Your memories of the NHS in Southampton over the past 70 years | News

  1. Contrast:

Social media icons

 Follow us on Facebook  Follow us on Twitter  

Your memories of the NHS in Southampton over the past 70 years

A still life photo saying 'Happy Birthday NHS!' with medicine, a stethoscope, thermometer, pen, clipboard and birthday present

2018 marks 70 years of the NHS. To help us celebrate the NHS in Southampton, we have been gathering local stories and memories. 

Thank you to everyone who has shared a story so far, we have loved hearing how the NHS has supported you and your family over the years. Below is a selection of the great memories we have received so far.

We will be continuing to gather Southampton stories throughout the year to mark 70 years of the NHS, so if you have something to share we would love to hear from you. 

To share your story you can:

  • email us on
  • phone us on 023 8029 6038
  • or write to The Communications Team, NHS Southampton City CCG, NHS Commissioning HQ, Oakley Road, Millbrook, Southampton SO16 4GX.

Please note that your story may be used as a quote on public materials that we may produce during the year, this could include printed and online materials. If you would like to find out more please contact us using the above details.

Thanks for your support, we look forward to hearing from you.


“It was the 23rd of December and I’d been in labour for almost 24 hours. When we left home and arrived at the deserted labour ward in Princess Anne, a student midwife called Corinne introduced herself. She examined me thoroughly, made me tea and toast, got me Gaviscon and spent the early hours of the morning checking my baby’s heartbeat every 15 minutes without fail while I tried to sleep.

She was calm and patient and told me how well I was doing and how great my deep breathing was through my contractions. Much later I was moved out of Corinne’s care and onto another ward. Lots of other midwives helped me that day, and finally a surgical team hauled my baby into the world when it became clear he needed some help to arrive. I am grateful to them all. But it is Corinnne who sticks in my mind, Corinne who came to find me after her shift ended and told me I was not a failure when I broke down and asked for an epidural after over 36 hours of labour without pain relief. I don’t remember if I thanked her, so today I’m saying #ThankyouMidwife and wondering if she’s now a fully fledged midwife teasing some other tiny troublemaker into being.

I sincerely hope so.”


“My name is Kamla Kumar.  My parents were originally from India but Trinidad became their home and this was where I was born.

In 1964, when I was 20 yrs. old, I arrived in Southampton docks on the SS Monserrat.  The journey from Trinidad took 21 days.  I had written in advance to Southampton NHS to tell them I had done first aid courses with the British Red Cross and that I wanted to train as a nurse in England. 

When I arrived in Southampton I phoned the number I had for the Matron, who was a very kind and helpful lady, and she told me to get a taxi to Moorgreen Hospital.  This is where my training began.  In those days, people were given 3 – 6 months work training in different clinics and hospitals around the city so that they would have experience in a variety of health care settings before they started their full time nurse training.

After 2 years of doing this I began my training and eventually I became a fully qualified SRN.  I worked for several years at the Royal South Hants Hospital then I chose to become a Community Nurse, working mainly night shifts.   I drove around Southampton, Botley and Totton looking after patients in their homes. 

Although I missed home in the early days, I was very happy nursing in Southampton and I met my husband here, (who settled over here from Fiji), in this city and I still live in the same house where we began our married life.”


“Our memories are very recent but for the last 7 years our family has been supported by the local NHS in Southampton. 

Our son has been in and out of hospital since he was 4 months and eventually diagnosed with Asthma.

We see the same consultant at every check up, Coast team, children's asthma nurse in the community and of course our GP.

During this time we have had many paramedics to our door and everyone has been caring and helpful.

Our most recent ambulance was last week and they were amazing.

Love the NHS.” Bethan Murphy 


“I was injured in an air raid when I was a child and it was hard for my mother and father to afford medical care because there was no NHS then. Since the NHS began, I’ve had my appendix out, a C-Section, a perforated bowel repaired, a hysterectomy and a new knee and members of my family have had treatment for cancer. I wouldn’t be sitting here now, nor them, if there was no NHS.

But I can’t get an appointment with a GP – and the new Hub appointments are a good idea.”


