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As the NHS turns 75, three generations of one family celebrate 81 years of service

When four-year-old Rebecca Hill drew a picture of wanting to grow up to become a nurse, it hardly came as a surprise.

Mother Jane was already in the profession, as was grandmother Pat Kerley who was a nurse for 38 years.

As the NHS marks the 75th anniversary of its launch on 5th July 1948, the trio have now amassed a huge 81 years of collective service.

“Looking at it now, I was never going to be an artist!” says Rebecca, a Ward manager at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) NHS Trust.

“Nursing was something I always wanted to do, I never thought about doing anything else.

“What we do is a privilege and that’s why you go into this profession, because you want to be able to help people.

“It’s constantly changing and evolving and what nurses are able to do and the care and treatments we can give is developing all the time.”

All three trained in Coventry and have worked within the Coventry area for the entirety of their careers.

Jane, Clinical Director in Community Services at Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership Trust, said being able to support patients at difficult times in their lives is very special.

“People are allowing you into their lives and homes and that is an honour and a privilege,” added Jane, who was undecided on her career choice until she left school.

Reflecting on how things have changed, they all agree technology has played a huge role in transforming nursing and wider healthcare.

Jane said: “The latter years have seen the biggest change with technology and IT systems, along with the development of drugs and therapies improving outcomes for patients.

“There are also different levels of staff doing different jobs. There are many more opportunities and varied roles.

“People are also living so much longer now and with co-morbidities, illnesses they previously wouldn’t have survived. It’s not unusual to care for people well into their 90s.”

Pat, who retired 23 years ago, remembers a time when the NHS was a very different organisation to the one we know today.

"My first ward had 18 patients,” she said. “When patients came into hospital, they weren’t discharged the next day or a couple of days later. Nine times out of 10 they were in for much longer.

“It sounds corny but it was always something I wanted to do. And I’m very proud that Jane and Rebecca have followed the same path.”

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