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Joan Woodcock was born and brought up in Blackburn, Lancashire, to hard-pressed working class parents. Hospitalisation at the young age of four inspired her to become a nurse, and at 16 she started as a cadet nurse, before beginning formal nurse training two years later under the traditional matron system. Despite the strict discipline and harsh training regime, Joan qualified as a State Registered Nurse in 1971. Her career spanned 41 years, and included positions in hospital casualty departments, GP practices, the prison service, Marie Curie cancer care homes and in the Sexual Assault Forensic Examination Centre for Lancashire Police - as well as a brief moment of fame on national TV. Joan took early retirement in 2008 to spend more time with her family and her beloved pet spaniel Gino.
Sue Baker's view... My first impression on reading Joan Woodcock’s excellent memoir was how much has changed in just over 50 years. Matron still ruled (just) and nurses, like the author, could begin their training at a very young age. If it wasn’t for her references to events of the times (the moon landing, the Beatles) it would be easy to believe we were back in the early days of the C20th. How things have changed. With a no-nonsense attitude that’s very engaging, Joan Woodcock has a lifetime of nursing stories to tell, tragedy and laughter on tap in equal measure, pain and suffering balanced by dedication and superhuman care. Like for Like ReadingTales from a Midwife: True Stories of the East End in the 1950’s, Jennifer WorthYes Sister, No Sister: My Life as a Trainee Nurse in 1950’s Yorkshire, Jennifer Craig
That's the thing about Casualty - one minute you were trying desperately to save someone's life, the next you were trying to stop a simple nosebleed. Since training to be a nurse in the 1960s and with an NHS career spanning over forty years, Joan Woodcock has seen it all. Working on hospital wards and in prisons and police units, Joan quickly learned to keep a cool head whatever the situation. Here she recounts the highs and lows of her time in the casualty unit. Taking place over twenty-four hours one New Year's Eve, Matron on Call shows what really goes on behind the scenes in Accident and Emergency. Joan deals with every manner of injury: from broken limbs, horrific road accidents and fatal heart attacks to drunken patients jumping the queue, ingrown toenails and earache, Joan shares her memories and tales. Funny, poignant and compelling, this is a heartwarming portrait of a dedicated professional.