Your NHS stories

Your NHS stories banner photo representing staff and volunteers from across the NHS to celebrate the NHS's 75th anniversaryThe NHS employs staff from all over the world and 350 different careers. As well as this, volunteers of all ages and backgrounds make a huge and often unseen contribution to the NHS.

Here we introduce you to just a small number of the people who make the NHS what it is:

Staff

  • Lily Onoh – An emergency department matron explains how she started as a healthcare assistant and what motivated her to become a matron.
  • Louraine Macaludos – A healthcare support worker tells us why she chose to work for the NHS.
  • Dr Bukola Olomolaiye – A GP describes his role and what he find most rewarding about being a GP.
  • Davinia George – As Head of Nursing and Planned Care, Davinia explains what she enjoys most about her role covering seven sites across Sandwell.
  • Dr Tehmina Rahman – A GP describes the joys of looking after families across generations.
  • Dr Sommiya Aslam – A GP partner and Vice Chair of Sandwell Local Commissioning Board, Sommiya tells us about the wide range of opportunities the NHS has offered her.
  • Olivia Salem – A health advisor explains what she has learnt from the her role in the NHS.
  • Paul Purvis – A paramedic tells why he chose to work the NHS and why he thinks the NHS is “the greatest institution in this country”.
  • Grace Dickinson – A newly qualified paramedic explains how the NHS is the best environment to make a positive difference.
  • Chris Kirkbride – A paramedic clinical team leader tells us how his role offered him the perfect level of challenge after leaving the army.
  • Tanith Ellis – A general manager explains what she enjoys most about working in paediatrics and neonatal services.
  • Dr Alison Tree – A consultant clinical oncologist writes about enjoying being part of the global community making progress against cancer.
  • Sarah Adomah – A lead breast clinical nurse specialist on her huge achievement: launching lightweight, fabric breast prosthetics in a range of skin tones for the first time in the NHS.
  • Shaan Meeda – A practice retention midwife explains how supporting newly qualified midwives in her job has a massive impact on the experience of the patient.
  • Ricky Yung – A domestic assistant explains how important it is to keep all public areas of the hospital spotless.
  • Dr Mark Roland – a respiratory consultant on his varied career after 30 years in the NHS.
  • Bev Longhurst – A senior research nurse on meeting new people and being able to bring clinical research into the community.
  • Helen Wakefield – A clinical lead describes the joy of each day being different in the NHS.
  • Susan Burton – A deputy chief nurse tells us what motivated her to join the NHS.
  • Jillian Wallis – An associate director on driving forward innovation and improvement in the NHS.
  • Samantha Glasper – A targeted lung health check administration lead and data quality analyst tells us how rewarding it is to see the difference your work makes.
  • Prince Neil Songsong – A senior clinical research practitioner tells us the skills he’s learnt through the NHS.
  • Pauline Joyce Aspa – A research nurse on moving from the Philippines to the UK for the NHS.

Volunteers

  • Karen Weites – A volunteer explains how helping out makes her feel valued.
  • Jenny West – An emergency response volunteer tells us the opportunities she has had since volunteering.
  • Sarah Leigh – A butterfly volunteer explains how rewarding it can be to support and advocate for patients and families in difficult times.
  • Martin Bryan – A shuttle buggy driver writes about how his volunteer work reduces stress for patients and staff.
  • Adam Brogden – An emergency ambulance crew member with St John Ambulance on how he can give back to his community through volunteering.
  • Andy Booth – An emergency department patient companion explains what motivated him to volunteer.
  • Ali Macit – A patient experience volunteer on how his role has boosted his communication and interpersonal skills as an aspiring medic.
  • Sumia Mohamed – A St John NHS cadet tells us how the programme has helped her narrow down the career she wants to pursue in the NHS.
  • Dan Sambell – A radio presenter tells us about the power of music in brightening up a patient’s stay.

Staff

Photo of Lily Onoh working in a hospital holding a clipboard and wearing a face maskLily Onoh

Emergency Department Matron, North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust – London.

When did you start in the NHS?

In May 2010, as a newly qualified nurse. Before that, I was a healthcare assistant, working through an agency, alongside my studies to become a nurse. I did most of my student placements at North Middlesex University Hospital and, when I graduated, I joined the emergency department (ED) as a newly qualified nurse. I have since worked my way up to become ED matron.

Why did you choose to work in the NHS?

When I was a teenager, my younger sister had appendicitis, and she was treated in Royal London Hospital. The nurse who looked after her was wonderful, and I decided there and then, aged 16, that I was going to be a nurse like her.

Describe what you do in 100 words

As matron my role includes looking after staffing, patient experience and liaison, making sure we comply with regulations and standards, safety – everything that makes the ED what it is. Recently, because it’s so busy, I’ve spent lots of time on clinical work. Being matron means balancing lots of different parts of nursing.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

Definitely the people. The team I work in – clinical staff, operational colleagues, and support services – we all support each other. It’s hard, especially recently because we’re so busy, but I do love my job. I also enjoy role-modelling what hard work and kindness can achieve – I want younger people to be able to look at me and think ‘I want to do that’.

What would you say to someone thinking about a career in the NHS?

You have to be passionate about people. It’s not for the faint hearted, but it’s definitely rewarding.

How would you describe the NHS in one word?

Multidimensional – the more you find out about it, the more there is to it.

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Photo of Louraine MacaludosLouraine Macaludos

Healthcare Support Worker, North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust – London.

When did you start in the NHS?

I started working in the NHS in 2011. I first joined as a healthcare support worker in Whipps Cross Hospital and now I do the same at North Middlesex University Hospital. I joined North Middlesex University Hospital in February 2014 and I love working here as I live in the local area, and I have a brilliant manager and colleagues.

Why did you choose to work in the NHS?

I have always worked and enjoyed looking after and caring for people. We get to know them personally and you can see every day the good that you do for them. It is fulfilling seeing patients get better and hearing from their families of how thankful they are is a good feeling.

Describe what you do in 100 words

My job is to assist the nurses every day. I give the best care to the patients and work in a team. In my role, having good teamwork is so important. I help patients with their personal care, hygiene, food and nutrition and more.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I love caring for people. You can see how grateful they are and how much they appreciate all the little things you do. It doesn’t matter what job you do or what role you play, you’re appreciated by patients and colleagues.

What would you say to someone thinking about a career in the NHS?

You should join. It’s like one big family, the workforce is really supportive. I would highly recommend it. I enjoy going to work every day. It helps me provide for my family but also still be a mum.

How would you describe the NHS in one word?

Incredible!

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Photo of Dr Bukola OlomolaiyeDr Bukola Olomolaiye

GP, Coalway Road Surgery – Wolverhampton, West Midlands.

When did you start in the NHS?

2010.

Why did you choose to work in the NHS?

The NHS has given so much to my family and me. I was inspired by those that work within it growing up and so the opportunity to be like them and have an impact on my community is what motivated me to work for the NHS.

Describe what you do in 100 words

As a GP, I have the privilege of caring for people from not long after they are born right through to the end of their lives. Working in the NHS, I get to share those moments with people from every imaginable background, meeting people that I would never normally meet along the way. Building relationships with these patients based on trust and an ability to provide them with the care that they need rather than how much money they have is one of the principles that makes me most proud to be a GP in the NHS.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I enjoy building relationships with patients and colleagues over time. I find this is the cornerstone to providing good quality care in general practice and it is the most rewarding aspect of my job.

What would you say to someone thinking about a career in the NHS?

I would say to seize the opportunity to work in an organisation where you will be challenged but also have the chance to see the benefits of your hard work.

How would you describe the NHS in one word?

Resilient.

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Photo of Davinia GeorgeDavinia George

Head of Nursing and Planned Care, Your Health Partnership Primary Care Network – Sandwell, West Midlands.

When did you start in the NHS?

1992.

Why did you choose to work in the NHS?

I am one of those people who just always wanted to be a nurse. It is all a bit cliché, but I was attracted by the opportunity to work with patients on an individual basis and make a small difference to those who felt unwell as well as to be a part of something that offered hope, healing and support.

Describe what you do in 100 words

I am Head of Nursing and Planned Care for a GP practice covering seven sites across Sandwell (also known as Your Health Partnership Primary Care Network). I lead the general practice team, so I am responsible for the rotas, recruitment and ongoing development and quality of that team. I am also responsible for ensuring that all patients who have a long-term condition are offered regularly reviews, as well as offering vaccinations such as flu and Covid vaccines.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I genuinely love the team of people I work with. They are dedicated to providing the best possible care for our local population, even when it can be very challenging.

How would you describe the NHS in one word?

Priceless.

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Dr Tehmina RahmanPhoto of Dr Tehmina Rahman

GP – Sandwell, West Midlands.

When did you start in the NHS?

2006.

Why did you choose to work in the NHS?

Having worked in healthcare systems in other parts of the world, I realised that the NHS was hugely unique in striving to provide healthcare access to people on an equitable basis regardless of their background – this resonated with me as this was one of the major drivers for me to become a doctor.

Describe what you do in 100 words

I wear several hats now, but my main role is a GP. I am a GP partner at Tame Valley Medical Centre and I am responsible for providing healthcare services to over 4,500 people in the local area.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I have been working in the same GP practice for 12 years and take pride in knowing my patients as individual people. The children I saw 12 years ago are now young adults, and the young adults are now parents and I see their children – this cycle carries on and it is this continuity of care that I enjoy the most.

What would you say to someone thinking about a career in the NHS?

It is hard work but if you choose a field you are passionate about, then it is definitely rewarding. I understand the immense pressure we all are under at the moment, but what keeps us going is the incredible difference we can make to the lives of the people around us.

How would you describe the NHS in one word?

Lifesaving.

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Dr Sommiya AslamPhoto of Sommiya Aslam

GP partner and Vice Chair of Sandwell Local Commissioning Board – Sandwell, West Midlands.

When did you start in the NHS?

2007.

Why did you choose to work in the NHS?

I wanted to gain satisfaction in knowing that I am caring for people from all backgrounds – regardless of age, gender, cultural background, or state of health. I was aware that if I joined the NHS, I could choose different fields of work and advance my skills in general practice and leadership.

Describe what you do in 100 words

I am a GP partner. I review patients of all backgrounds regarding their health concerns. I treat a whole range of illnesses, provide health screening and advice. My job can often involve long hours, dealing with many different patients and multi-tasking lots of priorities, but I can’t think of anything more rewarding. I also teach medical students – the future workforce of the NHS – which is a great passion of mine. In addition, I am the vice chair of the Sandwell Local Commissioning Board, which gives me the opportunity to address the wider care needs of my local population.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I enjoy general practice as I feel I am making a real difference to people’s lives. The NHS is continuously evolving to improve the care we deliver to our patients: no day is ever the same.

What would you say to someone thinking about a career in the NHS?

It is one of the most rewarding careers, knowing you are helping others in need and contributing to their health and wellbeing. There are so many opportunities in the NHS to learn new skills and advance your career.

How would you describe the NHS in one word?

Dynamic.

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Olivia SalemPhoto of Olivia Salem

Health Advisor, Emergency Operations Centre, North East Ambulance Service – Newcastle upon Tyne.

When did you start in the NHS?

January 2020.

Why did you choose to work in the NHS?

I wanted to be able to help the community when they need it most. I feel it’s important to care and look out for other people and ensure they know there is always someone to call who will listen and support, even in the most trying times.

