Dixon Au was born in Hong Kong in 1979. Dixon is Property Management Services Project Manager at Brighton & Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust (BSUH) and has been an NHS employee since 2004.
Dixon talks about his career as a project officer and projects he has worked on in the NHS. He talks about pay not being equivalent to the work involved yet people stay because of their passion for the NHS, even though workloads are highly pressured.
He talks about the biggest pressures in his job (at the time of recording) being the master planning of the new Royal Sussex County Hospital.
Dixon recounts his daily work routine, which involves a wide range of people, liaising with users and teams, reviewing short to medium term plans for services and improving performance.
Dixon recounts some of his impressions of working at Royal Sussex County Hospital, in particular the architecture of the Barry Building, the Grade I listed Chapel and Thomas Kemp Tower.
He reflects on the original ethos of free care in the NHS and how service delivery has expanded so much (social and mental health, surgical, community, etc.) it has become difficult to achieve to the best possible.
He says his greatest achievement is managing the Sussex Eye Hospital redevelopment (opened in 2016), which he worked on from beginning to completion.
Recorded on 25/09/2019 in Brighton, UK.
Dr Charles Turton was born in East Grinstead in 1947.
Charles begins by talking about his inspirations for working in medicine, including inspirational teachers and a grandmother who was a radiologist.
Charles trained at King’s College London, plus studying for a BSc in Biochemistry ‘in the middle of it’. He recalls it being an enjoyable experience but the accommodation being damp. He decided early on that he wanted to do medicine rather than surgery.
He was first employed at King’s College Hospital, pre-registration house officer, then at The Brompton (International Chest Centre). He remembers there being ‘inspirational people there’, and being determined to do chest medicine. Series of training jobs in London then Brighton.
Became a consultant at Royal Sussex County Hospital in 1981. Remembers many interesting colleagues, including Tony Trafford who took a significant role in treating casualties in the 1984 Brighton bombing of the Conservative Party conference.
He talks about the development of his career, how he was drawn into management, and becoming a consultant member of the Health Authority. He then became first Clinical Director for Medicine, and later Trust Medical Director. He talks about being ‘hugely proud’ of Royal Sussex County Hospital.
Betty Field was born in Brighton in 1932. Betty says her earliest memory of Royal Sussex County Hospital was going to the Barry Building as a four-year-old with her grandmother who had fractured her skull.
She recalls visiting the hospital at the time of the D Day landings with her father to try and find a young Canadian airman who was a friend of the family. She remembers seeing wounded men lying on the floor of the hospital with blood and gore, aged eight-years-old.
Other memories include taking her sons to hospital after accidents in 1957, being confined to hospital with pre-eclampsia and kidney infections, giving birth, making her own yellow silk nightgowns and hysterectomy.
Recorded on 05/11/2019 in Brighton, UK.
Gary Scarfield was born in Brighton in 1954.
Gary recalls a number of memories when needing hospital treatment, at various venues, including Royal Sussex County Hospital. He had his tonsils removed in 1959 aged five, he remembers little more than the ice cream. He also had treatment for a football injury (broken leg) in the 1970s and a sinus operation in 1984.
He talks about having had a stroke diagnosed in 2007, following which he received treatment. He recounts an elongated stay in hospital over five years from 2012, and also talks about a gall bladder removal operation in 2018. Praises the ‘fantastic service’ he has received from the NHS.
Recorded on 18/12/2019 in Brighton, UK.
Dr Douglas Chamberlain was born in Cardiff, Wales in 1931.
Douglas talks about his inspiration for working in medicine, and his route into medicine – training at Queen’s College, Cambridge in 1950, followed by St Bartholomew’s Hospital (1953-56).
After qualifying, he worked for six months at country branch of National Heart Hospital and six months at Royal United Hospital, Bath. Spent a year in Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston for 1 year (1968). A short spell at Brompton Hospital then cardiology department at St Bart’s where he became involved in research on beta-blockers with ICI.
Douglas talks further about his career, including working in Brighton, how doctors would do their own management and administration, evolution of treatment methods and impact of the job on his personal life.
Recorded on 05/10/2019 in Brighton, UK.
