A dedicated Bolton nurse is celebrating 60 years of serving the NHS.

Jean Cummings, 77, began her career as a cadet nurse following a very formal interview in the boardroom of Bolton General Hospital, known today as Royal Bolton Hospital.

She soon became the youngest student nurse of her year group and split her time between the General and the Royal Infirmary to complete placements.

She first put on a uniform on January 1, 1964.

Reflecting on what inspired her to join the NHS, Jean said: “A lot of my family lived locally to Bolton, it was all about being part of the local community and serving them.

“Throughout my career it has been a privilege to be a part of people’s lives to help make a difference.

“The time has flashed by because I have had so many interesting jobs, and every day is different.”

After qualifying in 1968, Jean was offered the opportunity to become a staff nurse before taking on the role of a sister in neurosurgery and A&E at Salford’s hospitals in the 80s.

In that time computers were slowly being rolled out across the NHS, and by the time Jean returned to Bolton and transferred from the Royal to the new A&E at the General in 1996, technology had become a vital tool in providing care and treatment to patients.

The Bolton News: Jean CummingsJean Cummings (Image: Bolton NHS Foundation Trust)

Jean said: “So much has changed over the past six decades, from A&E to research we have seen so many advancements.

“I completed computer studies courses because as a sister in A&E I had to know about the systems.

"It saved us time by not having to pre-write and produce hand-written templates.

“Everything improved because it helped us to communicate with other departments, transferring important documents and information, and at the new A&E in 1996 we were starting to receive digital images from X-Ray which was so important for staff as it meant results could be viewed straight away.”

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Although Jean has looked after countless people in the past, her current work as a clinical research nurse at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust is helping to discover new and better ways to treat illnesses for patients well into the future.

Jean said: “I hope our research improves the future care for patients and that our volunteers enjoy the experience.

“I’ve been involved with cardiovascular studies and testing new treatments with people who have had heart attacks and strokes.

“You can really see the difference in patient care and how it’s all improving outcome for our families for years to come.

“Bolton has a really strong research ethos, and the research that took place during Covid highlighted the importance of our work.

"We’re very well recognised in Bolton for the potential to recruit large numbers of volunteers who all want to do their bit for healthcare.”

The Bolton News: Jean Cummings in the mid 1980sJean Cummings in the mid 1980s (Image: Bolton NHS Foundation Trust)For Jean, the advancements taking place today are in stark contrast to some of the clinical practices at the start of her career.

Jean said: “There have been a lot of clinical changes. We used to have a sterilizer in the centre of the ward where you would put syringes and needles and boil them up so they could be reused on patients.

“Communication has also improved tremendously to help patients understand the care they receive. We’re much better at explaining it in ways they understand so they can be more empowered.”

Formalities on the wards have also shifted since the 60s, even though being disciplined remains an important part of making sure day-to-day tasks are done to the highest standard.

Jean said: “It’s much less formal now, which is both a good and a bad thing. People are able to speak up more freely now.

“One healthcare assistant recently said how they remember me from when I was a Sister in A&E, and how when staff knew I was on shift they said ‘let’s get things done or she’ll be after us’.

“If you don’t get preparations and background right it’s only our patients who will suffer.

"Discipline is needed but the approach must one of encouragement and appreciation for staff who work incredibly hard to do the best for patients.”

Jean is a much-loved and highly respected member of the Bolton NHS family, and amongst some staff is affectionately nicknamed "auntie Jean".

She said it is the "family feeling" that makes Bolton such a special place to work.

If you have a story or something you would like to highlight in the community, please email me at chloe.wilson@newsquest.co.uk or DM me on X @chloewjourno.