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Over 6,000 years of NHS service recognised by local NHS trust

Posted: 2 February 2023

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A committed and dedicated long serving nurse, who joined the NHS as a student and rose up the ranks to become a deputy head of nursing, is celebrating 45 years with West Herts Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

Karen Bowler began her career with the trust as a student nurse in 1976, before joining the surgery division at Hemel Hempstead Hospital after qualifying.

Having worked mainly in Hemel Hempstead, Karen moved over to Watford General Hospital to become the trustís first Ďmodern matroní in 2001 (the role of the modern matron was created to bring leadership to ward level).

After spending many years in the surgery division, she later worked in patient experience and education before becoming deputy head of nursing for medicine in 2018.

Karen said: "Iím so proud to reach 45 yearsí service in the NHS. Itís been an amazing career, made all the more special as itís all been based at West Hertfordshire. Iíve worked with fantastic people and even after all these years, I wouldnít change a thing!"

The trust, which manages Watford General, Hemel Hempstead and St Albans City Hospitals, recently held its Long Service Awards to recognise staff who have provided over 15 years of service. The event celebrates workforce milestones at West Herts and in the NHS. This year was extra special as the event also celebrated a member of staff with 50 years of NHS service.

Barbara De La Salle, scheme director for UK NEQAS began her NHS career at Chase Farm Hospital in 1972 as a junior medical laboratory technician. She became scheme director in 2014 and remains in this role now. UK NEQAS moved offsite last year from Watford to Croxley Business Centre.

This year, 274 staff were eligible for a long service award, amounting to 6,045 years of NHS service.


  1. For more information, please contact the communications team on: 01923 436280 or email: For out of hours media enquiries please call the Watford General Hospital switchboard on 01923 244366 and ask for the on call communications manager.
  2. West Hertfordshire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust serves people from across Hertfordshire, north London and further afield. It operates from three hospitals; Watford General, St Albans City and Hemel Hempstead. The trust has a catchment area of over 500,000 people and is one of the largest employers locally, with around 5,000 staff and volunteers.
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