Published: 07/04/2005, Volume II5, No. 5949 Page 36

Alan Jones left the NHS in 1968, aged 21, to look for a better-paid job so that he could court his future wife and settle down. But, 30 years later, he realised it was the only job he had ever really enjoyed.

'I was only earning a few pounds a week, working as a medical record porter at East Birmingham Hospital (now Heartlands Hospital) back in 1965, ' says Alan. 'It was an isolated hospital and I had a pushbike to help me get from building to building with a big basket on the front to carry the records. It was great fun but I knew I needed to earn more money if I wanted to get engaged, so I quit to start a career in engineering.

'I worked for 30 years and retired when I was 50. I spent three months decorating the house, but I quickly got bored and I wanted a part-time job. I remembered my time at the hospital fondly, so I applied for a job as a medical porter at Good Hope Hospital in Birmingham. I am now working full-time again.

'I spent the last 12 months working solely in accident and emergency. The job hasn't changed much apart from the fact that I do not have to pedal a pushbike around.

'My salary enhances my pension but money is not the be all and end all. I have no visions of packing it in, even though I am 58 now. I've even encouraged friends from my old engineering company to come and work at the trust.' Sara Brown, human resources manager and Improving Working Lives lead at Good Hope Hospital trust, says: 'The portering function plays a vital role in achieving our targets and is traditionally one of the areas that is difficult to recruit to. We feel that recognising the skills and experience of people like Alan, who have previously worked for the NHS, will give added value and support the delivery of high-quality services.

'The NHS is a good place to work and we believe that staff do appreciate the benefits of working for the health service, which is why many people who leave do choose to return.'