“My name is Margaret Sibthorpe and I am from Zimbabwe.  My mother was black and my father was white Irish.  The politics and the regime made life very hard in Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) and I tried for 12 years to get away from there in order to come and live in the UK.  Eventually, in 1997, on the strength of my Irish grandfather’s birth certificate, succeeded in being able to stay in Southampton.  By this time I was 60 years old and the day after I arrived, I got a job in a factory.  I retired at 65. 

It is good to have the NHS but nowadays I find it very stressful to cope with GP appointments;  you have to wait some weeks to get one and then when you arrive for the appointment, you know you have a very short time to see the GP in.  This makes me feel anxious so I recently decided the way to overcome this is ‘self care’.  Now, I check on the internet and on Youtube for information on minor illnesses and then I go and see my pharmacist who is very helpful.”

Thank you to everyone at Southampton General Hospital

“After the hip replacement my husband received what I can only describe as exceptional care, the staff were supportive, empathetic and caring to the enth degree. The whole team at this hospital from Chief exec to cleaners need to be recognised for the way they work collectively for a very positive outcome. This experience has been life changing (not an exaggeration), for the first time in many years my husband is mobile, pain free, off all medication and walking without use of any aid. Sorry to sound so 'gushing' but I find it hard to express our gratitude to all concerned. Thank you”


“I go to the RSH hospital to the In Health hearing people. My grandson helps me to arrange patient transport for the appointments. I can hear thanks to In Health’s help.”


“I have had lots of tests and referrals made by GPs over the years. Each one has helped me to move on and get better. Wonderful NHS. We wouldn’t live as long and as well as we do without it!”


“My name is Roda Nyathi and I fled from Matebeleland in Zimbabwe in 2001.  I arrived in Southampton as an Asylum seeker.  There were many people like me arriving at the same time and unfortunately we could not work until we got indefinite leave to remain, and by the time I got this, I was too old to work!.  It took a while but eventually I became a British citizen and I own a British passport. 

The NHS is good.  They do their best.  There was no service like this where I came from.  Every so often I go for appointments for my hip and for my heart, but otherwise I am healthy and I don’t need to use the NHS a lot.”


“I live in Chapel and I am a patient at St. Mary’s surgery and with College Keep.

They are really good to me.

I attend the Thursday drop in group at St. James Church.  I like the people there and I can get help and also NHS information.” Mary.


Department Cardiovascular and Thoracic cardiology division D
“In Southampton we are very lucky to have such a wonderful cardiology department. What I liked about this department was that my care was personalised and I was involved in planning my care.

The consultant Dr. J Paisey called me from the waiting area by my name and then shook my hand. This made me feel at ease and my nerves dropped from 100% to 20%. This just goes to demonstrate that simple things matter to the patient.

Thank you Dr. Paisey” Anne Cato

Mr Cahill

“The treatment for my prostate and bladder cancer has been excellent and aftercare has been brilliant.”


Bitterne Park Surgery
“GP very approachable and good with my child. I felt she gave sensible advice and appropriate follow up care.”

I love my work – I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else

“I’ve worked for the NHS as a house keeper all my life – first at Moorgreen and now the NHS. I love my work – I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else.”


“Towards the end of 2014, I was made redundant.  It was a shock and at that stage of my life, I was very worried that I wouldn't be able to get another job.  I tried hard to find work but kept getting turned down and I became very depressed.  Eventually I was referred on to a psychiatrist; those months were a low time in my life. 

Time went on, and as part of the rehab therapy available, it was suggested I might like to volunteer one of two days a week at a charity shop, and was introduced me the Sue Ryder charity.  To begin with I stayed back in the store room area; I felt too embarrassed and anxious to be seen in the shop itself.  After a few months, they persuaded me to come and help out on the till and I slowly realised I was coping. I began to enjoy feeling like I had some responsibility again and that I was socialising again. 

I increased my volunteering hours at the shop and the charity enabled me to take up an NVQ course.  The skills I gained from the course and my personal experience of living with and overcoming depression were hugely beneficial and within a year I became the Volunteer manager at the shop.  