Caroline Fisher was born in Berkshire in 1970. Caroline moved to Brighton in 1988 to start her training at the Brighton School of Nursing.
Caroline talks about her training, including routines, patient care and her experience at Brighton General Hospital and Royal Sussex County Hospital.
She recalls her work as a qualified nurse, compares nursing with then and now, including relationships with patients and doctors, changes to uniforms, types of disease and dietary provision.
Recorded on 24/07/2019 in Brighton, UK.
Christine Cooke was born in Chatham, Kent in 1939.
Christine talks about how she became interested in healthcare, including training at Maidstone Technical College and Maidstone General Hospital. Finished training in Canterbury, and was employed by an agency working in Brighton.
Moved to Shoreham in 1976, working at Southlands Hospital where she did general nursing and was staff nurse on the orthopaedic ward. Trained as a Midwife, 1984-86.
Christine recalls her work as a midwife, training as a student, changes in the NHS, her own stays in hospital, and working overseas including in Bangladesh, 1989-92, as a midwife and doing health visitor training.
She talks about doing a MA in Education in primary healthcare at Manchester for one year, following which she worked for Oxfam, six months in Sudan and six months in India. Period of ill-health on return from international work, which was followed by work as a Health Visitor in Shoreham and Lancing until retirement in 2012.
Recorded on 05/11/2019 in Brighton, UK.
Ashley Adsett was born in Brighton in 1952.
Ashley talks about wanting to become a nurse from the age of six, and began volunteering at Southlands Hospital, going on to training in 1970 at University College Hospital, London. She goes on to talk about her training and life in London.
She talks about her career at Royal Sussex County Hospital, including being Ward Sister on Bristol Ward, Christmas celebrations with patients, becoming Sister of the Cancer Centre, plus advancements in medicine she witnessed including keyhole surgery and treatment of cancer.
Ashley talks about donating a kidney to her brother, and how the Renal Unit was efficient, including the follow up.
She recalls winning a competition, which enabled her to visit the American Cancer Nurses Conference in USA, and also met the British Ambassador.
Recorded on 25/10/2019 in Brighton, UK.
Gary Steen was born in Brighton in 1964. He has been working in IT with Royal Sussex County Hospital since 1990.
Gary talks about how he came to work in IT, originally training as an electrician, followed by a role in IT at American Express for five years before moving to London for three years. He returned to Brighton in 1990, for a small IT role at Brighton General Hospital.
Gary speaks about the history of the first computer system being introduced in the early 1980s before he started working in the NHS. The first extensive one was the patient registration system around 1984 (made by ICI), which was housed in two rooms, used a lot of power and had minimal storage; the hard drive was the size of a washing machine. In the early 1990s, only some doctors had PCs.
He talks about the different systems that have been used over the years, the replacement of systems, and the different roles he has had during his employment at Royal Sussex County Hospital.
Recorded on 16/12/2019 in Brighton, UK.
Chris Heape was born in Paddington, London in 1947.
Chris talks about how he became interested in being a radiographer, recalling that he was allowed to sit in on radiography work in Torbay Hospital, and encouraged to take his interest further, culminating in a degree course in Plymouth.
Chris talks about his first job as a locum in Torbay hospital progressing to a job in Brighton. He talks about his memories from the late 1990s, when he started at Royal Sussex County Hospital. He remembers being both on rota and on call, sometimes working 17-hour shifts where he slept in the hospital. X-rays could take from five to 30 minutes depending on the examination. He recalls one operation that went on all day and involved three radiographers.
When he started ‘wet processing’ X-rays were in use, which was followed by replacement with digital radiography, which Chris loved; he talks about how images could now be ‘altered’ and transferred (sometimes abroad) for diagnosis and meant that lower X-ray does could be used.
He recalls his experience as a patient, when he needed double bypass surgery, and says he could not fault the treatment he received.
Recorded on 10/10/2019 in Brighton, UK.
Andrea Finch was born in Malden, Essex in 1972.
Andrea talks of the three years she spent working in the Records Department (primarily within the Medical Secretary’s Office and Cardiac Department) of the Royal Sussex County Hospital Out-Patients Department.