Describe what you do in 100 words

My role includes a wide variety of calls. I can take 111 calls, 999 calls, urgent jobs, hotline calls and advice calls from colleagues, all in the same shift. My job is to ascertain the most important details of the patient who is calling, including the address of the emergency and the exact details of the situation to ensure I can get the most appropriate response as soon as possible. I speak with members of the public, healthcare professionals and other emergency service employees every day who are all supporting the local and wider communities.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I enjoy being able to help others when they need it most. I’ve learnt a lot about myself and I know it has allowed me to become more resilient and gain a more in-depth understanding of the world we live in and the effects of decision making along the way.

What would you say to someone thinking about a career in the NHS?

Ensure you care naturally about other people and their wellbeing, and that you feel passionate about making a difference.

How would you describe the NHS in one word?

Godsend.

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Photo of Paul Purvis standing in front of an ambulancePaul Purvis

Paramedic, North East Ambulance Service – Sunderland.

When did you start in the NHS?

June 2017.

Why did you choose to work in the NHS?

I choose the NHS – and the ambulance service – to help people in their time of need, whatever that need may be. Those of us that work for the NHS are very privileged and fortunate to work within the greatest institution in this country, one in which as a nation we should be very proud and grateful for.

Describe what you do in 100 words

The day-to-day role of a frontline paramedic working on a double crewed emergency ambulance is varied and you never know what’s around the corner. The day starts with some basic checks to ensure vehicle readiness, swiftly followed by being allocated to a 999 call. The incidents attended could literally be anything, from a patient with chest pain, to someone struggling for breath, to cardiac arrest, requiring immediate life-saving interventions.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

The best part about being a paramedic is the ability to help people in many ways, from the smallest of gestures to the life-saving treatments. There is no greater privilege in life to help others in their most desperate times and be part of the team that can save the life of another.

What would you say to someone thinking about a career in the NHS?

Do it, it isn’t always easy but the job satisfaction at times is second to none. We work alongside the most caring, compassionate, and talented colleagues without whom the NHS wouldn’t be the NHS.

How would you describe the NHS in one word?

Astonishing.

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Photo of Grace Dickinson standing beside an ambulanceGrace Dickinson

Newly Qualified Paramedic, North East Ambulance Service – Sunderland.

When did I start the NHS?

January 2022.

Why did I choose to start in the NHS?

As a newly qualified paramedic, I am passionate and take pride in providing my patients with high quality care. The NHS is the best environment to make a positive difference to the lives of our patients and to give back to the community.

My passion stemmed from watching the healthcare professionals care for my late brother who suffered with cerebral palsy. I witnessed first-hand the high-quality care that doctors, nurses and paramedics provided my brother to enhance his quality of life, support my family and ease pressure from my parents. As a family, we are extremely grateful for the NHS, and I hope I can emulate this experience for my own patients and their relatives.

What do I do?

There is no ‘typical’ day as a paramedic. Every day, I’m required to use my judgement and skills to assess a patient’s condition quickly and thoroughly and, at times, make life-saving decisions. One of the best parts of the job is meeting new people from all walks of life, offering support, advice and being a friendly face to help improve someone’s day. Work is very varied as a paramedic, and each day brings a new challenge, from delivering babies to resuscitating patients. Some days are great, others can take a toll. But the good days outshine the bad, which is what keeps me passionate!

What do I enjoy most about my role?

The ambulance service is a very fast-paced environment. No two days are the same, you must use your initiative and learn a lot on the job. It’s a steep learning curve, but I work with a fantastic and experienced team which has accelerated my learning and made the experience enjoyable.

I consider it a privilege to be welcomed into people’s homes when in uniform, no matter the hour of day. This career has provided me with a diverse skillset and has helped round me as an individual. I am very excited to continue this rewarding career path and see where it takes me.

What would I say to someone thinking about a career in the NHS?

Working within the NHS, you will without a doubt make a big difference to the lives of your patients by doing even the smallest things. Not only this, every day you are surrounded by highly skilled, amazing and like-minded people, who all combine to form an exceptionally talented team all with the same goal; to provide high quality, patient-centred care. The NHS provides an opportunity to grow personally and professionally. You will be working in an exciting, forward thinking, and fast-moving environment. There’re over 350 careers in the NHS, a career to suit everyone, which all come with tangible benefits and so many avenues of progression.

How would you describe the NHS in one word?

Committed.

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Photo of Chris Kirkbride standing at the back of an ambulanceChris Kirkbride

Paramedic Clinical Team Leader, North East Ambulance Service – Sunderland.

When did you start in the NHS?

2014.

Why did you choose to work in the NHS?

When I left the army I knew I needed a new challenge, I wanted to work for an organisation that offered stability, close to my family and in a job that offered a sense of satisfaction knowing I was making a difference caring for people in my community. This is a rewarding career with great opportunities for development and progression.

Describe what you do in 100 words

I am very honoured and fortunate to lead an amazing team of paramedics, technicians and emergency care assistants. I currently respond to 999 incidents where an operational command presence (ie senior person) is required or where direct clinical support is needed.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I enjoy seeing the development of my team, supporting them through the good times and the bad.

What would you say to someone thinking about a career in the NHS?

It isn’t an easy job, it’s very demanding and challenging. However, if you are passionate about making a difference, the NHS offers opportunities for everyone no matter what your interests, skills or qualifications. You will become part of a talented and dedicated team of people committed to providing the best care for patients.

How would you describe the NHS in one word?

Selfless.

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Photo of Tanith EllisTanith Ellis

General Manager, Children’s Services, Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

When did you start in the NHS?

1985.

