Theatres Staff Nurse Arlene Forrest has clocked up an amazing 50 years of loyal service to the NHS – priding herself on treating patients like members of her own family.
Arlene completed her half a century on Sunday 10 July, and has no intention of stopping her service!
She started her career on 10 July 1972 as a student nurse at East Birmingham Hospital – now known as Heartlands Hospital.
She recalls that, initially, nursing wasn’t something she had considered, but during training she realised it was the job for her and has never looked back.
She said: “I have seen many changes during my career. When I started training we had to live in a nurses’ home and had to be single. There were only a few jobs available to girls so at the age of 16 I went to a pre-nursing school for two years and then started my nurse training at 18. I remember matron saying – now girls you are married to the job. You were very committed to the establishment.
“I still feel like that now – I am still very committed. I love this job as you make a difference to people’s lives. You help people when they are sick. It is very rewarding.”
After qualifying Arlene specialised in working in renal dialysis and on the metabolic ward.
She added: “The patients were similar ages to me so I built up a rapport with them.”
Arlene, who has two children Cassandra and Dayne, made the move to Walsall Manor Hospital in 1976 after getting married to her husband Linden.
She said: “I moved because Heartlands was a long way to travel from our new home in Walsall and we couldn’t afford a car.
“Since working at Walsall I have always been in theatres and loved it.
“The biggest change I have seen is the size of the hospital. It has grown so much. When I started it was a small hospital and I wasn’t sure how long I would work here after coming from Birmingham’s huge hospitals but it was a family unit and the friends I have made kept me here. I have worked with some wonderful people. The workforce all have the same values – we come to work for our patients and treat them like family.
“From the moment I started nursing my passion hasn’t changed – I am always there for my colleagues and patients. I never wake up dreading to go to work – I am excited.
“I will work as long as I am fit and healthy.”
Lisa Faulkner, Lead Practitioner for Theatres, paid tribute to Arlene’s dedication.
She said: “Arlene is, and has always has been, a wonderful person to have as part of your team. She is tremendously experienced and always takes the time to share this with others, to enhance their knowledge and performance. She is professional , kind, caring and steadfast, she deserves to be recognised for her many achievements.”