She also touches on her experiences as a patient and as a relative of patients who have attended both the Royal Sussex County Hospital and the Princess Royal Hospital. She enjoyed her time in her job despite the hierarchy, lack of recognition and low salary.
Recorded on 27/08/2019 in Brighton, UK.
Daniel talks about his career, about his interest in engaging with patients and staff of the hospital, and more widely in his work, with scientists, to stimulate work he makes and communicate that work.
He recalls being a patient in A&E in 2019, suffering from a severe allergic reaction following being stung by a wasp. He talks about being monitored for four hours for anaphylactic shock, which can be fatal. He was treated with antihistamines and steroids, and has to now carry an epi pen. The experience has made him appreciate how important the hospital is and says how grateful he feels for it.
Daniel talks more about his experience of making the Crucible mural, speaking to staff and patients about their experiences, including the great storm in 1987, childbirth and the deaths of loved ones.
He speaks about how he feels the hospital is the history of Brighton as well. And finds it difficult to decide what should and shouldn’t be included in the mural.
Recorded on 11/12/2019 in Brighton, UK.
Glenys Myfanwy Horton was born in Birmingham in 1958. She decided to study nursing, following in the footsteps of her best friend.
Glenys begins by talking about her early life, her home life, then about the training as a nurse, which she felt when she trained was very practical compared to academic training today.
She talks about her recent experience of being a patient, following major surgery. She recalls her training days, exams, the quality of the training and her early experiences as a nurse and through her career.
Recorded on 24/07/2019 in Brighton, UK.
Janet Holm was born in Sherborne, Dorset in 1946.
Janet recalls the diagnosis and treatment for gastroesophageal reflux disease (which is where acid from the stomach frequently leaves the wrong way, entering the tube connecting the stomach to the mouth) and her experience at Princess Royal Haywards Heath.
She recounts how the disease affected almost all of her life, including socialising, eating and sleeping, and talks about the various procedures she had to go through that took place over 5-6 years from 2012.
Janet also talks about her experience at A&E at Royal Sussex County Hospital (RSCH) following a fall. She describes the differences between RSCH and Princess Royal in Haywards Heath, saying RSCH was run down while Princess Royal was clean and modern.
Recorded on 26/08/2019 (wrongly stated as 2011 on recording) in Brighton, UK.
Dr John Hartley was born in Sheffield in 1946. He trained at University College Hospital, London to do Clinical Studies, qualifying in 1971. In his final year he did an elective at Hammersmith Hospital Respiratory Department, London. This was followed by experience at hospitals in Newcastle, Cardiff and Brighton & Hove. Working primarily as a Consultant Physician. He specialised in Thoracic (Respiratory) Medicine.
John speaks about his experience studying at Oxford’s Trinity College, where he joined the Literary Society, was a member of the Oxford Union, and recounts his religious beliefs fading at Oxford.
He made the move to London and University College Hospital which he enjoyed. Lived with other medical students from 1969-1971 in places like Muswell Hill. There were no CT or MRI scans then, there were some isotope scans but basic by today’s standards. Patients staying weeks in hospital for what seemed to be a few tests in retrospect.
John speaks about moving to Basingstoke, Newcastle and Cardiff, prior to moving to Brighton in 1981, where he started working in Brighton as a Consultant in General and Respiratory Medicine. He talks in detail about his experience of working in Brighton, advancements in medicine, and his own experience with prostate cancer.
Recorded on 11/12/2019 in Brighton, UK.
Dr John Quin was born in Glasgow in 1961. He trained at the medical school at Glasgow Royal Infirmary in 1978-83, later becoming Registrar before moving to London, followed by Brighton in 1994.
He recalls influences that drew him to medicine being the shows he watched when he was young, such as ‘Dr Kildare’ and ‘MASH’.
Speaks about his career developments in Glasgow, the work there and colleagues, and how junior doctors were expected to work “ridiculous” hours.
Talks about his career at Royal Sussex County Hospital (RSCH) between 1994 and 2016, during which he became Associate Dean and was elected to Royal College of Physicians. He recalls his career at RSCH, including technological and medical advancements that took place and were implemented, including treatment of HIV and MRI scanners being introduced. He also comments on the ever increasing age of patients.
Recorded on 06/01/2020 in Brighton.
