As the NHS celebrates its 75-year anniversary, Mike Furness-Jones, also 75, has shared the benefits of working for the health service later in life.
Mike was born in July 1947, just under a year before the NHS opened its doors for the first time. He recalls how his mother missed out on this new free healthcare service and had to pay 1 and 6 pence for the midwife to come and deliver him, which was quite an expense at the time!
Having enjoyed a 30-year career managing learning disability services, and working on a homelessness project in Guildford, Mike embarked on a career change in 2020 to join the Royal Surrey County Hospital family and hasn’t looked back since.
As an administration assistant in ophthalmology, Mike works alongside another colleague to support the doctors and patients of the trust’s eye clinic, collecting patient notes every morning and afternoon, and helping the medical secretaries.
Although much has changed since the early days of the NHS, with advances in healthcare, medicine, and technology, Mike still holds a very nostalgic view of the organisation he has grown up with and feels extremely proud to work here. Last year he even braved a skydive to raise money for St Luke’s cancer centre.
Being a people person, Mike thrives on the hustle and bustle of hospital life and is motivated most by the people he works with.
He said: “I love the people I work with, they are a very supportive team. All the consultants, doctors, nurses, and staff get on well and we have a bit of a laugh, which is important.”
Retirement could have come along years ago, but Mike’s younger husband still works, he has a son, daughter, and five grandchildren keeping him active, and couldn’t imagine sitting at home all day.
Employed from the day he left school, Mike’s parents encouraged a hard work ethic, and to this day he believes no matter what a person’s age if they are fit and healthy, they should keep working.
The inclusivity of the NHS and the wide variety of job opportunities available is what Mike feels helps a lot of people his age to keep enjoying working life.
He is also passionate about the mental health benefits of remaining at work, recognising that the busy hospital environment, team spirit, and recognition he receives, does wonders for his self-esteem.
“I’m recognised for making a difference in my role and I am regularly thanked by the doctors and staff, which gives me a great sense of satisfaction.”
What would Mike say to anyone thinking of joining the NHS as they themselves head towards 75?
Mike said: “People should jump at the chance to work for the NHS, it is a wonderful organisation that has been helping people for 75 years and it is so valuable.
"I feel proud to be here, and if I can assist the hard-working nurses and doctors in a small way every day, then I’m doing my bit to make a difference to people’s lives.”