People's History of the NHS


Portrait of Egla Hunter

My Dad arrived from Jamaica in 1955 and my mother joined him in 1957. Dad was a skilled tailor in Jamaica, but found work in factories in England. My mother worked at a paper press.

Me and my two sisters, Olga & Dorothy joined my parents in December 1966. Dad had acquired his own property in Junction Street, Oldbury. They let a room out to another family, offering support. Everyone got on well. There was a real sense of belonging and community spirit. I remember having an open fire, it was lovely!

I started as a cadet nurse in October 1968, for 2 years. I undertook my main training between 1970 – 1972, which involved rotation amongst four hospitals Moxley, Heath Lane, Hallam & Edward Street.

Once I had qualified I started at the district hospital doing medical nursing and A&E. I left in 1974 to do my Mental Health training. I was motivated to do my Mental Health training as one day a patient came into A&E with slashed wrists. I wanted to understand what had led him to do this. I wanted to be able to help. I worked at All Saints Hospital for several years then returned to general nursing at Hallam Hospital (Sandwell) in 1978.

In 1994/1995 I undertook further training and converted from an Enrolled Nurse to a Registered Nurse.

During my career I have worked in – gastroenterology, stoke ward & rehab. I retired from Sandwell Hospital in 2012. I worked on a heavy ward that contributed to my back problems. I couldn’t do as much as before.

Ever since leaving Jamaica I had always wanted to be a nurse. Aged 7, I was poorly and spent some time in hospital. The nurses in Jamaica were inspiring. In their smart white uniform, the way they handled themselves. The care and compassion they showed me – I knew then I wanted to be a nurse.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my nursing experience. I don’t know anything else!

All photographs copyright of Inès Elsa Dalal © 2019 Commissioned by Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust, 2018. No photographs or text may be referenced or published elsewhere, without prior permission.

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