Kathy Wilson was born in Brighton in 1963. She worked at Royal Sussex County Hospital as an x-ray darkroom technician in the mid-1980s, prior to digital technology being introduced.
Kathy says her motivation for joining the NHS was her mother, who was a nurse. She was drawn to human biology via her fascination with her mother’s anatomical textbooks.
Kathy talks about her five-and-a-half-year career as a darkroom technician, which she said she used to progress to a job as a medical secretary.
She talks later about being a patient, including having dental work and knee surgery. And the hospital hierarchy being much less complex when she was employed by the NHS than it is now.
Recorded on 29/08/2019 (date incorrect on recording) in Brighton, UK.
Ken Broomfield was born in Edinburgh in 1943. Ken was a Patient at Sussex Eye Hospital and Royal Sussex County Hospital, and the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Sick Children in the 1940s.
He describes having regular check-ups at the eye hospital and being diagnosed with a weak eye around the age of four. He talks about the process of checking children’s eyes if a child didn’t yet know the alphabet.
Ken recollects his time in the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Sick Children due to removal of tonsils and adenoids, and compares the difference between being treated in the present and as a child mid-20th century.
Recorded on 07/10/2019 in Brighton, UK.
Louise Wells was born in 1975, Dumfries, South West of Scotland. She has lived in Brighton since 2007. Louise talks about her experience of treatment following a spontaneous cerebrospinal fluid leak in 2015, both at Hurstwood Park and Royal Sussex County Hospital.
She recalls the different investigations that took place, including MRI and CT scans, and treatments including anti-clotting injections, which felt like bee stings.
While receiving treatment, patients were moved from the Neurology Inpatients Unit from Hurstwood Park to Royal Sussex County Hospital (RSCH). She says she was sad to leave Hurstwood Park because it felt much more like home, more private and you felt more like an individual.
She recalls the porters at the RSCH being humorous. Having a lot of banter. She says this took her mind off being the focus of attention, which was a welcome relief.
Recorded on 19/07/2019 in Brighton, UK.
Mary Funnell was born in Brighton in 1953. She worked as an Auxiliary Nurse on the Maternity Unit of the Royal Sussex County Hospital from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s.
She recalls her experiences of working there, including the daily work routine, how she cared for babies, interactions with colleagues, descriptions of the uniform, and witnessing the aftermath of the Brighton Bombings. She briefly recalls being a patient when she had her tonsils out.
Recorded on 15/10/2019, Brighton, UK
Mike (Michael) Ivan Stanbridge was born in Hackney, London in 1936. Mike recalls his first time in a hospital was when he was around five years old, after breaking his arm falling off a bicycle. He remembers having fun on the children’s ward and being there for three weeks.
He was admitted to Royal Sussex County Hospital following a heart attack in 2017. He was treated with a quadruple bypass. Mike recounts his experience of having an ECG, and the process leading up to the surgery, including consultations with surgeons.
Mike says the food in hospital was adequate, with a variety of choices including lots of vegetables.
Recorded on 24/08/2019, Brighton, UK.
Nicola Benge was born in Paddington, London in 1974. Her experience recalls being a first-time mum and giving birth at Royal Sussex County Hospital.
Nicola speaks about going into labour early, which started after doing pregnancy yoga. Following an evening of contractions, Nicola contacted the hospital to get checked. After four days of not progressing, she decided to go into hospital. She remembers arriving around 10pm at night and going into the birthing pool, the stars were out and music was on and everything felt like it was going to be okay.
A consultant decided a caesarean was necessary, which happened very quickly. Because her son was early, he was taken to the The Trevor Mann Baby Unit, and Nicola talks about staying in an ensuite room at the unit.
She also recalls being knocked off her bike and responding badly to anaesthetic. And talks about the generosity of the staff at Royal Sussex County Hospital.
Recorded on 28/08/2019, Brighton, UK
Pamela Finch was born in 1943 in Derbyshire. She had a squint as a child and was a regular visitor to Sheffield Children’s Hospital as an outpatient for treatment.
Her experience of Royal Sussex County Hospital has been as a regular outpatient, as a visitor to the Sussex Eye Hospital every two months. She commends the excellent service and staff on each visit.
