Cumbria celebrates 70 years of the NHS

The 5th July marked the 70th birthday of one of the nation’s best loved institutions – the National Health Service.  In Cumbria, NHS staff, patients and members of the public took part in a number of celebrations throughout the week. 

NHS staff were invited to enjoy a cup of tea and a piece of cake at West Cumberland Hospital, Cumberland Infirmary, Furness General Hospital, Westmorland General Hospital, Carleton Clinic and the county’s community hospitals. Staff at other sites worked together to host tea parties to mark the occasion, including the Learning Disability and Adult Autism Assessment teams in Barrow, Kentmere mental health inpatient unit in Kendal, support services at Maglona House in Carlisle and Voreda House in Penrith and many more.

 

70 school pupils from Trinity School in Carlisle visited clinical teams at Cumberland Infirmary, the ambulance station and community mental health teams to present staff with cakes they had made. Sam Ferguson from Year 8 at Trinity School said: “We wanted to do it because the staff have to work long hours and it’s nice to know they are appreciated.”

On Saturday, Unison and the NHS held an event in Carlisle City Centre, which saw hundreds of people come along and join in the celebrations.

Members of the public could talk to health professionals from a number of different services from Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) and North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust (NCUH), including maternity, health visiting, physiotherapy, cancer services, palliative care, First Step, child and adolescent mental health services, patient experience and equality and diversity. The mental health team’s penalty shoot-out game was very popular given the day’s football festivities, while people could visit the memory and later life team on a vintage bus. Volunteers from Give a Day Carlisle served refreshments throughout the day, including a giant hobnob cake which was donated by Comfort Street Eats, and Asda came along to give out free fruit.

The recruitment stall was especially popular, with lots of people wanting to find out more about all the opportunities there are to join the NHS in Cumbria. Eight year old Maddie Crooks, who would like to be a nurse, wore her homemade NHS t-shirt and presented staff with a letter she wrote about how we are lucky to have a national health service, and Keighlan Kerr, who visited the North West Ambulance Service, wants to be a paramedic when he is older.  

  

We were also joined by Blood Bikes, Macmillan, University of Cumbria, Motor Neurone Disease Association, Healing Arts and Happy Mums Foundation. Healthwatch invited people to visit their Chatty Van and talk about their experiences of the NHS; Carlisle City Council promoted their Walking for Health and Sugar Smart programmes and Cumbria Archive Centre displayed some of their old photos and hospital records.

MP John Stevenson and Chair of CPFT Robin Talbot came along on the day. Robin said: “It’s been lovely to see everyone celebrating 70 years of the NHS – I’m really pleased to see not only how proud our staff are to work for the NHS, but also how much the community has joined in and supported us. I’d like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to everyone who has been involved and given their time and support in making the 70th birthday of the NHS such a memorable occasion.” 

In Whitehaven, members of the community organised an event at St Nicholas’ Gardens on Sunday, which was attended by staff from CPFT community services. An open air service of thanks was led by Rev Robert Jackson, and there were information stalls and family entertainment.  

Some NHS staff from CPFT, NCUH and North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group were nominated by their colleagues to represent the NHS in Cumbria at two national celebrations on Thursday 5th July. Vanessa Connor, Integrated Care Communities Development Manager, was one of eleven staff who attended a service at Westminster: “I felt very honoured and humbled to be able to represent the trust at the Westminster ceremony. We heard some very moving speeches but the one that stood out for me was a young lady called Freya who had been significantly injured in the Manchester bomb attack. Freya spoke very eloquently about the treatment and support she has received from the NHS. Her speech brought a tear to the eye of many!”

Fiona Sim and Diane Clark, Infant Feeding Coordinators, attended a service at York Minster, along with 7 other staff. Fiona said: “There were 3000 people at the Minster from all areas of the service representing 1.2 million NHS staff.  Jeremy Hunt led the tributes and several NHS choirs performed. Sir Michael Grant, Chair of NHS England gave a very inspiring final address on the future of the NHS and the challenges it faces but in a very positive way. The whole evening was a very special experience which Diane and I were very proud to be part of.”

The week’s celebrations also included a service of thanks at Carlisle Cathedral on Sunday 1st July, where Bishop James Newcome spoke about the many challenges facing the NHS as it turns 70, but also of its remarkable achievements. The service demonstrated the diversity of the NHS with a procession representing the different roles, services and partner organisations which enable the NHS to provide care.

NHS staff, patients, communities and partner organisations have all played a part in the celebrations leading up to the 70th birthday. Back in June the festivities kicked off with hundreds of people taking part in special NHS70 parkruns across Cumbria. Local businesses and organisations have also got involved, and Penrith Town Hall and Cumbria Health on Call’s Hilltop Heights building were both lit up blue for the occasion.

CPFT and NCUH have created a special edition of the Trust Talk magazine, reflecting on 70 years of the NHS, celebrating staff and looking to the future – read it here.