Around this time, I met Anne Cato who had long recognised the needs of adults experiencing mental health issues and needing and support.  She was working hard to get a group off the ground in the St. Denys area, so  I joined Anne's team of volunteers and, three years on, we have a thriving weekly group with about 30 regular attendees.  

The group offers a chance to socialise, have  lunch, take part in activities, do Tai Chi and get help with every day needs - its a life line to many of its members.  People come to us with a wide variety of needs and it takes time to gain their trust.  It is rewarding to see them gradually gain confidence and start to chat with others and feel like they are part of society again.  Jill from the CCG visits us and her guidance has been really valued. Her contributions have been helpful and we have made appropriate changes which have helped us a lot. 

I can really identify with the loneliness felt by people experiencing mental health difficulties;  it can be so easy to feel you are avoided by others, that you can't cope and that you have no value in society; the St. Denys Activity Group helps get people back on their feet and gives them hope.

I am thrilled to be able to say that I have just managed to secure employment with Southern Health as a Support Worker to clients at College Keep.  I am really looking forward to starting this job in July and helping others.  If you had told me back in those early days of my journey that one day I would be working in this field, I might never have believed you!  I have been helped by the NHS and now I will be working for them.

We need to be open to the paths our lives take, to look beyond some of the barriers people put up to shield themselves from rejection, and to see one another with compassion and understanding.”

Physio self-referral service

“Physio self referral service was excellent. Easy form online, very friendly staff and easy exercises to follow.”

Hub appointments sound good

“We come from India. My wife and I work at the university but we have found it hard to understand where to go when the Dr’s surgery is closed. We are happy with our GP and we think Hub appointments sound good.”

Ms Gorton

“Had recent endoscopy (at the NHS Treatment Centre). Very frightened and staff very reassuring. The sedative was fantastic and I would not be afraid to have the procedure again.”


“In 2000 I had a massive stroke and was in the Southampton General Hospital (SGH). My care on the ward was good, but it wasn’t for the lady in the bed next to me. I felt terribly sorry for, but I think SGH has improved over the years. All my Rehab was dealt with at Victoria House. They were fantastic . They taught me to speak again. When you have a stroke it truly helps to keep a positive attitude: “I will get better”, and to keep doing the exercises they give you.”


“I had Polio at 2 years old (1954). I had extensive surgery (orthopaedic) in the Lord Mayor Treloar Hospital (Alton) – sadly no longer – from the age of 2yrs old. Most of my childhood was spent in or visiting hospitals - the Royal South Hants for physio. This is just a short resume of my experiences.”


“A recent research programme featured on TV showed the major difference between length of life between males of the north and males of the south of this country – around 2000 men in the north die prematurely. A psychiatrist said there had to be major socio-economic reforms. In 1948, Dr Sakoschantz from Sholing was promoting the same, as a responsibly managed NHS should be for humanity. He was an excellent Dr.”

A story from a member of the Chinese Association of Southampton

"I retired from my position as a Midwife with the NHS in 2006.  I came to the UK with my parents – we were first generation here in the UK from Hong Kong.  They ran a chip shop and in the late 60’s. In the early 70’s I began my training as a student midwife.  My parents were so proud of me when I qualified.

In those days, many of the Chinese women giving birth in NHS hospitals were first generation and it was part of our culture back home to be very vocal when we are giving birth!  Back home there was not the same pain relief which is offered here in NHS hospitals and women would scream to help them manage pain.  Whenever a Chinese lady was giving birth at the hospital where I was training, I would be asked to come and help with interpreting and one thing the midwife would always ask me was to please tell the lady to use the gas and air.  But the ladies never would – and their screaming could be heard all around the hospital! The Midwives would ask me:  “Are you sure you speak the same language as this lady? She doesn’t seem to understand about the gas and air!”  I would try to explain that I had offered this to the ladies but it wasn’t their custom to use gas and air in childbirth.  Also, in those days, because so many of these ladies were working in the catering trade and didn’t have the opportunity to learn English, they were not attending pre natal classes, (which were all in English), and they did not have older family members with them to guide them, and they didn’t know what to expect when the time came for their baby to be born.  When I think back over this time, I smile to myself – births could be very noisy!  Nowadays, it is different  and all women understand about pain relief.