Describe what you do in 100 words

I am the general manager leading children’s services which includes paediatrics and neonatal services across Luton and Dunstable, and Bedford Hospitals. I am part of a leadership team for the two services with a Head Nurse and clinical directors. I have operational accountability for the safe and effective provision of inpatient and outpatient care, as well as strategic responsibility for children and adolescents across the service reporting directly to the leadership team. The role is challenging but extremely rewarding.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

The variety and reward of working with a dedicated team providing such an essential role supporting children from birth.

What would you say to someone thinking about a career in the NHS?

Take the opportunity. It has so much to offer in terms of learning and development.

How would you describe the NHS in one word?

Amazing!

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A photo of Alison TreeDr Alison Tree 

Consultant Clinical Oncologist, The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust – Sutton, South London.

When did you start in the NHS?  

I started work as a junior doctor in the NHS in 1998 and my first job was in orthopaedic surgery.  

Why did you choose to work in the NHS?  

Having completed six years at medical school, I had been inspired by many wonderful doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals who I had learned from. I wanted to be like these people and care for those going through a tough time with their health. I also felt a great debt to those who had given me the chance to become a doctor and to those who had given up their time, mostly for free, to train me.  

Describe what you do in 100 words 

I treat prostate cancer, which is a spectrum from very indolent (just needs monitoring) to life-limiting (needs aggressive treatment). I use a range of treatments including targeted radiation therapy, hormone therapies and chemotherapy to maximise cure rates and keep men alive for longer. I lead research studies seeking better ways to cure prostate cancer with radiotherapy.  

What do you enjoy most about your role?  

I enjoy getting to know my patients and encouraging as many as possible to enter clinical trials so we can continue to see better outcomes for patients year on year. I enjoy feeling part of a global community seeking to stop cancer robbing so many men of quality and quantity of life – we have made a lot of progress but have much further to go. I love coming up with new ideas for better treatments, and these ideas often come from the men I look after. The best research ideas stem from recognising a problem and trying to find treatments which can solve that problem.  

What would you say to someone thinking about a career in the NHS?  

I am so proud to work in the NHS, which is one of the most amazing things about living in the UK. We can provide world-leading care, using the best treatments for cancer, to everyone who comes through the door regardless of who they are or how much money they have. At its best, the NHS offers excellent care and kindness to every single member of our society. I have been a patient as well as a doctor in the NHS and have always been overwhelmed by the dedication of the teams who have cared for me and my family. The NHS is globally recognised as a leader in cancer research, largely due to the diligence, dedication and hard work of many of the amazing NHS staff who go above and beyond to deliver innovative treatments. I am lucky to work here.  

How would you describe the NHS in one word?  

Kind.

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A photo of Sarah AdomahSarah Adomah  

Lead Breast Clinical Nurse Specialist, The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust – Chelsea, London.

When did you start in the NHS? 

2004.

Why did you choose to work in the NHS? 

I was born in Ghana where I initially trained to be a teacher. However, I decided to relocate to the UK in my early 20s and studied nursing. This is because I have an innate passion to help and care for people. After completing my training in 2004, my first nursing job was at The Royal Marsden and, apart from three years at a different London trust in 2011, I have worked here ever since.   

Describe what you do in 100 words 

I am the Lead Breast Clinical Nurse Specialist at The Royal Marsden in Chelsea, which involves both clinical responsibilities as well as managing the service and driving improvements. As a Clinical Nurse Specialist, I am the main point of contact for patients throughout their journey, from diagnosis to treatment and beyond. This involves providing practical and emotional support for patients and their loved ones. I also manage and lead the breast clinical nursing specialist team service across at The Royal Marsden in Chelsea, always ensuring appropriate service provision. As part of this, I represent the breast tumour group and The Royal Marsden at network and national level to influence the strategic direction of care issues.  

What do you enjoy most about your role? 

I enjoy driving diversity and inclusion in cancer care wherever possible. For example, in 2022, along with my colleague, Natalie Johnson, who is a breast and oncoplastic surgeon at The Royal Marsden, I was behind the launch of the UK’s first softies in a range of skin tones. A softie is a lightweight, fabric prosthesis that women with breast cancer are often given to wear in their bra after a mastectomy. Some women use a softie temporarily – before reconstructive surgery or before using a permanent silicon prosthesis. However, many women use their softie long-term, as they can be more comfortable than other options. 

Having a mastectomy is often traumatic and, as I have heard from many women over the years, being given a softie in an inappropriate skin tone can make the experience even more upsetting. Women will often not use the product or feel self-conscious about it being visible – and may end up not wearing the clothes they want to.   

Created in partnership with Nubian Skin thanks to funding from The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, this new range comes in seven sizes of four colours: berry, cinnamon, caramel and café au lait. The products are currently available for Royal Marsden patients, but there are plans to roll them out more widely. 

What would you say to someone thinking about a career in the NHS? 

I would encourage them to pursue a career of their choice within the NHS. As an organisation, there are a number of opportunities for both personal and professional development. It is the lifeline of the nation and an opportunity to be a part of it is invaluable.  

How would you describe the NHS in one word? 

Incredible.

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A photo of Shaan MeedaShaan Meeda 

Practice Retention Midwife, Milton Keynes University Hospital – Buckinghamshire.

When did you start in the NHS? 

I started at Milton Keynes University Hospital in 2012 as a student, and October 2015 as a qualified midwife. 

Why did you choose to work in the NHS?  

I chose to be a midwife and work within the NHS because I enjoy looking after people. It was only when I started working within the organisation that I realised the impact the NHS has on patients and staff, and that we have the platform to support change and ensure the experience patients have is positive and the care we provide is safe. 

Describe what you do in 100 words 

I support our newly qualified midwives throughout their preceptorship period, which is a structured period of transition from being a student to newly qualified practitioner. Preceptorship helps new health professionals to translate and embed their knowledge into practice.  

