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Popular local nurse retires after 48 years service

By Helen Gilbert:
A popular diabetes specialist nurse has hung up her uniform for the last
time after serving 48 years with the NHS.



Dolly Gilbert, 68, from Horley in Surrey began working as a nurse at the age of 20 when her wages were just £36 a month.

The medical worker, who is married to former supermarket department manager Barrie, with whom she shares two grown-up daughters, retired on Thursday [31 January].

“I’ll miss my colleagues and patients very much, she said.  “It’s the end of an era.”

Dolly, who originally hails from Guyana in South America, arrived in the UK on Christmas Eve in 1970.

She rejected a student nurse placement in Brooklyn, New York in favour of
Dorking Hospital and within 18 months had qualified as a state enrolled
nurse before quickly rising through the ranks to Registered General Nurse
(RGN) and Registered Nurse Child Brand (RNCB) grades.

The keen table tennis player, who represents Crawley-based club the
Foresters, then met her husband in 1972 before giving birth to her first daughter in 1975.

“Back there wasn’t very much maternity leave,” Dolly recalls. “I went back
to work when my first child was six weeks old, and three months after my
second daughter was born. I changed my shifts from days to nights so that I
could look after them.”

During the 1990s, Dolly worked as a sister on the children’s ward at
Crawley Hospital before specialising in paediatric and adolescent diabetes
19 years ago.

In 2016 her diabetes team was a finalist in the BMJ Awards, which recognise the inspirational work done by doctors and their teams in the NHS and private practice.

“Dolly always went above and beyond to make a difference, especially
showing empathy and compassion to the children and young people she cared for at the hospital,”
Jane Dickson, chief nurse at Surrey and Sussex
Healthcare NHS Trust, said.

“She was a valuable and inspirational member of staff, who will be greatly
missed by the teams she worked with. We would like to thank Dolly for her
commitment to care and wish her all the best in her retirement”

Dolly, who has volunteered at her local Oxfam shop for the past 30 years, and will now also assist charity Grocery Aid in her spare time, added: 

“I’ve always enjoyed helping people and have met some lovely families over the years. I’m so touched by all the thank you letters and the kind messages
I’ve received. Some patients have said they don’t want me to leave but I
feel like it’s finally time for me to go.  I’ll really miss everyone but
I’m looking forward to travelling a lot more, playing more table tennis and bowls and spending more time in the garden.


Local volunteers drive GPs to essential home visits in Crawley



Image: Dr Phoebe Danes and volunteer Chris Ball.

Local volunteers have stepped up to help drive clinicians to home visits during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The initiative was launched by local GP federation Alliance for Better Care, who have rented black cabs to provide essential transport for clinicians attending patients’ homes. 

The taxis, which have been adapted to make them easier to clean, are driven by volunteer drivers who have come forward via various community Facebook groups.

Thanks to the layout of the cab, drivers are completely separated from the clinician who is also afforded extra space in the cab to put on PPE and write up notes. 

Matt Cullis, practice manager at Leacroft Medical Practice said:

“Our surgery is still open to treat patients, however, home visits have become particularly important for those who are shielding and not wanting to leave their homes. This service saves us time and allows our doctors to travel to appointments in an environment that can be easily cleaned and has room to put on PPE.”

Alliance for Better Care is the GP federation for Crawley, Horsham, Mid-Sussex and East Surrey and so far the project has been rolled out at Leacroft Surgery in Crawley and throughout Burgess Hill, with plans to extend it to East Grinstead and Horley in the coming weeks.

Katherine Saunders, ABC chief executive said:

“We have been overwhelmed with the number of volunteers who have come forward and we’d like to thank them all for offering to support this service. We are, of course, committed to protecting both our volunteers and our clinicians. We insure drivers and carry out all necessary checks while also providing PPE. This is a valuable resource for our clinicians, and increases our capacity to reach more patients.”

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