Trust stalwart reflects on 75th year of the NHS

Date: 05 July 2023

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To mark the 75th anniversary of the NHS on Wednesday 5 July, we spoke to long-serving Ward Clerk Denise ‘Den’ Short, who has revealed her pride in achieving nearly half a century of service and spoken of the revolutionary changes she has seen over years.

Den, from Lordswood, first started working at Medway Maritime Hospital in September 1975 at the age of 16, meaning the now 64-year-old is months away from reaching her 48th anniversary of employment – a milestone she describes as ‘’mindblowing.’’

Den said: ‘’This is my local hospital and I’ve been here more-or-less since leaving school. I feel very proud of my record, despite the challenges that I have faced over the years, but I work with a fantastic team in the Pre Operative Care Unit (POCU) that supports each other massively and is like a family. I can’t really grasp that I am one of the longest-serving staff members – it’s mind-blowing!’’

Prior to her time in POCU, Den held a variety of roles across the hospital including as a theatres assistant where she sterilised and washed instruments, and in the Estates and Facilities Team where she was one of the Trust’s first ever female porters. Den reflects on the changes she has seen throughout the years: ‘’Of course we are much busier now than ever before, particularly at weekends when patients have operations and treatments as normal. Before, weekend work was considered for emergency cases only

‘’The other big thing has been the technology – I am no whiz-kid and I didn’t grow up with computers and mobile phones. On the whole I have managed to adjust but if I have problems I always ask my younger colleagues who are very helpful. I can clearly recall working with pens and paper before computers came in. It was a very different way of doing things but you have to adapt and adjust, just like the NHS has done. I think the technology has come on a lot – people can have minimally invasive surgery and operations with robots now, which is great.’’

On her future plans, Den added: ‘’I am a fighter and work keeps me going – to me I’ve just been doing my job and I’m one little cog in the wheel that helps the NHS care for so many patients. I’m still coping and still enjoying it and I look forward to a few more years yet alongside my POCU family.’’ 

  • Summary:

    To mark the 75th anniversary of the NHS on Wednesday 5 July, we spoke to long-serving Ward Clerk Denise ‘Den’ Short, who has revealed her pride in achieving nearly half a century of service and spoken of the revolutionary changes she has seen over years.