People's History of the NHS


Portrait of Lorraine Thompson

Presently I’m employed as a Continuing Health Care Nurse with Sandwell & West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

I first considered nursing in 1990. At the time I was actually training to become a nursery nurse but I realised that I wanted something more from my job hence the change of career. This really pleased my mum because her desire was always for one of her children to work within the NHS.

My mum worked as a nursing auxiliary for about twenty five years until retirement in the late 1990’s. Mum worked predominantly nights which fitted in well with her roles as mother to five children and wife.

Both of my parents originate from Jamaica. My late dad travelled to the UK in 1956 on a ship called The Artigo. He came from the parish of Manchester, my mum is from Clarendon. Although they travelled separately they have similar memories of the journey. Mum travelled in 1957. The journey lasted forty four days; stops were made in Europe, before docking in the UK. The memories of the journey put dad off any form of water travel for many years. They both settled in in Birmingham and planned to stay in the UK for five years.

Once dad settled into work he mortgaged a property and rented rooms which provided shelter for people that he met in the early years. Within his home a room was used to start a social group for fellow immigrants who were then known as ‘The Friendly Group’. It gave the friends chance to meet and fellowship. Dad encouraged the members to get involved with a rainy day saving scheme. Money was saved each week and then if a member of the scheme needed a loan at any time there were funds available to do that. Dad was involved with the organisation which was known as The Birmingham Community Association in the later years, for more than 40 years.

I was in my mid-twenties when I submitted my nursing application. It included an application to UCAS because I was applying for a place on the Project 2000 training course. It was a new way of training nurses on completion you would have an academic as wells as nursing qualification.

My interview was in the summer of 1991 in Northampton. I remember travelling to the interview with my mum. Afterwards I reflected on the interview with my mum and didn’t expect a positive outcome. The interview panel and community were very different to what I’d previously experienced in the Midlands. However I was pleasantly surprised to receive an offer of a place on the course.

The course was split into two parts. The first eighteen months was called the ‘common foundation programme’ which all students had to complete before proceeding with the chosen branch of nurse training which in my case was general nursing. My academia was completed at Sir Gordon Roberts College of High Education.

There was less practical experience than the traditional nurse training programmes. I actually feel like I missed out on a lot. I didn’t have the opportunity to take charge of the ward in the way that some of my colleagues did. I did it, but under supervision. In the practice area I was always supernumerary.

In October 1994 I qualified as a registered nurse (general) with a diploma in higher education. I always remember attending my graduation ceremony with my parents. I hired the cap and gown, and mum and dad supported me, ‘the proud parents’.

My first job on qualifying was on a male surgical ward at Northampton General Hospital. I was there for six months until I got a job as a community staff nurse in Sandwell. I worked at this level for twelve months before starting district nurse training in 1996. I completed this at Oxford Brookes University and in 1997 I qualified as a district nurse with a BA (Hons) degree.

Following training I secured a position as a district nurse in South Birmingham for two years. In 1999 I applied for a discharge liaison nurse position at Birmingham Heartlands Hospital. Then in 2002 I started career in continuing healthcare. This post has evolved over the years but I still enjoy it as much as when I first started.

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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