Wartime nurse returns to Chase Farm Hospital 65 years after graduating
Last updated 24-Jan-12 13:48
A nurse who began her training at Chase Farm Hospital during World War 2 returned to the Trust this week to share a classic photo and her unique memories with staff.
Phyllis Haddon (who at that time went by her maiden name Hughes) began as a student nurse in 1943, before graduating as a staff nurse in 1947. She then left Chase Farm to become a midwife at Central Middlesex Hospital, later becoming a district midwife in November 1948. Phyllis helped deliver babies in Chase Farm Hospital from 1948 to 1986, and opened the Ridgeway Birth Centre on 25 June 2003; a plaque bearing her name is there to this day. She also used her skills in a GP unit run by community services that opened in the 1970s.
Speaking of her memories of Chase Farm in wartime, Phyllis says: “We used to have a lot of soldiers, we nursed German PoWs too. We had a lot of aero injuries [i.e. downed aircraft], and head injuries because of the Neurosurgery Unit. The doctors – I take my hat off to them – I don’t know how they coped. They were really wonderful.”
Dealing with casualties of war (including D-Day troops) in the days before the NHS even existed isn’t the only memory Phyllis has of Chase Farm Hospital in the 1940s; she also experienced a revolution in medical history during her early career.
“About that time, penicillin was discovered. One serious injury was sent to Oxford as that was the centre, but penicillin was manufactured here daily, in the laboratories. It was given 3-hourly, and we received stocks of it every day.”
Phyllis allowed the Trust to take a copy of her 1947 graduation picture, taken with her fellow nurses and the matrons who taught them, on the roundabout outside the hospital’s Clocktower building. Before she left, a new photograph was also taken, 65 years later, by what is believed to be the same tree. Phyllis was joined in the photograph by the hospital’s current staff (including Modern Matron Ann Brizan) and her husband Reginald.
Director of Nursing Terina Riches said: “Our staff were very pleased to meet with Phyllis and hear about her early days here. Much has changed since 1943, but professional values are timeless and she is an inspiration to us all.”
“Quality of care, sympathy and sensitivity demonstrated by everyone from the ward manager to the cleaners.”More patient comments from NHS Choices
“During my three days stay, I didn't meet one unfriendly employee. Everyone was so experienced, nice and helpful, which made the experience of giving birth less stressful.”More patient comments from NHS Choices