Nine members of staff from the local NHS in Humber and North Yorkshire were invited to Westminster Abbey to celebrate the 75th birthday of the National Health Service.
Founded in 1948, the NHS became the first universal health system which was available to all, free at the point of access. Today, the NHS provides services to millions of people across the country.
The service at Westminster Abbey took place on the birthday itself, Wednesday 5 July and included an address by NHS Chief Executive Amanda Pritchard.
Guests in the Abbey included around 1,500 nominated NHS staff, as well as some famous names and NHS Charities Together.
Gillian Clark, a York Community Parkinson’s Disease Nurse Specialist, attended the service alongside eight other colleagues from the NHS across the Humber and North Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership – including the local Integrated Care Board (ICB) and general practices.
Gillian has worked in the NHS since she was 18, and next year will mark her 40th year of service. Reflecting on the day, Gillian said: “I’m so proud to have been part of the NHS, especially as a nurse. I have worked with many dedicated colleagues along the way who have gone that extra mile, ensuring our patients are well looked after, safe, and their every need is met.
“The service at Westminster praised the work we do, the achievements we have accomplished over the past 75 years and the dedication of all those who work within it.”
Dr Navin Jaiveloo, a Hull GP and Secretary of the Hull and East Riding Hindu Cultural Association, was also in attendance and wished to join the special service to represent the members at his temple. Reminiscing on the day, Dr Navin said: “I consider it an honour and privilege to represent people from the Indian subcontinent who have been working in the NHS.
“The service was not only a celebration of the NHS but a tribute to the countless individuals who have dedicated their lives to caring for others in their time of need. The commitment, compassion and expertise provided by different individuals despite challenges and adversities form the backbone of NHS.
“The contributions of individuals from the Indian subcontinent working in the NHS since its inception in 1948 have left an indelible mark on the healthcare system in the United Kingdom. Many have left their home countries and families behind to pursue opportunities in the UK and become experts in their respective fields. Their cultural diversity and linguistic skills have enriched the care provided by the NHS.”
Carol Bowers, a Nurse Assessor in the Continuing Healthcare Team was also present at Westminster Abbey. Carol qualified as a nurse in 1986 and has worked within the NHS and the Royal Air Force – caring for patients in hospitals and in the community. Recounting the Westminster service, she said: “It was an honour and a privilege to be able to attend this special ceremony to celebrate the skills and dedication of all staff who have worked within the NHS for over seven decades.
“Being in such a beautiful location which was filled by thousands of NHS staff – many of whom were proudly wearing their uniforms, was a truly amazing experience. The service included inspiring readings and we were thanked by the Dean of Westminster for our dedication, loyalty and resilience.”
May Parsons, an Associate Chief Nurse who delivered the world’s first vaccine outside of a clinical trial in December 2020, carried the George Cross into the Abbey in a procession. May received the medal from Queen Elizabeth II, along with NHS England Chief Executive Amanda Pritchard and representatives from the other UK health services at Windsor Castle in July 2022.
She was joined by 17-year-old Kyle Dean-Curtis, St John Ambulance cadet of the year, who wants to work in the NHS, and 91-year-old Enid Richmond, who was one of the first people to work in the NHS as a Junior Clerical Worker and whose sister still volunteers in the health service.
Prayers were read by Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay, Chief Nurse Dame Ruth May, NHS National Medical Director Professor Sir Stephen Powis, Chief Allied Health Professions Officer Prof Suzanne Rastrick OBE, and Richard Webb-Stevens, a paramedic who was first on the scene of the Westminster Bridge terror attack and who holds the Queen’s Ambulance Medal for Distinguished Service.
Other NHS organisations from our area were invited to attend the national celebrations.