2023 marks 75 years of the NHS. But, it also marks 40 years since the opening of Newham Hospital. In this, the first in a series, we hear from colleagues who have worked at the hospital over its four decades. We begin with Jacqui Seaton, a clinical nurse specialist on Rainbow ward who was there the day the hospital opened its doors for the first time.
“Throughout my nursing career, I have had many memorable moments to look back on, but one of the highlights has to be the Queen’s visit to open Newham Hospital in 1983.
“I was a staff nurse at East Ham Memorial Hospital at the time which, alongside Queen Mary's Hospital for the East End in Stratford, was replaced by what we know today as Newham Hospital. I started working at Newham Hospital the year of it opened - I was on Rainbow ward, the children’s ward of the hospital.
“Looking back at the grand opening, I remember there being such a buzz amongst colleagues and people in the wider, local community. Everyone was excited by the idea of a Royal visit and there was a lot of anticipation leading up to it.
“Before we knew it, it was time for the big day. First, he Queen officially declared the hospital open and then she did a walkaround, meeting and greeting staff, and speaking with patients.
“When it was the paediatric team’s turn to meet the Queen, I remember lining up outside of Rainbow ward, along the corridor where she was going to walk down and greet us all. It was an exciting yet nerve-wracking moment for a lot of us as it’s not every day the Queen comes to visit and you get to meet her!
“The most memorable part of the day for me was when the Queen took the time to take a picture with a young patient I was looking after. My patient had done a lovely drawing for the Queen who was more than happy to receive it, and even stopped by to take a picture with her. The patient was so happy and I'm sure that it’s a memory that has stayed with her to this day, as it has me.
“Since the opening, I’ve worked on and off at Newham Hospital. I retired in 2016 in my last post at the Royal London Hospital before coming back to Newham in 2019 where I still work now. I think what always kept me coming back was the community feel – that and the fact that I grew up in the local area and gave birth to my twins there!
“Newham Hospital will always hold a special place in my heart and when I look back on its official opening with the Queen, I remember it being was a great experience for all of us there to be a part of and one I’ll never forget.”