As Spire Leeds Hospital celebrates its 25 year anniversary, some of the staff who joined the hospital back in 1989 share their memories of the early days.
Diane became a member of the nursing staff when the hospital opened in September 1989. Prior to joining the hospital, Diane worked in the cardiac unit at Leeds General Infirmary. She was attracted to the new private hospital because the staffing levels impressed her, an on-site tutor was available for nursing staff and the new job would present her with fresh challenges.
Diane is now a specialist nurse for Spire Leeds Hospital, and a teamleader working in pre-operative assessment.
She says: “The new job enabled me to work much more closely with the consultant surgeons because we were a smaller team. I remember the first cardiac cases, eye surgery, and also, in the early days, elective caesareans. It was wonderful having newborn babies on the wards.
“There was an incredible demand for the hospital’s services in the first few months and we were regularly working overtime, even sometimes sleeping in the hospital between shifts.”
She added: “I’ve really enjoyed my work here, and have many happy memories stretching right back to the opening celebrations. We have fantastic colleagues for support and the hospital is well equipped, ensuring we can offer a wide range of treatment choices and up-to-date treatments.”
After 10 years nursing at local NHS hospitals, Ruth Pashazadeh joined the hospital in August 1989, several weeks before it opened to patients. “I lived in Roundhay in the 1980s and my children went to school locally so when I heard about the new hospital being built, I was keen to apply for a nursing position,” says Ruth.
“After working at a city centre hospital, moving to a hospital set in such tranquil and beautiful grounds was a very welcome change. “For the first few weeks, it was all hands on deck as we worked hard setting up all the consulting rooms and bedrooms before the patients arrived. Ward two, upstairs, opened to patients first, followed shortly by ward one downstairs.”
She added: “One of my earliest memories is struggling to starch my nurse’s hat and tie the dicky bow. The uniform was very different to the one I wore at the LGI and it took some time to get used to it!
“There was a great sense of comradeship in the early days as the hospital was new to all of us. All the doctors and nurses came from different medical backgrounds so with our combined experience, we were able to treat patients from a wide range of specialties right from the very beginning. We were performing complex surgery such as heart bypass grafts from day one!”
Ruth explains why she has stayed at the hospital for so long: “I have always enjoyed working at this hospital – it is large enough to offer variety from a professional perspective but it is small enough to have a nice community feel to it.”
Prior to joining the hospital, Lindsay’s career had included nursing in theatre and a special-care baby unit, as well as roles as a drugs rep and working in a nursing home.
When reflecting on the opening of the hospital, Lindsay said: “I have many happy memories of my early days working at the hospital. It was so pleasant working in such beautiful surroundings which offered four-star facilities to both the patients and staff. The working environment was also very calm which again benefitted both staff and patients.”
“One of the funniest things at first was all the crockery and cutlery kept disappearing. Some patients must have taken a shine to it, and taken a few souvenirs home. A record number of teaspoons disappeared in the first month after opening!”
Explaining why she chose to join the hospital, Lindsay said: “I was missing hands-on nursing and the work ethic of the new hospital team appealed to me. I soon developed a good rapport with the consultant staff and I loved the camaraderie amongst the theatre team.”
“Over the last 25 years, I’ve had the opportunity to strengthen my credentials by undertaking further training and working in a number of different roles – including working in the department for sterilising and decontaminating theatre instruments. What makes the job really exciting is the hospital’s rapid adoption of new and ground-breaking procedures – which provides variety as well as new challenges.”