What do you enjoy most about your role?  

Supporting newly qualified midwives in the clinical areas and giving them the tools and encouragement to succeed. I have a great sense of job satisfaction, particularly when individuals achieve something they thought they couldn’t.  

What would you say to someone thinking about a career in the NHS?  

Do your research, talk to staff and attend career days to ensure you are fully informed about the job role you are interested in. And if it is – do it!  

The NHS has allowed me to flourish and develop personally and professionally. I still love working as a midwife nearly eight years on.  

How would you describe the NHS in one word?  

Irreplaceable.  

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A photo of Ricky Yung driving a ride-on cleaning machine through a hospitalRicky Yung 

Domestic Assistant, Milton Keynes University Hospital – Buckinghamshire.

When did you start in the NHS? 

I joined in 2001 after moving to Milton Keynes from Hong Kong following my retirement as a sergeant in the British Army. 

Why did you choose to work in the NHS? 

A former Army colleague of mine had moved here and recommended it as a place to work, so I applied! I am now retired but I love the place so much I work two days a week on the hospital bank (in-house agency). 

Describe what you do in 100 words 

I am a member of the hospital’s large domestic team which is responsible for ensuring that the hospital’s very high standards of cleanliness are maintained at all times. I use a ride-on cleaning machine to ensure that all public areas are kept spotlessly clean. As I spend a lot of my working day cleaning the hospital corridors, it means I am also able to help when any visitors are lost and need directions to help them get to wards and departments. I have no idea how many miles I travel around the site in a day, but it is certainly a lot!  

What do you enjoy most about your role? 

I enjoy meeting people and I meet so many of them every day, from other staff to patients, visitors and volunteers. It is a very friendly place to work. 

What would you say to someone thinking about a career in the NHS? 

I would say that it is worth investigating all the possible career options because there are so many routes to choose. I really enjoy working in the NHS. 

How would you describe the NHS in one word? 

Great! 

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Photo of Mark RolandDr Mark Roland

Respiratory Consultant, Deputy Medical Director, Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust – Hampshire.

When did you start in the NHS?

August 1990

Why did you choose to work in the NHS?

Working in healthcare was a passionate vocation for me from a young age, very much wired into my DNA. I have always worked for the NHS as I’m passionate about the equality of care we strive to offer for all.

Describe what you do in 100 words

At my core I’m a respiratory consultant with an interest in lung cancer and end of life care. I enjoy working in ward teams with the challenges and rewards that brings. As Deputy Medical Director, I have the privilege of providing clinical support and leadership in a wide variety of domains including mental health, mortality, infection prevention and control, patient safety and clinical ethics, amongst others. This diversity allows me to interact with a wide range of stakeholders, striving to improve the quality and safety of the care we deliver, trying to bring kindness and compassion into our conversations.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

The astonishing variety, the intellectual challenges, the humanity, the camaraderie, the privilege of providing care for those most in need, and being able to bring patience, calm and kindness into some of the most stressful situations. There is never a day that goes by without my learning something new after over 30 years in practice.

What would you say to someone thinking about a career in the NHS?

There are very few careers that will bring the same breadth of experience, privilege through being able to provide care and support, and immersion in the human experience as working as a health care professional in the NHS. After over 30 years my career remains varied, challenging, educational and rewarding. I could not recommend this exciting journey more highly to others.

How would you describe the NHS in one word?

Inspiring.

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Photo of Bev LonghurstBev Longhurst

Senior Research Nurse, Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust – Hampshire.

When did you start in the NHS?

July 1992, when I started my nurse training.

Why did you choose to work in the NHS?

Initially, I didn’t give it too much thought. I just wanted to be a nurse! Very soon I realised I wanted the opportunity to help others, from diverse backgrounds and situations, in a really varied environment. There are so many departments and specialties to choose from: I knew I’d find something that really suited my skills and personality.

Describe what you do in 100 words

Although I am technically part of the wider research team within the hospital, in 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic, I helped to set up and run a community research hub in the city of Portsmouth, enabling residents to take part in vaccine research without the need to travel to the hospital.

As one of the senior nurses, I lead and work alongside a fantastic team of professionals providing care to trial participants, both on-site and with virtual/phone study follow up. It’s great to have this opportunity to embed clinical research within the community that we serve.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

It’s great to meet new potential participants and support them through the journey to take part in research projects. My role is a perfect mix of patient contact and supporting and leading my team.

What would you say to someone thinking about a career in the NHS?

It is a great chance to develop your own skills while providing an essential service to those who need it. You will never be bored!

How would you describe the NHS in one word?

Special.

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Photo of Helen WakefieldHelen Wakefield

Clinical Lead, Widnes Urgent Treatment Centre, Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust – North West England.

When did you start in the NHS?

September 2005.

Why did you choose to work in the NHS?

I have always wanted to be a nurse and be in a caring profession. I wanted to make a difference to others by being there for them and helping them in their time of need.

Describe what you do in 100 words

I clinically support the staff, whether that be by reviewing patients, prescribing medications, reviewing x-rays or discussing clinical guidelines to ensure patients receive high standards of care.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I enjoy the variety of what each day offers. No two days are the same. I enjoy the new challenges that I face each day.

What would you say to someone thinking about a career in the NHS?

The NHS and the careers it can offer are amazing. The opportunities are endless and can lead you down many exciting paths.

How would you describe the NHS in one word?

Dedicated.

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Photo of Susan BurtonSusan Burton

Deputy Chief Nurse, Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust – North West England.

When did you start in the NHS?

April 1991.

Why did you choose to work in the NHS?

The opportunity to work with children, families and communities to reduce health inequalities and support individuals to live healthier lives for longer.