What I want to say is that we should treasure our NHS.  I am always grateful for the opportunity the NHS gave me;  it taught me English, it gave me a career and a livelihood, I was able to bring up two children who also benefited from NHS care.  And people showed me great respect because I was nursing in the NHS."


"I am the Project Manager at Newtown Support & Information Centre with The United Voice of African Associations (TUVAA). I am a qualified Counsellor & Psychotherapist, working with children and young people and was the Chair of the Gambia Society. Several years ago the NHS Engagement Officer came along to one of our meetings and members who had been experiencing difficulties accessing NHS service found this visit very useful. Since this time we have always kept contact with the Officer and this relationship has proved mutually helpful to our community and for community engagement with the CCG.

I soon discovered that a group of women from a fairly isolated community who had been coming regularly to the Centre, were keen to learn basic computer skills, so we incorporated this help into the drop in sessions, with conversational English practice too. 

The NHS Engagement Officer visits the group, helping the women to understand more about local NHS services and listening to their concerns and experiences with hospitals, doctors, and dentists.

We have also held family fun days in the school holidays with NHS health and other types of wellbeing information stands which have sparked further interest.  Many of these women are from Afghanistan and have had limited experience of health services before arriving in the UK, so it is helpful to have someone visiting from the NHS who can advise about the different services and clear up some of the confusion and help them to learn new English vocabulary as well!  

I discovered that the women really wanted to learn First Aid and The British Red Cross, have been running Community First Aid training classes at the centre.  This group has made great progress and are all on target to get certificates in basic First Aid skills, with several wanting to go on to more advanced levels of First Aid training.  The women now feel more confident to be able to help their children, and even people they encounter day to day, if a medical emergency arises.  I feel we have created a first generation of women who will go on to impart their learning to others and be empowered to care for their family’s health. 

We never could have imagined in the early days of this information drop in service that we would also be part of improving people’s health in the future."  

Thoughts on mental health care over the years

"Forty years ago, my twins were born by caesarean section at Southampton General Hospital.  If it hadn’t been for the quick thinking and the skill of the doctor at that time, my son would not have survived, so I am thankful to NHS care for their treatment.

I really want to say that the NHS is great all round but my experience over the years, for me and for another family member, has been that there is no proper help mental health care.

A  GP’s time is so limited in an appointment nowadays and you always feel like you are being rushed in and rushed out again.  They don’t have time to listen to the patient and they seem to always end up saying everything is ‘stress related’ or ‘down to stress’. Surely there are more reasons and more help out there – not everything is ‘down to stress’? 

If there was better mental health care available on the NHS I would be able to say they are great all round, but I’m afraid this is the field they fall down in."

Care for diabetes and living with deteriorating sight

"I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in my 20’s, then in 2006 I discovered I had Diabetic Retinopathy. I have a particularly aggressive retinopathy and I know that I am losing my sight, but I continue to receive great care at Southampton General Hospital’s Eye Unit.  Over the years I have undergone 12 laser operations along with cataract and gel removal surgery and I cannot fault the care they have given me.

When I first found out about my sight loss, I went along to Southampton Sight and did a training course with them and received lots of helpful practical advice and gadgets to make it easier to cope day to day when you are losing your sight. They recommended me to Guide Dogs for the Blind, though I have never owned a dog in my life before, so I felt uncertain at first that this would be the right step for me.  Its costs about £56,000 to train and provide a guide dog to a visually impaired person so as you might imagine, Guide Dogs for the Blind, are incredibly thorough.  The follow on care and support they give you once the right dog has been found and you have both bonded is fantastic.

I am now a volunteer with Guide Dogs for the Blind and I go and speak to groups and raise awareness about their work.  I tell people that thanks to the NHS  care I get and my guide dog, living with deteriorating sight has been made much more manageable."

