Voice of the week

Image of hands in a circle of various ethnicities



'Voice of the week' highlights some of the rich and varied stories we are recording over the 70 year history of the NHS.






Rose Thompson has worked as a therapeutic radiographer in the NHS for over 30 years. In her interview, Rose talks about her work in both the NHS and the voluntary sector developing cancer information for diverse ethnic groups. This work was motivated by both professional and personal experiences, with her role as radiographer giving her the skills and evidence often needed.

In this excerpt, Rose reflects that although there is increased diversity amongst nurses and doctors in the NHS, in allied health professional roles, such as radiography and physiotherapy, work remains to be done in recruiting, developing and supporting staff in roles.

If you have worked as an allied health professional in the NHS and would like to share your story, contact us now.

Rose Thompson

Listen to Rose reflect on diversity in the NHS.


7 October 2019: "Hidden Armies"

Rosemary Donaldson’s 1957 hospital stay for appendicitis first planted the idea of nursing as a career. After training as a nurse, she went on to work in TB treatment, radium implants, in private nursing and for medical libraries, before being hired in 1999 as medical laboratory assistant at Wythenshawe Hospital, Manchester.

This is where she discovered the NHS’ "hidden army" of staff, who work behind the scenes, carrying out a range of laboratory and scientific tests to support the diagnosis and treatment of disease.

If you work or have worked in biomedical sciences in the NHS, we would love to hear your storyclick here to contact us.


Laboratory at Trafford General Hospital c. 1950s

Listen to Rosemary Donaldson talk about the hidden armies of NHS staff here.

"I worked in the laboratory for just over ten years. I was over 60 when I retired and I learned a lot. In fact, it was an eye opener to me as to how hard the pathology staff worked. Because, obviously, people think about the NHS, they often think about nurses and doctors. And that’s about it. The pathology people of course, they don’t think about, because they’re all working behind closed doors with high-risk samples. And obviously, if you work in a laboratory, you’ve got to have to have a certain amount of security. People can’t be traipsing in and out of the laboratories, but they work very, very hard, and they’re testing thousands of these samples actually, every day, and so many different tests. And of course, the doctors all around the hospital and A&E are waiting around for those results. The turn-around time has to be quite quick; it’s a very disciplined environment. And the people that work there are actually not given as much credit for what they do, I believe, as they should. They’re the hidden army of working people, dealing every day with patient blood samples and urine samples—every single day!—and, of course, they’re not seen by the public at all."


"Waiting to recover" -  30 September 2019

In 2008 Peter McDade was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and had a stem cell transplant using his own cells, taken prior to chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Peter was so bored during his hospital stay after the transplant he had to create a strategy to manage the excessive time required for recovery.

‘Waiting’ in the NHS takes many forms: waiting to recover, waiting for test results, waiting for an appointment or waiting to be seen. If you have an experience you’d like to share click here to contact us.

Peter McDade

Listen to Peter reflect on his time 'waiting to recover'

"Boredom was a real issue when I was an in-patient, particularly after the transplant. The chemo was really intense at that stage. After the transplant, there was no more treatment. There was nothing to do but lie there in a bed all day, waiting to recover. And I’d met up with a friend, she’d been through the same thing a dozen years previously; she was great. She told me what to expect. It was good to be prepared. But she also told me how long she had to stay in hospital after the transplant before she could be released. And I’m quite competitive, so that became my goal: to get out before her. And I think she’d been one of the fairly quick ones, because it can take a long time. In the scheme of things, it didn’t really matter how long it was, but it gave me a target. But still I was so bored. So I got a calendar and every morning I would mark off another day. But that actually became depressing, because the gap between crosses on the calendar was so long. A day felt like a month. My wife had a stroke of genius. She took the calendar home and divided up a day into 24 little boxes, 24 hours. So instead of crossing off day by day, I crossed it off hour by hour. And that was much better. I mean an hour still went by slowly. But I was making progress, putting a cross on a box. And if I happened to wake up after three hours, I had three boxes to cross off [laughing]. So that was marvellous! And just to finish that off, I got off one day earlier than my friend.

Interviewer: I was just about to ask—well done! [laughter]"