Main image: Left, Martin Green as a pupil nurse during his first month of training at Frenchay Hospital in Bristol in 1976, and right, working his last few days before retirement from his role as bed site manager at Morriston Hospital in Swansea.
A “one in a million” nurse is saying his final goodbye to the NHS after 46 years.
When Martin Green hangs up his scrubs for the final time on Sunday (May 15th) it will signal the end of an epic career which has spanned several hospitals and services dealing with everything from birth to death.
“I have done my fair share,” said the Morriston Hospital bed site manager, who turns 66 next week.
“I left school at 15 without any qualifications and had to work my way up the hard way. I often sit there and reminisce.
“One of the things I will miss is the team I am with at the moment. We have been together a while and have been through quite a bit.”
Martin is a valued member of a team right at the heart of the incredibly busy Swansea hospital, monitoring patient movements and bed capacity across the site.
It is the type of role which did not exist when Martin joined a very different NHS in May 1976.
Having left his native Ebbw Vale, where he had volunteered at the local hospital, he joined a nurse training programme at Frenchay Hospital in Bristol when he was just 18.
As a pupil nurse working towards qualification as an enrolled nurse, Martin had to live in the hospital accommodation and obey strict rules.
“I must admit it was a strict but wonderful training school at Frenchay,” said Martin, who lives in Port Eynon, Gower, with long-term partner Wayne.
“If you came onto the ward and your uniform wasn’t up to scratch you were sent back to your room.
“We didn’t wash our uniforms ourselves. They went to the hospital laundry and came back starched stiff as a board. You could stand them up on your own.
“If you couldn’t wear a starched uniform you had to get a special note from the doctor.”
Martin added: “The uniforms have changed a bit since then. I think the scrubs we have now are the most comfortable.”
Once qualified, Martin worked in the intensive care unit in Frenchay for a short period, then Singleton Hospital in Swansea before moving to mental health at Pen-y-Fal Hospital in Abergavenny.
After that he took an interest in urgent care and worked first in the accident and emergency department at the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport before joining A&E at Morriston for its opening in late 1985.
While there he went back to being a full-time student for a year on a course that enabled him to progress from enrolled to registered nurse.
“The course was birth to death,” he said.
“You started in maternity because you had to see so many deliveries and worked up from there.
“A few years later, when I was back in A&E at Morriston, a mother came in with a boy of about five or six years and asked if I remembered him.
“Turned out I had witnessed his birth while on my course.”
There can be few nurses who have worked across such a wide range of services as Martin.
But whatever he has done, he has done so with compassion and it is for that his colleagues will remember him most.
Carol Doggett, Interim Director of Nursing at Morriston Hospital, said Martin’s colleagues have dubbed him “one in a million”.
Summarising some of the many compliments that have been paid to Martin, she said: “Being a nurse is much more than wearing a uniform. It is being kind, compassionate, professional and recognising it’s a privilege to work with people from all walks of life and provide them with care.
“I’ve been told that Martin is unique - one of a kind. He is there for everyone as a friend and a nurse who will always go the extra mile.
“His closest colleagues have called him in Welsh, halen y ddaer, which means salt of the earth. He really is one in a million.”