As we celebrate the NHS’s 74th birthday today, Steve Galpin, Community Psychiatric Nurse at the Trust shares his story of spending over fifty years working in the NHS. Over that time he has seen and been involved in many changes.
Stephen said: “I have worked with some wonderful caring staff who want the best care for their patients. The NHS has changed beyond recognition from when I started and perhaps I am most proud of embracing change and playing a part in developing services that improve the delivery of care to the patient.”
He talks more about his fantastic career below:
“I went to an NHS recruitment centre in Nottingham and thought I would try Mental Health Nursing. I started with much nervousness and trepidation, after the first week I knew it was the career for me.
“I began training as a student nurse on 10 August 1970 at Saxondale Hospital, Radcliffe on Trent which covered the whole of Nottinghamshire County, with Mapperley Hospital (now Duncan MacMillian House) taking patients from Nottingham City and surrounding areas. Saxondale was divided into male and female sides; a concert hall, library, hairdressing, and various other departments including printing, making the hospital a self-contained community.
“Upon completing training, I became a staff nurse. Promotion at that time was fairly swift. After two years I was promoted to charge nurse and after being a “relief charge nurse”, that is covering for annual leave and sick leave, I gained my own ward. This was a health care of the elderly ward and mapped out the rest of my career. Together with colleagues we looked at ways to improve patient care, researching innovation in patient care and, with support from managers many improvements were implemented. In 1983 I was promoted to clinical nurse manager with responsibility for six healthcare of the elderly wards.
“In the mid-1980s most mental health hospitals were due for closure, moving services into the local community, Saxondale was due to close in 1988. Part of my remit was to organise the transfer of patients to facilities in Mansfield, Bassetlaw and Nottingham General Hospital. In 1987 I decided to move to the Queens Medical Centre (QMC) to open and manage a new ward (A45) for elderly mental health patients. At the time this ward was almost unique and was a huge learning experience for all involved.
“By 1999 planning had started to move the psychiatric wards out of QMC and when A45 was closed I moved on to Highbury Hospital. Discussions had been taking place for some time between Mental Health Services for Older People and Broxtowe Social Services regarding developing a joint service in a new build, Bramwell, in Chilwell. The agreed plan was to have social service residential care, an NHS managed acute organic ward, NHS Day Service and offices for the Broxtowe Community Mental Health team. With other colleagues I was involved in devising working practices between the NHS and Social Services, recruiting staff and implementing practices for our service. Bramwell opened in March 2003, a very exciting time and one that was successful.
“Due to retire in September 2003 I had the difficult decision as to whether to do so or not after just starting this new service. I decided to retire but was immediately recruited to temporarily cover the management of Mabon House, a Day Centre for Young Onset Dementia patients, open for two days a week. Thirteen years later I was still there. I enjoyed being with the patients in the community and again learnt so much. That service was amalgamated into the St Francis Day Hospital at the City Hospital, I then moved to the MHSOP day services at Lings Bar Hospital.
“The Covid pandemic has brought changes in older persons day services. Now called Therapy Intervention service it will deliver organic and mental health groups across the city and county. The team is made up of psychologists and assistant psychologists, occupational therapists, nurses and assistant practitioners. Being a part of this new service, I am still learning so much, equally I can use my experience to influence service development.
“I have had many challenging and stressful periods during my career, I have tried to learn from these times and turn them into positives for the future. I describe myself as a pragmatic optimist, others describe me as being laid back.
“I have taken a keen interest in nurse training, sitting on committees, taking teaching sessions in the School of Nursing, being a service side rep when reviewing student nurse practice areas. Being with students has given me a tremendous sense of achievement and satisfaction.
“I am often asked why I continue to work. I retain my passion and enthusiasm for patient care and patient interaction and the satisfaction of being part of a team. I feel privileged that I am still working and gain so much fulfilment from being challenged with new ideas and concepts.”