‘Patient care is still at the heart of nursing’ says King’s Mill Hospital’s nurse of the year

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Major changes may be taking place in the NHS country-wide but one thing that will never change is a nurses’ dedication to patients, says Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s nurse of the year.

Suzanne Goralik was honoured with the title at Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust nursing awards in November and says the desire to care for patients will never leave nursing.

After beginning her training in 1978, she said it is great to see how perceptions have changed when it comes to the profession.

Suzanne, gynaecology cancer nurse specialist at King’s Mill, said: “There have been many changes in nursing since I started training in 1978 at King’s Mill.

“One of the main changes seen is how attitudes to nurses have altered.

“We are now treated as vital members of the health care team and our medical opinions, wealth of knowledge and experience is valued by doctors. No longer are student nurses sent to the sluice room to clean out bedpans while the consultant does the ward round.

“Even with all these changes the focus on the profession remains the same, nurses strive to ensure that their patients receive the best care that they can provide.”

Retired Dukeries Centre maternity nurse, Diane Wright, was one of many to swap the mini skirts and heels for a nurses’ apron and cardboard hat.

She said no one could have prepared the ‘baby boomers’ of her era for the challenges that nursing brings.

Diane’s experience began in 1969 after she swapped counting money for the Harrods Group in Sunderland a career in the NHS.

The 63-year-old, of Abbotts Lea, said: “All the other women were talking about their husbands, baking and starting a family and I sat there thinking to myself there must be more to life than being a house wife and mother.

“I wanted to make a life for myself first and get married later.

“Up until the late 1970’s, for women, marriage and motherhood was their destiny, it was their education. But I knew I wanted to do nursing.

“Everyone at work laughed at me when I said that was what I wanted to do and betted that I wouldn’t last.

“But I proved them wrong.”

After finishing her nurses training, Diane moved to Mansfield in 1977 to work as a trained maternity nurse at the then newly-built Dukeries Centre at King’s Mill Hospital.

She worked as a bank nurse and school nurse around Mansfield and Forest Town before retiring from what she called her ‘magnificent years in nursing’.

For Diane, the military approach to nursing was a far cry from how it has changed today.

“Going into nursing was a shock, but I have no regrets about my career.

“On my first day, the hair was tied up in a horrible cardboard hat, the long nails removed and mini skirts put away. I was told off for making a patient laugh, then I was screamed at for sitting down.

“I was 19 and was ready to give up after being broken by the matrons, but then as I limped down the corridor I heard an elderly lady calling after me saying ‘nurse, nurse’.

“I couldn’t believe it, someone was calling me a nurse and thought I would help them, that had never happened to me before in my life. It was a buzz.

“Once you become a nurse and feel that buzz you never lose it. I am not an ex nurse, I am a retired nurse.

“But I believe we are now living in a culture where it is a sin to be sick and a crime to care,” She added.

In the 1960’s and 70’s student nurses were not allowed to be married during their training as bosses believed it distracted them and made them unable to do their studies.

They also needed 100 per cent pass rate in all their English, maths, fitness and medical tests.