Dr Brian Rhodes, a GP partner at Monton Medical Centre, spoke to NHS Greater Manchester Integrated Care (NHS GM) about how his sister, Sholeh, hit the headlines in 1988 when she became Britain’s youngest person to undergo an NHS operation to give her a ‘new’ heart – at the age of 12.
A pupil at St Patrick’s RC High School, Sholeh went on to live another 18 years, for which the family were forever grateful. Her story was the inspiration for brother Brian to enter the healthcare profession and he reflected on some of the innovations within the NHS which helped his family, and his career as a doctor in the community.
Brian said: “When I was 14, my sister became suddenly very ill following what had seemed like an ordinary sore throat. I remember watching the staff at the former Pendlebury Children’s Hospital taking expert care of her and being impressed by their skills but at the same they were so caring and put my family at ease.
“She then went on to be the youngest patient at that time who had a heart transplant which is the sort of true innovation that is the hallmark of the NHS and what made me think about a career in healthcare and to be a part of our health service.
“The doctor I remember most from being a kid was Jack Borkin, he always seemed to know what to do whoever was ill in the family or whatever was wrong with them. He was a true Eccles legend and inspired me to give it a go.”
Just one of a number of events across the UK to mark 75 years since Aneurin Bevan officially opened Park Hospital (now Trafford General), the first NHS hospital, guests gathered just a stone’s throw away at Urmston Sports Club to celebrate and share stories like Brian’s.
Guests included Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham; Trafford Council Leader Councillor Tom Ross; and Dr Claire Lake, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for NHS GM.
Claire said: “What an occasion to celebrate – 75 years is a significant milestone, and I and many of my colleagues feel proud to be a part of it.
“The NHS has changed considerably over the years, and although not without its obvious challenges, I believe the introduction of integrated care systems will help us to bring health and care organisations together to tackle health inequalities and plan services to better meet the needs of our number one priority – our patients.
“In Greater Manchester, we are well placed to do this thanks to our existing devolution arrangements . As we look ahead, we know we need to embrace innovation so the NHS can deliver better outcomes for our growing population. That means using IT and data more effectively, and getting better at preventing illness, not just treating it.”
Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, paid tribute to the NHS staff across the city region. He said: “As we celebrate 75 years of the NHS, I want to reflect on the profound impact it has had on our society.
“The NHS is embedded in our history as a beacon of hope and a lifeline for millions and, as a former Health Secretary, I saw for myself how cherished it is by those who use it, work in it and support it. Today, we celebrate the remarkable dedication of NHS staff whose hard work and commitment have saved countless lives.
“It’s so inspiring to hear stories like Dr Brian Rhodes who saw what the NHS was able to do for his sister, and wanted to be a part of it. The principle of the NHS is fundamental to who we are as a country and we should all be so proud of it and the remarkable people who make it what it is. Happy 75th anniversary to our NHS.”
Councillor Jane Slater, Trafford Council’s Executive Member for Health and Care, added: “It’s an immense source of pride that our beloved NHS was born right here in Trafford. It’s not just the countless people it has treated over the years, it is the reassurance knowing you can be treated for free that means so much.”
Joining the party on the day were NHS GM staff dressed in nursing outfits from the First World War era and the 1950s as well as children from English Martyrs Primary School in Urmston, African Caribbean Care Centre, Trafford Veterans, The Toy House, patient participation groups and Healthwatch.
As a thank you to English Martyrs, the school was given some NHS75 commemorative coins.
In the meantime, more than 50 NHS staff working in Greater Manchester joined other NHS staff, senior government and political leaders, health leaders and celebrities at a service at Westminster Abbey to celebrate the birthday.
Colleagues from across various parts of Greater Manchester Integrated Care Partnership were selected to attend the Abbey after being shortlisted for awards or who had recorded lengthy service to the people of the city region. The service included an address by NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard.