WHEN she joined the NHS as a chef, Sue Long did not expect to spend 35 years in the organisation.
The Solent NHS Trust employee is the facilities and premises manager for St Mary’s Hospital and St James’ Hospital, in Portsmouth.
When I first started, it was about the services and what the service needed but now, it is about the patients’ needs.Sue Long
During her time, she has seen the NHS’ focus shift from services to patients and said she loves going to work every day.
Sue is sharing her experiences of the health service as part of The News’ countdown to the 70th anniversary of the NHS on July 5. We have been asking patients and employees to tell their stories as part of the campaign.
Sue said: ‘Sometimes I can’t believe I have worked in the NHS for so long.
‘I did catering and hospitality at Highbury College so expected to work in hotels or restaurants. To begin with, that was where I wanted to work.
‘Every year, the lecturers put a student forward to work in the NHS and I was chosen, I had never thought about using my qualification in health care.
‘But I love my job and it is amazing to think I have worked for the NHS for half its existence. I have met so many people and worked with them to develop and learn new skills.’
Sue started off as a chef in the main kitchen of St James’ Hospital, in Milton. She said back then, the catering industry was dominated by men and she was one of only two women on the team.
She added: ‘It was very family-orientated, though. It was like a family and we did have a lot of fun together.’
After spending 10 years as a chef, Sue took on a new role and was responsible for catering and facilities across St Mary’s Hospital and St James’.
In her current role as facilities and premises manager, she oversees catering for both staff and patients, security, the porters, cleaning, the reception staff, administration and house-keeping.
Sue said: ‘I want to make sure patients get a good experience while with us.
‘One of the biggest changes in my 35 years is that patients are at the forefront of how we deliver the NHS.
‘When I first started, it was about the services and what the service needed, but now it is about the patients’ needs.
‘The facilities side of it can make a huge difference to patient experience and what they need, so I am proud to be a part of that and what we have achieved.’