One of the first people ever employed by the NHS almost 70 years ago, who has dedicated her career and retirement to the Health Service, is urging retired NHS staff to make the most out of their new-found leisure time.
Ethel Armstrong, 86, was first employed by the NHS in 1948, the very year it was founded. Throughout her career Ethel held a variety of roles including radio-diagnosis and radiotherapy.
Now co-patron of the NHSRF , Ethel, 86, said: “The Fellowship is for everyone, from cooks to consultants, whether they are employed be the NHS or a partner organisation. Most of our work is about social interaction. Loneliness and isolation can be a real problem for retired people and we want to make sure colleagues have the support they need to make the most of out of their retirement. They’ve earned it.”
She was one of a small UK team which pioneered a national breast screening service before it was adopted by the NHS in the 1980s and earned a Masters’ degree in Clinical practice.
Ethel retired in 1990 but the quiet life never suited her and within a week she took a position with the NHS Retirement Fellowship (NHSRF) as a member of the Durham branch as she moved back home to the city.
NHS Retirement Fellowship
Formed in 1978, the NHSRF is a social, leisure, educational and welfare organisation for retired caring professionals and their partners to meet and socialise with others who are new to having time on their hands.
Through activities such as golf away days, walks, book clubs – and even group holidays – it enables couples, single or widowed members to enjoy some company in their hobbies and on their travels.
Deborah Jenkins MBE, chair of South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “I’ve been enormously impressed by the wealth of experience and talent in the Fellowship. It’s important to realise that people who worked for the NHS can continue to be a vital resource for the health and wellbeing of our communities. I’m looking forward to working with the NHSRF in the future on several projects.”
Leigh Elliot, NHS Retirement Fellowship Regional Development Officer: “There are more than 200 branches of the Fellowship throughout the UK and we’re always keen to welcome new members.
“The Fellowship is also interested in starting new branches in any area and would love to hear from anyone who might be interested in starting one with a few friends.”
Time to retire for good?
Speaking about her lifelong association with the NHS, Ethel commented: “I was there at the birth of the NHS and have lived and worked in almost every major city in the UK.
“I’ve had the opportunity to work with some incredible people including pioneers in the field of joint replacement and also early diagnosis of all the health problems for patients of all ages.
“Our NHS turns 70 in 2018 which will also be my 70th anniversary. It’ll probably be time to retire for good then.”
To find out more about the NHSRF, visit: www.nhsrf.org.uk or call 0191 4232634.