Sally retires 40 years after first joining Southmead Hospital

Friday, 20 January 2017

Sally Wheeler - who is retiring 40 years after starting at Southmead Hospital

A Southmead Hospital matron is retiring more than 40 years after she first joined the hospital as a student nurse.

Sally Wheeler started her training in October 1976, qualifying as a nurse in 1979 and moving over to Frenchay as a neurosurgery staff nurse on the female and paediatric wards.

In 1980 Sally returned to Southmead to train as a midwife – following her mother, Grace Watson, who trained and worked as a midwife in the hospital during the 1950s and her father Michael who was a junior doctor at Southmead.

Since qualifying as a midwife in 1981, Sally has remained working in maternity and gynaecology at Southmead Hospital.

Sally Wheeler - who is retiring 40 years after starting at Southmead Hospital

In 2006 she became Ward Manager on the Percy Phillips postnatal ward and Clinical Matron in 2012.

“I have witnessed many changes in that time,” Sally said.

“So many things have changed during this time; the range of services that are offered, the length of time that women spend in hospital after giving birth, the actual birth rate, the length of stay after gynaecological procedures – so many have become day case or outpatient procedures even over the four years that I have been matron for gynae.”

And one of the most obvious changes has been the uniform, she said.

“As a staff nurse in 1979/1980 I wore a starched collar & cap and a belt and buckle!”Sally Wheeler - who is retiring 40 years after starting at Southmead Hospital

Sally will be returning to the maternity unit to do a couple of shifts a week as she adapts to retirement, but is looking forward to spending more time with her grandchildren.

“It’s been a privilege to work here, I have grown and changed as the organisation has,” she said.

“The work we do here in maternity is of the highest standard and people want to work here.”