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Page last updated at 08:05 GMT, Wednesday, 2 July 2008 09:05 UK
NHS at 60: One nurse's story

As the NHS celebrates its 60th birthday, Newsbeat is running a week of special reports about how different people experience the service.

Today, A&E nurse Ray Middlemiss, 28, gives a personal account of life at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh - one of the biggest and busiest A&E wards in the UK.

Ray Middlemiss
Family affair: Ray's sister is a NHS physiotherapist and her mum was a nurse

My mum loves listening to what I've been up to at work. A lot has changed since when she first did her training.

I sit with my mum who talks about the 'good old days' of the NHS but she'll never put it down because she recognises that times have changed and there is a greater demand now for the NHS.

Mum will tell me about days when nurses sang carols to patients at Christmas time but today the NHS just doesn't have the staff. I'd love to see more staff.

The worst thing about being a nurse is a seeing young people pass away
Ray Middlemiss

I've worked as a nurse in New Zealand. They have a similar health care system to us in the UK but they are definitely behind.

I think we have a better system actually, it's a shame people just keep attacking it.

Ray Middlemiss
Ray doesn't think the NHS should be like the American system

Recognition is great. The most satisfying thing is when patients are grateful to the staff.

You can meet some of the most ungrateful people but also some of the nicest people here. I don't think you can experience this anywhere else.

The worst thing about being a nurse is a seeing young people pass away. It makes you more aware of your own mortality.

I do go home and think about it, about whatever has happened. I think it's healthy to do that but you learn to cope with experience of the job.

When it comes to aggression, that is becoming very common. I wouldn't dream about going into someone's work and being rude to them so why should someone do it to me?

Ambulance men
Ray works alongside ambulance men John Lyall and Ian Walkman

Complaining is fine but when you get aggressive that's just wrong. People see us walking around and think we're not doing much.

You can wait in the waiting room but you don't see what really goes on and all the hard work that the doctors and nurses are doing. At the end of the day we're just here to work hard and do a good job for you.

I don't think that if we paid for our health service, it would be any better. When you go private it's still the same nurses and doctors and when things go wrong it's the NHS that fixes it.

I hope the NHS doesn't get privatised or like the American system. I hope the NHS has a future, we don't know how lucky we are the NHS is free and it's for everyone.

I didn't think about the pay at first. When you're young and at school, you're excited about your career. Then you enter the real world.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't want a pay rise. I get paid round about 23,000 but pay isn't everything. I love my job.


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