Worthing midwife ‘wholeheartedly deserves’ recognition as she retires after 40 years

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A Worthing midwife has retired after 40 years working at Worthing Hospital and Southlands Hospital in Shoreham, saying she has been extremely fortunate and has no regrets.

Liz Payne moved to Worthing from her childhood home in Carshalton Beeches to train as a nurse and fate then played a hand in making midwifery the focus for most of her career.

She was the eldest of four children and said it was the right decision to move away from home for her training after completing her studies at Carshalton College.

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“I wanted to get away and grow up,” she explained. “It was the best thing for me, and my mum and dad, because of the shift work.”

Midwife Liz Payne at Worthing Hospital on the day of her retirement. Picture: Steve Robards SR2106014Midwife Liz Payne at Worthing Hospital on the day of her retirement. Picture: Steve Robards SR2106014
Midwife Liz Payne at Worthing Hospital on the day of her retirement. Picture: Steve Robards SR2106014

Accommodation was provided for trainee nurses in Worthing and they worked between the two hospitals, learning all different aspects of the job.

After qualifying as a state enrolled nurse, Liz worked for a year and then went on to do the conversion course to become a state registered nurse.

She said: “I did midwifery during the conversion course and I loved it but I also loved A&E and I actually got a place in London for that.”

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Liz had met her future husband Steve by then, however, and it was a dilemma as she also wanted to stay in Worthing with him. Then she happened to bump into her midwifery mentor and was encouraged to apply for a job that was going on her team.

Liz said: “I got a place and did 18 months of study at Worthing and Southlands. We were married in 1986 and I finished the training in 1987. It was quite an intense 18 months and you had to complete 40 deliveries.”

Liz worked full-time at Southlands until she had her first child, Matthew, in 1988. She then continued as bank staff and had two more children, Michelle in 1991 and Julie in 1994.

Liz said: “By the time I had Michelle, the bank work was starting to dry up, so I did some work in the gynaecology department, and after Julie, I took some time out working in a nursing home.

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“Someone kindly pointed out that if I stayed out of midwifery too long, I would have to retrain, so I did a Return to Midwifery course and finally got a full-time contract again.”

Liz said the main thing that had changed over the years was the protocols and currently, the focus was on ‘continuity of carer’.

“I would like to see more community midwifery and home births increase, back to how it was before,” she said.

“Every baby is special. There is one perfect baby and every mother has one. It is still a thrill for me to see the birth and you try to make a really important time of it.

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“When I go to work, I don’t know what I am walking into – you never know, and that is good. You have to be prepared for everything.

“It has been a lovely job and I have been so lucky. Coming to Worthing was a good move for me and I have no regrets.”

Matthew said his mum ‘wholeheartedly deserves’ recognition for her long career as a nurse and midwife.

He added: “When my sisters and I were kids, she’d often be working tirelessly to keep us going as a family, including night shifts that meant she’d have to sleep during the day. She’s a real family person so this was hard for her and for us as kids to make sure she got the sleep she needed.

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“She’s delivered a lot of babies, including a lot of friends of mine and now their children, it turns out, and she’s well-known for the amazing care she’s given.

“She gets stopped in the town centre by ladies who want to let her know that they remember her because of the amazing care she gave them.”

Liz had her last day at Worthing Hospital on June 1. She and Steve are planning on doing some walking, and are also looking forward to their first grandchild arriving in the autumn.