People's History of the NHS


Portrait of Anthony (Vince) Bryan

I’m a Registered Nurse who works in the NHS.

My journey through the NHS is one which is very long; I’ve been a (hospital) porter, HCA, band four, healthcare assistant, nursing practitioner.

The NHS has done me a great deal of good because without the NHS I wouldn’t have been able to afford to do my training.

I was one of the first home grown, male nurses in this Trust that has come from being a porter to HCA and followed all the way through to being a qualified nurse.

I became a nurse because I was a porter and one of my nursing colleagues, a manager, discovered me one day and said ‘you could be a good nurse’, and then she explained why she thought I could be a good nurse, and what role I could have in the NHS. She also helped me by finding out about the different courses I could do.

I came from the Caribbean in the early ‘90s and my educational background was not very good; it was not at the standard where I could get into nursing. Through the NHS I could get into many courses which set the platform for me to be able to do my nurse training. As I’ve said, I’ve done many courses, Key Skills 1 & 2 and the NHS helped me while I was doing all of those by still giving me a job, so I was able to study while maintaining my livelihood.

I started my training at the age of forty five and I finished at forty eight. It was great determination to do that because by then you get older and your brain isn’t as sharp as when you were a teenager. But I really appreciate what the NHS has done for me.

Before my life in the NHS began I was a farmer. I used to self-employed in Jamaica. When I came here, I was a farmer. I always look at myself as a person who’s come from being a sprout picker to a nurse, a general nurse. You know, because that’s what I did before I came here, I was picking’ sprout in the field. A good friend of mine said ‘There’s a job going as a porter, you should apply for it’, and I’ve never looked back since then! It has helped me to put my life on a sound footing, for that reason I’ll always appreciate what the NHS has done for me; from a sprout picker to a healthcare personnel. That is for me, a long journey.

Being a staff nurse is sometimes quite difficult because of the many different challenges that you have to go through. Often you’ll have to update yourself with new policies and procedures.

The NHS in this country is one that, shall I say, I really adore! I admire it because I’ve been to several countries and they have nothing like what we have here. A lot of our people, our patients, and relatives haven’t had that experience - they don’t realise that we have one of the best health services in the world.

For me, it has served me well. It has helped me to see the other side of the coin: when, how, when you’re not well, the people who have to work hard to get you back to the best health possible. Sometimes also seeing the worst side of it; when you’re short staffed and you do not have the staff to work with and you have to stretch yourself to deliver the best care possible.

I would encourage anyone who wants to do greater good for their fellow citizen and the world in general to join the NHS to become a member of the NHS in whatever capacity they can!

My story could go on forever but we have to get on and look after our patients, I better go and continue with my shift!

After the recording - rushing back to do his rounds on the ward - Anthony told INÈS ELSA DALAL to include: both of his daughters are nurses.

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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