NHS 70 Stories - Di's clocked up 44 years at the Trust and shows no sign of stopping

Monday, 11 June 2018

Di Smith first started working at Frenchay Hospital almost 44 years ago - and enjoys her work so much that she continues to work shifts on the bank even though she retired last year. Di Smith has worked at the Trust for 44 years but can't give up yet
She is almost two years older than the health service, turning 72 later this year and initially joined the hospital as a cleaner working the 5pm-9pm shift in the wages office.
After six months working at Frenchay Di decided that she wanted to be involved in caring for patients and became a Nursing Auxiliary.
One night while she was working Di was asked by the nursing officer to help out in the Accident Centre (now the Emergency Department) because it was busy. Initially she was reluctant but having made the move she stayed in the department for about 20 years.
“It was wonderful”, she said.
“The staff were nice and you worked with the same staff on the night shifts. That changed when internal rotation was brought in as that meant that for some people they couldn’t carry on working because they couldn’t do the day shifts.”
Changes to the Nursing Auxiliary role also brought about a shift in Di’s work.
“I was broken-hearted when they took the role away because I loved it there, but that’s when I came to the Plaster Room,” Di said.
“It was still by A&E then and I thought it was lovely.”
Di was one of the first hospital staff to study for an NVQ qualification alongside her work.
“I think we had the best times in the NHS, although it was much stricter then,” she said.
“I’m still friends with a girl I met when I first went to A&E.”
“At Frenchay you knew nearly everybody, it was wonderful there.
“We are no longer part of the A&E team like we were before, which is a huge change, but we cover all the wards here and some A&E. I do miss the trauma cases though.”
Speaking of the 70th anniversary of the NHS, Di said: “I couldn’t believe it when I heard the NHS was turning 70 - I’ve been in the NHS over half the time it’s been going.
“I’ve always loved coming to work and never minded getting up and coming in. I’m so glad I went on working and working, I just couldn’t give it up. As long as they need me I will keep coming in.”