News

'Mother hen' nurse retires – after 66 years in the field

One of the UK’s longest serving nurses has finally called time on her incredible career spanning 66 years

One of the UKs longest serving nurses has finally called time on her incredible career spanning 66 years

Monica Bulman started work aged 19 in 1952 just four years after the NHS was founded.

For the past 20 years she has been working as part of the specialist outpatient surgical clinical team for endoscopy on the Hutchings ward at Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust in Devon.

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.

Time to spend with loved ones

Ms Bulman said: The NHS has been a huge part of my life and I wouldnt have wanted it any other way.

However, I have decided that

One of the UK’s longest serving nurses has finally called time on her incredible career spanning 66 years

 

Monica Bulman started work aged 19 in 1952 – just four years after the NHS was founded.

For the past 20 years she has been working as part of the specialist outpatient surgical clinical team for endoscopy on the Hutchings ward at Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust in Devon.

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.

Time to spend with loved ones

Ms Bulman said: ‘The NHS has been a huge part of my life and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

‘However, I have decided that it’s now time for me to put my fob watch and belt away to enable me to spend quality time with all my loved ones.’

The belt in question is almost as enduring as Ms Bulman herself; ‘I bought (it) to wear with my uniform when I qualified in 1957’ she told Nursing Standard in 2016, adding ‘I still have and wear the same belt to this day.'

Recalling her training at St John’s Hospital as she retires, she said: ‘This was my favourite time. After being on night duty, the sister used to give us a cup of cocoa every morning after our night shift.

‘She was our mother hen and guided and nurtured us through our training as well as our personal lives.'

Ms Bulman in 1957

Ms Bulman has seen a lot of changes in nursing over the years including in technology which she described as 'wonderful – unless it breaks down'.

She added: ‘Another change that amuses me is that 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.’

Enjoying every second

Her final day at work was 22 February. Ms Bulman said she has never been unhappy at work and took away many wonderful memories and friendships.

‘I have absolutely loved being a nurse – it has brought me so much pleasure and I have enjoyed every single second,' she said.

‘My job has kept me going and helped me through some of the toughest times in my life.

‘It’s certainly going to take some getting used to with not coming in to work and seeing all my wonderful patients and colleagues.’

Inspiration to everyone

Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust interim chief executive Liz Davenport said: ‘I am sure I speak for everyone at the trust when I say we are incredibly grateful for Monica’s incredible 66 years of dedicated nursing service in the NHS – she really is an inspiration to us all.

‘It’s no mean feat to be one of the longest serving nurses in the country.

‘We wish Monica all the best in her retirement and we’re sure that she will make the most of this new and exciting chapter in her life.’

83-year-old nurse vows to carry on working


In other news

Sign up to continue reading for FREE

OR

Subscribe for unlimited access

Enjoy 1 month's access for £1 and get:

  • Full access to nursing standard.com and the Nursing Standard app
  • Monthly digital edition
  • RCNi Portfolio and interactive CPD quizzes
  • RCNi Learning with 200+ evidence-based modules
  • 10 articles a month from any other RCNi journal

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?

Jobs