Describe what you do in 100 words

Every day is different. I work within the community, so work over a large geographic area, in a community trust which provides a diverse range of services from adult and children community nursing to intermediate care (time-limited, short-term support). I provide professional leadership, supporting nursing and other staff to bring about service transformation and improved patient care.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I have the most amazing role. I have the privilege of working with clinical teams and operational colleagues to deliver safe and effective care to the population we serve. The best part of my job is listening to our clinical teams, hearing about the compliments they receive, patient stories and how their work is making a difference to people’s lives.

What would you say to someone thinking about a career in the NHS?

Do it! You will have the most rewarding career and be part of the NHS family.

How would you describe the NHS in one word?

Proud.

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Photo of Jillian WallisJillian Wallis

Associate Director, Halton Community Services, Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust – North West England.

When did you start in the NHS?

I started in the NHS in 1998 when I qualified as an occupational therapist.

Why did you choose to work in the NHS?

I chose to work in the NHS because I wanted to help people and make a difference in their lives.

Describe what you do in 100 words

I have overall responsibility for the high quality and safe delivery of a number of community services within Halton. This includes the urgent treatment centre in Widnes and our community nursing services. I also oversee our podiatry, speech and language therapy, neurosciences and urgent community response teams. My role is to drive forward innovation and improvement, working collaboratively with colleagues across our organisation.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I really enjoy working with the clinical services, listening to and observing all the amazing work they do.

What would you say to someone thinking about a career in the NHS?

My career in the NHS has enabled me to explore lots of different and varied roles. I would say to anyone thinking of a career in the NHS just take a leap, the NHS is full of exciting opportunities.

How would you describe the NHS in one word?

Fantastic.

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A photo of Samantha GlasperSamantha Glasper

Targeted Lung Health Check Administration Lead and Data Quality Analyst, Luton & Dunstable University Hospital – Bedfordshire.

When did you start in the NHS?

2018.

Why did you choose to work in the NHS?

I worked in education when my children were young as this suited our family life. Once they were older and more independent, I made the decision to start a new career. I chose the NHS as I wanted to work in an area where I felt I would be making a valuable difference to people in need.

Describe what you do in 100 words

I am responsible for the administration and data quality of the targeted lung health checks programme – a screening programme for smokers and ex-smokers aged between 55 to 74 years. The purpose of the programme is to diagnose lung cancer early to provide an improved prognosis for patients as lung cancer often does not show symptoms until it is in the later stages. As a new screening programme, we are required to provide a large amount of data internally and externally, particularly in relation to the viability of the programme and the impact it is having.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I enjoy seeing first-hand the difference our programme is having on patients who may have otherwise had a less positive outcome from the diagnoses we have made. The programme has successfully diagnosed many other conditions as well as lung and other cancers.

What would you say to someone thinking about a career in the NHS?

Working for the NHS is hugely rewarding and there are a vast number of varied jobs available as the organisation is so large. There are many opportunities to work in different areas.

How would you describe the NHS in one word?

Crucial.

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Photo of Prince Neil SongsongPrince Neil Songsong

Senior Clinical Research Practitioner, St John’s Institute of Dermatology, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

When did you start in the NHS?

May 2013

Why did you choose to work in the NHS?

I chose to work in NHS because it provides excellent training and support for its employees in developing individual unique skills. I believe in its core values and, by applying these to my everyday work, I become a stronger person who can handle high-pressure situations. Working in the NHS, I developed conversational skills, self-knowledge, confidence, determination and resilience, and the best thing is that there’s always more to learn.

Describe what you do in 100 words

I work as a senior clinical research practitioner at dermatology clinical trials at Guy’s Hospital. It is an interesting combination of clinical and research responsibilities. I am the lead study practitioner for commercial trials specialising in dermatology. I support clinical research studies and colleagues on a daily basis. My role is to ensure that the clinical trial clinic runs smoothly. I act as the main point of contact for the study principal investigator and sponsors. I am involved in ensuring that the research undertaken safeguards the well-being of our patients. I identify and recruit new patients for new studies.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I work in a very diverse, professional and friendly department. As well as helping patients to improve their quality of life, the most enjoyable part of my role is the interaction and my working relationship with my colleagues; we build relationships while helping patients to get better. The people who work in the NHS are the heart and soul of the institution and I am proud to say that I am part of this amazing and hard-working group of individuals; we share the same vision and care for our patients. I know that we change people’s lives daily and it feels good that it is part of what we do.

How would you describe the NHS in one word?

Dynamic.

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Photo of Pauline Joyce AspaPauline Joyce Aspa

Research Nurse, Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust.

When did you start in the NHS?

January 2019.

Why did you choose to work in the NHS?

3 years ago, I choose to work in the NHS to start a new adventure here in the United Kingdom with my then fiancé, now husband. We have been working as registered nurses for 7 years in our home country, the Philippines. We both thought that moving to the UK and working for the NHS would help us grow not only professionally but would also allow for our personal growth. We were also encouraged by some of our friends who have had the privilege of working in the NHS before us.

Describe what you do in 100 words

I am responsible for setting up observational and interventional research studies. As a research nurse, I manage the delivery of the study with the study and clinical teams. It is our responsibility to obtain informed consent from patients or their families and recruit them into studies. We always prioritise the patient’s safety.

I actively promote research. Torbay Hospital is part of the South West Peninsula Local Clinical Research Network and I am involved in the Critical Care Community of Practice. This is a platform where sites across the South West region share and discuss strategies to improve critical care studies across the region.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I feel proud and excited to be working in research for the NHS. All the projects we work on can shape clinical best practice and change health care for years to come. I love working alongside a smart, creative and passionate group of people, sharing the same goal and contributing to the advancement of healthcare.

How would you describe the NHS in one word?

Inclusive.

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Volunteers

Photo of Karen Weites driving a shuttle buggy through a hospitalKaren Weites

Volunteer, North Tyneside General Hospital – Newcastle upon Tyne.

When did you start volunteering?

August 2019.

Why did you choose to volunteer?

I visited North Tyneside General Hospital with a family member. We had to be taken to the ward in the shuttle buggy. I decided I’d like to do this so picked up an application form. I couldn’t do it straight away as I had a hip operation. After it healed, Covid hit. However, I was determined to volunteer and help. Also, my sister started work for the NHS on the very first day it opened – she worked at the executive council.

Describe what you do in 100 words

Over the last few years, I have done all sorts of different things, such as working in the hospital café (Harry’s), meeting and greeting patients and relatives at the main entrance and buggy driving. I have also helped with other seasonal roles such as vaccination clinics in the community and knitting fiddle mitts and blankets for the wards.

It can be quite daunting for some people to come to hospital, so I meet everyone with a smile and guide them to where they need to go. I also answer any questions they may have. I try and make them feel at ease.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I love meeting and helping people, and driving the buggies, especially taking the children to outpatients. I also like helping the service and giving something back. I thoroughly enjoy my volunteer roles as I feel part of a team and feel like I’m doing something essential.

What advice would you give to someone who was thinking about volunteering in health and care?

It’s such a super thing to do and it makes you feel valued doing something so worthwhile. I tell people that they should sign up and they can do shifts to suit them. It’s really good for your own wellbeing too. I live on my own and it gets me out of the house meeting people.

How would you describe the NHS in one word?

I can’t do just one. Fantastic, amazing, unique.

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Photo of Jenny West standing in front of an ambulanceJenny West

Emergency Responder, London Ambulance Service – London.

When did you start volunteering?

November 2019.

Why did you choose to volunteer?

I enjoy helping people. I manage GP practices for my ‘day job’ so volunteering has given me a chance to do ‘acute’ (life threatening) work. I also wanted to assist the London Ambulance Service in helping patients.

Describe what you do in 100 words

Emergency responders are trained to respond to 999 calls, usually Category 1 calls – these are life-threatening injuries or emergencies which can include cardiac arrests, traumatic bleeding or seizures. We’re in uniform and respond in marked ambulance cars with blue lights. We’re often first on scene because we don’t take patients to hospital so we’re available to respond quickly. We start life-saving treatment when we reach a patient, including CPR, using a defibrillator, oxygen therapy and controlling severe bleeding. If crews are already treating a patient, we are a useful extra pair of hands.

During the pandemic, we had further training so we could respond on ambulances.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I love being able to make a difference – not just for the patient but also for their family. Because we are often first on scene, we really can make the difference between life and death. We see people at their most vulnerable and I feel very privileged to be able to help and support them and be part of the ambulance service. It’s very satisfying. Being a volunteer is also something that you can fit around your main job and your family commitments; I love the flexibility.

What advice would you give to someone who was thinking about volunteering in health and care?

My advice would be to definitely find out more and take that first step because working for London Ambulance Service is so interesting and rewarding.

How would you describe the NHS in one word?

Caring.

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Photo of Sarah LeighSarah Leigh

Butterfly volunteer, Lister Hospital, East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust – Stevenage.

When did you start volunteering?

2021.

Why did you choose to volunteer?

I wanted to give back to the NHS. My son has a learning disability, and we frequently use services at the hospital. I’m also an advocate for accessible and equitable healthcare and thought I could bring this to the role.

Describe what you do in 100 words

As Butterfly volunteers, we sit with patients who are at the end of their life so they’re not alone. We are advocates for the patient and support families at a difficult time. We can provide respite for family members and peace of mind that their relative won’t be alone. We can also assist with overnight needs if a family member wants to stay with their loved one – eg a bed, toiletries, and, of course, cups of tea.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I enjoy supporting relatives and creating a calm environment for those who are at the end of their life.

What advice would you give to someone who was thinking about volunteering in health and care?

Do it! It is so rewarding and you’re in good company with some of the most patient and kind people I have ever met.

How would you describe the NHS in one word?

Important.

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Photo of Martin Bryan standing beside a shuttle buggyMartin Bryan

Shuttle buggy driver, Royal Bournemouth Hospital, part of University Hospitals Dorset – Bournemouth.

When did you start volunteering?

October 2021.

Why did you choose to volunteer?

The volunteers were really helpful to my wife when she was poorly in hospital. I saw first-hand their value and wanted to give something back and offer my support.

Describe what you do in 100 words

We have four stops around the hospital, near main entrances, and I drive our patients and families to where they need to be. Due to major works being done on the hospital, accessibility is much more difficult than normal, and it can be quite confusing for visitors. I pick them up from where they are and take them to where they need to go. Some of them can be quite immobile so this service is a great help to them, keeping them comfortable on their visit. If I can reduce their stress in any way, I am always happy to help.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I enjoy meeting the patients, visitors and staff. Every day is different. It is great to get to know people and build a relationship with them.

What advice would you give to someone who was thinking about volunteering in health and care?

Do it. You will get a great feeling of satisfaction out of it, and I enjoy every minute of my time at the hospital.

How would you describe the NHS in one word?

Fantastic.

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Photo of Adam Brogden with a St John ambulanceAdam Brogden

Emergency Ambulance Crew (EAC) with St John Ambulance, North West – Preston and Stockport.

When did you start volunteering?

I joined St John Ambulance as a first aid volunteer around nine years ago but decided to train as a volunteer ambulance crew three years ago.

Why did you choose to volunteer?

I volunteer because I want to support my local community and be able to help people when they need it most. I am proud to be a member of St John Ambulance and everything we stand for.

