"Thank goodness for the NHS and long may it live" says King's Mill chaplain

Rodney warden in Kings Mill Faith Centre garden.
Rodney warden in Kings Mill Faith Centre garden.

Rodney Warden, King’s Mill  Hospital chaplain remembers when the NHS was first introduced, and how it helped him as a youngster.

Reverand Rodney Warden, 74, remembers the day the NHS began, as his younger sister had just been born.
His parents used to line two and six pence up on the top of their fridge to pay the doctor for milk and orange juice for his sister, but once the NHS began, Rodney was allowed the money as spending money.
Rodney said: “It made a huge difference to our family. It was a lot of money back then.”
He added: “I remember being a very sickly child, as I was affected with bronchitis two or three times a year and the doctor used to come running down the street to see me. On
one occasion I had to go to the hospital by ambulance and be kept in isolation, as my breathing had got so bad. Before the NHS this would have cost my family a lot of money.”
Rodney has been an NHS chaplain for 53 years and says that it has changed considerably during this time there.

In his first role, Rodney's supervisor said that he was only allowed to talk to patients who he was ‘paid to speak to’ which meant the patients who were not Church of England worshippers.
He said times have changed now: “We speak to everyone regardless of their religion and we are able to spend more time with patients than when I first began my career.”
Rodney added: “One of my most memorable moments was when I was contacted by the hospital where I had my first chaplaincy. It had been about 12 years since I had left, but unfortunately one of the patients that I used to see had died. They contacted me because the only thing of significance that they could find in her belongings was a piece of paper in her wallet that had my name on it. She had kept it all that time."
“I attended her funeral, as she had no other family.”

Rodney also set up a service for new mothers to give thanks for their babies.

He said: “I’ll also remember the first maternity service that I set up for Mums to give thanks for their baby. It was hugely popular and I’m really glad that we set it up. Now of course it is whole families who give thanks, as the fathers are much more involved in the births than they used to be. I can remember when they were made to stay outside of the delivery room. Things are much better now and far more inclusive.”

“To start with, my chaplaincy roles were an exclusively religious function, whereas now, we are really part of the hospital and we get involved in a lot more. We act as an advisory service as well as a religious one. We are always here for our patients to listen to them, we often sit with anyone who may be lonely, as well as performing the more religious tasks if patients need us to.”

“My time at King’s Mill Hospital has been the best years of my life. It is a good hospital which provides a good service. I have been a patient here myself four times and they looked after me so well.”
He added: “All I can say is thank goodness for the NHS and long may it live.”