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‘Nightingale nurses’ reunite at St Thomas’ to celebrate NHS 70th

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A group of nurses who trained at St Thomas’ Hospital in London 40 years ago took a trip down memory lane when they reunited as part of the NHS’s 70th birthday celebrations.

The group of 36 “Nightingale nurses” who graduated from the hospital’s Nightingale Training School recently got together to tour the hospital and share their memories of training and working there.

“The tour of the hospital showed us how much the NHS has moved on in 40 years”

Jenny Theed

They included Jenny Theed, who was 21 years old when she started training to be a nurse at St Thomas’ in 1978. She subsequently became a senior staff nurse caring for patients with kidney failure, before moving to Bristol in 1982.

Ms Theed, now aged 61 and director of operations and nursing for Bristol-based social enterprise Sirona Care and Health, said she had fond memories of training at St Thomas’.

“It was a brilliant place to train and was absolutely at the forefront,” she said. “We were one of the first centres to do peritoneal dialysis, which was pioneering.

“The tour of the hospital showed us how much the NHS has moved on in 40 years and gave us the opportunity to see some brand new state-of-the-art facilities,” she said.

St Thomas' Hospital

Jenny Theed

Source: Jenny theed

Nightingale nurse Jenny Theed

She added: “North Wing felt the same – like we had just left it – but the reception area was unrecognisable. Everyone at St Thomas’ really made us feel welcome and it was a very touching and emotional trip down memory lane.”

In the 1970s Gassiot House, which is now used as an outpatient centre and office space, was the nurses’ accommodation, though Ms Theed lived locally and travelled in for work.

“It was highly unusual for students to be able to ‘live out’. I was the only graduate student doing this but, as I had been to university in London and already had my own flat, I was given ‘dispensation’ on the understanding I would attend my placement shifts on time,” she said.

St Thomas' Hospital

Jenny Theed

Source: Jenny Theed

Jenny Theed in 2018

Ms Theed highlighted that one of her lasting memories was while as a student nurse working on the children’s ward. “I can still remember sitting in a rocking chair and feeding the babies while overlooking the River Thames and Big Ben,” she said.

She added: “Our uniform looked totally different to what the student nurses wear today and constructing the lace hats which we wore was an evening’s exercise.”

James Hill, head of nursing in acute medicine at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, took the group on a tour of Henry Ward, which caters for older patients, the maternity unit and the revamped major treatment area in the emergency department, which opened last month.

“We were delighted to welcome back the Nightingale nurses who trained here and to show them how the hospital has changed and developed since their time at St Thomas’,” he said.

“It was a great opportunity for us to show them our new majors area, which is improving the quality of care as well as the overall experience of patients requiring emergency treatment,” he added.

Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust

Nightingale nurses reunion 2018

Source: Jenny Theed

The Nightingale nurses reunite at St Thomas’ in 2018

Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust

Nightingale nurses in 1978

Source: Jenny Theed

The Nightingale nurses back in 1978

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