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.
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
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.
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.
Paediatric ward, Royal Alexandra Hospital, 1940s
A beautifully colourised photograph of an infant’s ward at Royal Alexandra Hospital, now part of Royal Sussex County Hospital. The photograph shows nurses, equipped with face masks to protect the young patients from respiratory infections, bottle-feeding and tending to infants.
The hospital has seen extraordinary change since it opened as Sussex County Hospital and General Sea-Bathing Infirmary. Population growth, technological and medical advances but also social improvement has taken great leaps. When the hospital first opened, life expectancy in the UK was just over 40 years – in no small part due to very high infant mortality.
From the late 19th century onward, immunisation and better healthcare for children rapidly raised life expectancy.
Image courtesy of Brighton & Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust.
Young patient at Royal Alexandra Hospital, 1940s
A colourised photograph of a young girl at Royal Alexandra Hospital, using her foot to read a picture book. We have no records of what she was being treated for. Polio was common in the 1940s, but it is unlikely that it would have caused paralysis of the upper body, rather than the legs. Judging by the fairly healthy-looking smile on her face, it is possible she was on a path to recovery, but was asked to pose for the photo.
Image courtesy of Brighton & Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust.