniversary month, and I look forward to continuing to recognise the remarkable compassion, dedication, skill and hard work of our diverse staff and volunteers every day.”