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NHS70: Chris Harvey on why he loves the NHS

16 February 2018


In March 1982, Chris Harvey, Head of Adult Safeguarding for Luton Clinical Commissioning Group (LCCG) was one of the first male nurses to train at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (RNOH) at Stanmore, Middlesex.

He hadn’t originally intended on training to become a nurse for the NHS. He thought he was destined for a business course at college. That was until he unintentionally blurted out that he was going to become a nurse during a disagreement with the college Vice Principal about the career path he wanted to take.

“It was purely a coincidence that I had been visiting my sick father in hospital earlier that week,” Chris said, “and I thought ‘nursing looks like a cushy number, I am going to do that’. Once I had announced it to the college’s Vice Principal I thought I had better follow it through!”

The Vice Principal followed up their disagreement by organising for Chris to have a chat with an advisor from the RNOH. Chris’ letter of application was accepted, and at 17 years of age, he became one of three men to commence nursing training while living in a dorm on-site at Stanmore surrounded by around 60 other female nurses.

“Treatments and technology have changed so much in a relatively short space of time,” Chris continued, “and hip and shoulder replacements were rare back then even at RNOH, which is a world leader in surgery. When replacements like those were carried out there would be a minimum of two weeks bed rest for the patient. Now patients are discharged from hip replacement surgery after a couple of days. In general people relied far less on the NHS services then than they do now”.

Chris qualified as a nurse by 1987, worked for three years in Luton and Dunstable Hospital in Medical Ward 10, and Surgical Ward 20, before working in the Accident and Emergency Department for the next twelve years.

“There were no computers in those days,” said Chris, “we just had to fill in a log book when patients presented at A&E. The technology and investigations that are carried out now are remarkable in such a quick time”.

Chris continued his NHS career in Luton becoming a Resuscitation Officer for two years, then spent another seven years as a Practice Development Nurse, before moving into Emergency Planning and Safeguarding for LCCG.

Reflecting on his 36 years of working for the NHS, Chris commented: “There is nothing better than helping patients and making a positive difference to their lives”.

A statement that is often echoed by health professionals, right across the NHS.

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