Susan started working in the NHS in 1973. In her own words, here is Sue’s story about working in the NHS during her forty-five-year career.
The early days of health and safety
I started as a 17-year-old in a Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil, Saint Tydfil's. This building had been a workhouse for the poor at the beginning of its history, and attached to it was the paupers’ graveyard (of which we used to tip our faecal occult bloods out over, health and safety being at the time not like it is now). This hospital is today known as Saint Tydfil's Hospital.
I have been through many challenging times and have seen a number of staff members, move, retire and sadly pass away during my career. It was a different time then and our wages were different to other sectors of the NHS so there were always political problems. Also, not many females had top jobs and the male to female ratio was higher.
I suppose I am one of the lucky ones because I have had the pleasure to work with a team of highly professional people of which I am pleased to say that most of them I call friends.
There are many stories I can tell, from mouth pipetting ESR, making our own thromboplastin (using human brains), drinking coffee and eating toast on the benches where we made our manual blood films. Remember that health and safety was not what it is now.
Our Christmas parties were always held in the lab staff room with a buffet, lots of alcohol and invites out to everyone in our Hospital to drop in and have a drink. We had great times.
Today’s NHS is very different. Equal wages, our Chief Exec is a female, and there are many more women working in pathology. Personally, I work with a great team of professionals who care about our patients and service users.
I am and have been very lucky as a Biomedical Scientist.
Susan Pope MSc FIBMS