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Devoted nurse retires after a staggering 58 years in the NHS

A Surbiton nurse retiring after more than half a decade says she has “mixed emotions” about leaving the NHS and told of the changes she has seen to the service over the years.

Jean Fitzpatrick, 74, has worked in numerous hospitals throughout south-west London, including 31 years at the now-closed Surbiton Hospital, in a staggering 58-year career, having started just 10 years after the NHS was founded.
She walked out of Tolworth Hospital on Friday after her final shift with what she described as “mixed emotions” and has spoken of the challenges future nurses now face.

Mrs Fitzpatrick started on a pre-nursing course in 1958 at just 16 years old and two years later began working at Epsom Hospital, then known as Epsom District Hospital.

Mrs Fitzpatrick moved between the hospital and the Royal Eye Hospital, in Surbiton, also now closed, but found her real home when she moved to Surbiton Hospital in 1980.
She would spend 31 years there until the hospital closed in 2011, to be replaced by a health centre.
About 7,000 people signed a petition against its closure and former Kingston MP Ed Davey campaigned to save the hospital.

Mrs Fitzpatrick described the sadness of seeing a small community hospital such as Surbiton close.
She then moved to Tolworth Hospital for the final years of her career and said she plans to take a well-earned Spanish cruise.

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