Kidney transplant and living with diabetes and bipolar

"I began receiving psychiatric care in 1984 due to work related stress, and by 1988 I was being prescribed Lithium.  It was discovered after a few months that I was on the incorrect dosage of Lithium and unfortunately this affected my memory capacity and also my kidneys.

By 2003 both my kidneys failed and I had to start dialysis.  I continued with this treatment until 2005 then on November 11th that year, I received 2 new kidneys.  The transplant and the treatment I got with the NHS were excellent.

Then in 1999 I was diagnosed with diabetes and I am pretty well looked after in terms of this treatment.

In 2014 I discovered I was Bi Polar and the health care I receive for this is very limited."

Two stories from a member of Southampton Chinese Association

"I really think NHS staff are excellent, especially the nurses who looked after my daughter in June 2017 at University Hospital Southampton for an operation to clear the burst appendix. A doctor had wrongly diagnosed her problem so an emergency came about and the nursing staff gave good care and attention when she was miles from her home in Loughborough. Thank you NHS."

"In 2016, Alvin came from Hong Kong to study at University. Shortly after coming here, he had a terrible motorway accident and he was air lifted to University Hospital Southampton. We didn't know if he would make it. I sat outside the operating theatre for 5 hours waiting to find out. Thanks to life saving and fantastic NHS care, he made it and he is now fully recovered.  He has completed his degree and next month his parents are coming over from Hong Kong for his Graduation."

A story from a member of Southampton’s Polish community

"When I came to England in 2004, I met your Engagement Officer through Sure Start and she helped me with NHS services for post natal depression, for parenting support and for my kidney problem.  My husband and I have continued to live and work in Southampton and I had a kidney and a pancreas transplant. 

Now I just had my second baby."

Starting a family in Southampton

"We started our family here in Southampton. The support from the midwives and the health visitors from the NHS to a young couple like me and my wife was amazing. They were always on our case from conception to after birth maternity support. They were very professional and helpful. In addition, my local community and my family benefitted from your NHS community engagement work as relevant information about your services became accessible to us through your community engagement worker. Personally, my community projects with IKAN, Gambia Society, TUVAA and West Itchen Community Trust have benefitted immensely through local NHS community engagement work."


"My mum was the first NHS patient of our doctor, in those days he would wing by to have a cup of tea to see how she was doing."

NHS & Me

"People would think that because I have two disabilities arthritis and cerebral palsy, that I’d be the biggest critic of our health system. What people forget that the NHS like us in that the idea and vision is great, but the execution is tough to execute.

Which is our challenge and a society to be an example and continue through the darkness in order to see the sunrise, this is true in any venture in life.

Due to NHS I’m alive and over achieved physically and mentally and made me appreciate this fragile thing known as life. My grandad had Multiple Siroccos and I thank the NHS for the time I had with him and the dignified end he was allowed.

The same can be said for a lot of my friends who are no longer here. Due to NHS there spirit lives on in every terminally ill patient that survives, goes on and lives life.

The NHS lives through are changing views in a now ‘fluid’ and tolerant society, with each step forward in medical technology is the NHS, every person who helps someone more in need is delivering the true message of not just the NHS, but British society in the modern age.

Which is not those of the ‘have’s’ and ‘have nots’ but everyone ‘has’ what they need regardless of situation. More importantly everyone is shown the currency of kindness which is priceless. This is what I believe is at the heat and construct of the NHS."
Shaun Shears MA, 
Singer Songwriter,
Author, Journalist, 
Writer, Actor,
Charity Fundraiser,
Arts Company Founder,


"I remember the days when the patients we all in their beds lined up, no one could sit on the beds and the matron was very strict! All the patients were in their pyjamas, it was actually a bit frightening for visitors. Much more relaxed today and flexible. It’s a wonderful service which has not only saved my life but that of my husbands – several times. Long may it continue."


"‘Tearooms and milky tea’ my father was diagnosed with a large brain tumour in the 1970’s and spent months in St. Georges in London. My memories are that of the intensive and appropriate care he and my family received over 6 months of many. As a child I only remember the stern ward sister and the magnificent view of the Thames, as well as the very hard coconut macaroons."

Chat Live now!

Can we help with anything today?

Sorry no one is available currently