Nurse looks back at 50 years in the profession
Nancy Bennett, a staff nurse at Doncaster Royal Infirmary, can remember a time when different grades of nurse were not allowed to sit together and nurses helped carry patients on stretchers.
Ms Bennett, who retired in December, started her nursing career in 1962 as a pupil nurse at Strathclyde Hospital. She moved to Doncaster in 1978 as an enrolled nurse and completed her nurse conversion training in 1994.
She said: “Things have certainly changed since my days as a pupil nurse. Like many hospitals at that time, Strathclyde was an infectious disease hospital. We had long, open Nightingale-style wards called pavilions which had a kitchen in the middle.
“I remember heating up the plates in water and serving the food for the patients. We used to do all the dusting on the ward and everything had to be in line for the matron’s inspection – it was very strict and regimental. We even sterilised the glass syringes and metal needles on the ward by boiling them up in water.”
She added: “In those days, hospital nurses went out in the ambulance to pick up patients from their homes. I will never forget having to help the driver carry the stretcher and being terrified of dropping it.
“In the dining room there were separate tables for different grades of nurses. Student nurses were the lowest and we had to remain standing until the sisters were seated.”
She also noted the change in staffing and patients since the 1970s, when she worked nights at the infirmary.
“We only had one trained nurse and an auxiliary covering both Wards 24 and 25,” she said.
“Even though there were just two of us on nights looking after more patients, we seemed to have more time as the patients back then had different care needs. The patients in those days were much younger.”