Describe what you do in 100 words

As Emergency Ambulance Crew, I work on shifts on a range of vehicles to support the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS). I also help out at local events and on various community support activities. On NWAS shifts, we are treated as crew – we sign-on as crew, and are deployed to a wide range of incidents, including the sickest patients and seriously injured – often whilst working with paid staff and other agencies. This makes me feel immensely proud of my role, and always grateful for their support.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

St John Ambulance is now a big part of my life. It has allowed me to develop new skills. I have made new friends, and experienced some of the most difficult, challenging, and rewarding experiences of my life. I take the role seriously and work hard to be the best I can be. Being an Emergency Ambulance Crew is not an easy role, but the personal rewards are enormous.

What advice would you give to someone who was thinking about volunteering in health and care?

Choose carefully but do it! Volunteering can have a positive impact on your life and the lives of the people you support. Volunteering will give you opportunities you might never otherwise experience.

How would you describe the NHS in one word?

Compassion.

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Photo of Andy Booth pushing food and drink trolleysAndy Booth

Emergency Department Patient Companion, Emergency Assessment Centre, Wexham Park Hospital – Buckinghamshire.

When did you start volunteering?

September 2019.

Why did you choose to volunteer?

In 2019 there was a note on our village Facebook page about volunteering in the new Emergency Assessment Centre. Until then, I had not thought of volunteering in a hospital. However, I come from a medical family, my father was an obstetrician and gynaecologist in South Essex, and both my brothers work within the NHS in Essex as a GP and an advanced paramedic.

The Facebook page triggered an interest and having visited the hospital, I realised that I could also, partly, follow the family and help patients while they are, unexpectedly, in a strange environment. My role is to listen and talk with them, and to make tea or coffee.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

Seeing the patients smile.

What advice would you give to someone who was thinking about volunteering in health and care?

Go into volunteering to enjoy your volunteering time. It’s not always like the TV shows. Listen to the staff as they will give you good advice.

How would you describe the NHS in one word?

Magical.

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A photo of Ali MacitAli Macit

Patient Experience Volunteer, North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust.

When did you start volunteering?

February 2022

Why did you choose to volunteer?

The National Health Service was founded in 1948 and with many years of progression it has grown and advanced juristically through the hard work of doctors, nurses and other allied healthcare professionals to be the service it is today. Being part of such a community of dedicated individuals who centre the care and wellbeing of others is an incredible environment to volunteer in and be a part of, hence why I chose to be a volunteer.

Describe what you do in 100 words

As a patient experience volunteer working as a mealtime companion, I assist in maintaining nutrition and hydration in patients, tea and coffee rounds as well as aiding with mealtimes, encouraging patients to eat and drink independently. Observing the difference that my role makes to patients and ward staff is truly rewarding.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

To pinpoint a singular moment that has been memorable to me is impossible as every day is distinctive and unique in its own way. Having such responsibility to help in the care for others and the gratitude that is reciprocated between staff and patients is amazing, something truly worth being involved in.

As an aspiring medic, such a volunteering programme has aided my application in many ways. This role has highly boosted my communication and interpersonal skills and developed my skillset in patient care whilst giving me that familiarity with medicine and the ward structure.

What advice would you give to someone who was thinking about volunteering in health and care?

The exposure gained from such a patient facing role is incredible, meeting new patients daily who all have their own story about their journeys and having patients compliment the work you do makes it very rewarding and motivational.

How would you describe the NHS in one word?

Describing the NHS in one word is tough. They are everything and go above and beyond for the care of patients, however the word I would use would be “wonderful”.

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Photo of Sumia MohamedSumia Mohamed

NHS Cadet – North Bristol.

When did you start volunteering?

March 2022.

Why did you choose to volunteer?

I joined the St John NHS Cadets programme to help understand and gain an insight into the NHS. I wanted to strengthen and build on the skills I have too.

Also, I knew I wanted to work in the NHS but wasn’t sure what role to pursue. Being an NHS cadet with St John has helped me narrow down what I wanted to do. I’m now applying to become a paramedic at university with the skills I have learnt.

Describe what you do as an NHS Cadet in 100 words.

We talk about what the NHS actually is as well as the different career paths it offers. I have had the opportunity to learn first aid training and what to do in an emergency. We also have the chance to build and strengthen our personal skills.

What do you enjoy most about NHS Cadets?

I enjoyed being able to have discussions and learn new things about the NHS as well as make new friends. Being able to build on my communication skills in front of a group really helped build my confidence.

What advice would you give to someone who was thinking about volunteering or working in health and care?

Don’t be scared to ask questions. Volunteering at the hospital in Bristol really scared me at first but the NHS and St John volunteering team are so helpful when you have any concerns.

How would you describe the NHS in one word?

Hardworking.

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Photo of Dan SambellDan Sambell

Radio presenter, Coventry Hospital Radio –West Midlands.

When did you start volunteering?

2013.

Why did you choose to volunteer?

The main reason was to get into the radio industry, as I’d always been passionate about radio since I was five. Hospital radio is an obvious way and has worked well for me, but it’s also really rewarding to meet patients and brighten up their stay. You are doing what you love but also getting a great reward – and it has helped me to go on and become a BBC presenter.

Describe what you do in 100 words

Essentially, it’s cheering patients up through the power of your voice and some really feel-good music. Once a week, I prepare, produce and present my own music radio show which goes out live on Coventry Hospital Radio directly to patients’ bedside entertainment system, completely free of charge so that patients always have something to keep them occupied. I play feel-good songs and take requests from patients too. Any songs that aren’t requested, I carefully pick out to ensure they’ll help put a smile on a patient’s face. I play a variety of genres and decades.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

Everything! Knowing that you are putting a smile on patients’ faces. The best thing is when you get chance to go round the wards and seeing their face light up when they hear a song they love or have requested. Not everybody has a relative coming to see them so it means the world to them.

How would you describe the NHS in one word?

Resilient.

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