Memories of a young lady student nurse
“I was a student nurse at Leavesden Hospital in the early 1970s. The wards were big, tall, bleak buildings three floors high. They were cold inside with tiled walls.
“While there I met an elderly patient in what they laughingly called an asylum. She had had a baby out of wedlock as a young girl, and had been incarcerated in Leavesden. She had been in there so long that she was institutionalised. No one had thought about what could be done for her. When you spoke with her, you quickly realised that she did not have a mental health issue. She had no contact with the baby, because it was taken away from her. This practice was quite common and when you think about it, it was not so long ago.
“The matron was very strict and we were not allowed to wear a cardigan in the cold weather, but everything was kept very clean in the hospital, and as student nurses we spent a lot of time learning our job on the wards. Our uniforms were very smart with starched white aprons, puff sleeves on our dresses and white hats.
“Among the staff there was a very strong heirarchy. It seemed that the higher up the heirarchy you were, then the less work you did.” – Jolie.