83-year-old nurse vows to carry on working

One of the UK's oldest nurses has celebrated her 83rd birthday – and vowed to carry on working.
Monica Bulman

One of the UK's oldest nurses has celebrated her 83rd birthday – and vowed to carry on working. Monica Bulman started work aged 19 in 1952 – just four years after the National Health Service was founded.

Monica Bulman
Monica Bulman at Torbay Hospital Picture: APEX

Since then she has clocked up 64 years working for the NHS, treating tens of thousands of patients.

Ms Bulman now works 15 to 20 hours a week on Hutchings ward at Torbay Hospital in south Devon as part of the specialist outpatient surgical clinic team for endoscopy.

Beginning in London

She began her career as a state enrolled nurse at Eltham Hospital in south London.

Two years later she moved to St John's and St Elizabeth Hospital in London, where she qualified as a state registered nurse.

'I love my job, each and every part of it. Being a nurse brings me so much pleasure and keeps me on my toes,' she said.

'The NHS has been a huge part of my life and I wouldn't want it any other way – I'm always happy at work, I just don't have down days when I'm at work.'

Over the years she has seen many changes, including to the uniforms.

The highs and lows of technology

'Nursing has changed a lot over the years, especially the technology, which is wonderful – unless it breaks down,' she said.

'Although we now have much more paperwork to complete, it is fantastic that with the technology we can now look up our patient's X-rays and test results at the click of a button, rather than having lengthy waits for the information.

'Another change that amuses me is years ago the theatre nurses, who were all gowned-up, had to manually thread the needles for surgery, whereas now these all come in packs, pre-threaded.

Glamorous uniforms

'The uniforms have also changed considerably although I have to admit I did prefer our old uniforms, they were much more glamorous.

'I bought a belt to wear with my uniform when I qualified in 1957 – I still have and wear the very same belt to this day.'

After qualifying Ms Bulman stayed at St John's and worked as a staff nurse as well as a theatre nurse until she left in 1959.

Since then, she worked at a number of different hospitals until moving in 1968 to Torquay with her husband and two sons and joining a nursing agency.

In 1978, Ms Bulman started to work at Paignton Community Hospital in casualty as well as for outpatient departments.

No plans for retirement

Reaching retirement age in 1998, she was asked to work as a bank nurse at Torbay Hospital for a few weeks and nearly 20 years later she has no plans to retire.

''My job has kept me going and helped me through some of the toughest times in my life,' she added.