'Incredible dedication, care and compassion': Senior nurse caps off near 50-year NHS career in South Tyneside

A senior nurse has said her last goodbye to NHS colleagues in South Tyneside after almost half a century working at borough hospitals.

By Tommy Greene
Friday, 5th March 2021, 4:28 pm

Karen Whale, 66, began her career on rotating night shifts at various borough hospital wards in August 1971, before moving to the South Shields District Hospital.

During her near 50-years of service, which saw her rise through the nursing ranks to a number of senior positions across the borough, Mrs Whale worked at South Shields General, and Hebburn, Primrose, Deans and Palmer community hospitals.

The South Shields resident was based at the General’s stroke unit for 13 years and subsequently moved to the Palmer Community Hospital in Jarrow as an outpatient nurse, where she ran a number of different clinics.

Karen Whale, 66, has retired after joining the NHS in August 1971.

"I loved it and the team,” Mrs Whale side of her time at Palmer.

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, she went back to South Tyneside District Hospital and then returned to the Jarrow health centre to see out the final days of her career as Sister Karen Whale.

Her decades of service to the local NHS were only interrupted briefly when she had each of her four children.

Daughter, Stephanie Hawrot, said: “We are all proud of her commitment to such a role for so long and that you should do something you love even if you might not always be recognised or thanked for it.

Karen Whale, 66, has capped off almost half a century working at South Tyneside NHS wards

"She has instilled in us all a great work ethic and the value of caring for others.”

Melanie Johnson, Director of Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professionals at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, said of Mrs Whale’s retirement: “Karen is a much loved member of the Trust family and will be a huge miss to our organisation.

"She has shown incredible dedication, care and compassion throughout her long career with the Trust and touched the lives of many patients and their families.

"As well as being a very valued member of the outpatient department team at South Tyneside District Hospital, Karen also supported her colleagues during COVID and was redeployed to support the safe discharge of patients.

Mrs Whale finished her career at the Palmer Community Hospital in Jarrow

"I know I speak on behalf of all her colleagues and friends at the Trust when I say how grateful we are for Karen’s years of service and I wish her a long and happy retirement.”

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Colleagues prepared a socially-distanced send-off for the sorely-missed senior nurse
Karen Whale was a highly-valued member of the South Tyneside NHS family, the hospital trust said
Colleagues held a socially-distanced send-off for Mrs Whale last month
Colleagues held a socially-distanced send-off for Mrs Whale last month