Pamela speaks about her condition, which is a macular occlusion, a blockage in her eye, which needs regular treatment. She talks about ‘floaters’ in her right eye and the treatment she has received.
She also speaks about having a liver scan at Amex Stadium, where they have equipment. And her various experiences of staff at the Eye Hospital, and giving birth at other hospitals in England.
Recorded on 24/08/2019, Brighton, UK
Richard Spong was born in 1953, Windlesham, Surrey, and has lived in Hove since 2007.
Richard was admitted to A&E at Royal Sussex County Hospital after fainting on the kitchen floor at home. Following scans, Richard was diagnosed with having a very rare condition, a tumour on his pituitary gland known as Adenoma.
Richard talks about the various procedures that were undertaken at the hospital, including CAT scan, lumbar puncture and various blood tests, plus his stays on different wards.
Being moved around to different parts of the hospital made quite an impression. The Respiratory Ward was Victorian in design with very high windows and when the wind was blowing in the wrong direction there were ghostly howls. The driving rain from the south west hammered at the windows, and was atmospheric. When possible, his wife would go with him because he was still suffering from confusion. He talks about wandering around some of the oldest parts of the hospital. The corridors contained old historical records from years ago.
He says he is a bit evangelical about the need for the NHS. He says in general people are complacent about their health and don’t realise the impact of a life changing condition and the importance of the NHS. Perhaps, if they were exposed to the American medical system, they may realise how fortunate they are and how important the NHS is.
Recorded on 19/07/19, Brighton, UK
Shirley Roopwarti Williams
Shirley Williams was born and educated in Guyana, South America, and moved to Britain in 1961, where she commenced staff nurse training at Brighton General Hospital for three years. She moved to London for a year to undertake midwifery training before returning to Brighton.
Shirley talks about her first impressions of Brighton General Hospital, it being like a maze and unnerving, and having to get hold of her nerves.
She also talks about meeting her husband at the hospital, who worked in catering, and had two sisters who were also nurses living at the nurse home on the hospital site.
Recorded on 14/09/20, Brighton, UK
Peter Saunter started working at Royal Sussex County Hospital at the age of 57. His wife also came to work there for a period, when she was volunteering for the WRVS (the Royal Voluntary Service welfare branch). The camaraderie between the porters, and between the porters and other staff, from nurses to surgeons, are key themes in Peter’s interview. Several memories describe funny incidents involving staff and porters, and in one, Peter talks about a patient who laughed so hard they fell out of bed.
Peter had a telescope that his colleagues, even surgeons, used to survey the surrounding area. He describes how consultants and surgeons looked after the other staff as well as their patients – on one occasion, a surgeon diagnosed a surgery that Peter needed while busy with a patient, and consultants were generally very kind to staff when they were ill.
In 1984, at the time of the Brighton bombings, Peter ran the crew of porters. Afterwards, he received a letter from Margaret Thatcher thanking him for what he did during the bombing incident.
Peter’s only complaints was about the food, which he says was not very nice – if he were in charge, this is the first thing he would change.
Ruby Grimshaw (in two parts)
Ruby Grimshaw (born 1939) worked as a Physiotherapist and later Superintendent Physiotherapist at Royal Sussex County Hospital 1962-2004. During this period, she also worked in Switzerland and Hong Kong, and ran antenatal classes until the cuts to services in the 1990s. Her interview is rich in detail of her work experience, differences and developments in treatment during her career, reflections on what her work meant to her, and the difference in how physiotherapists are trained then and now.
Ruth Simmons (born 1954) gave birth at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in 1980, and talks about the days leading up to the birth of her second child, and her stay at the hospital. Including a description of prenatal care, her experiences during labour, and what it was like staying at the hospital. Plus the difference in the amount of paperwork you had to do and the relative lack of choices in comparison with the present day. Ruth is now a volunteer at the hospital, and describes what that means to her.
Ted Knight (born 1933) worked for Brighton Corporation Water Works for 42 years, with Royal Sussex County Hospital being one of his main sites. Ted also attended the hospital as a patient on three occasions; for a back injury and kidney troubles in the 1960s, and for an eye injury in the 1970s. He speaks very highly of the care and RSCH nurses in his interview.