A chef at St Thomas’ Hospital is celebrating a remarkable fifty years in the NHS – and has never taken a sick day.
Louisa Batista was only eighteen when she started working at the hospital on July 7, 1970. But despite working in the NHS for half a century, she has no plans to hang up her apron.
The span of her career is likely to make her among the longest serving employees of the NHS.
Louisa began working on the wards as a housekeeper just five days after arriving into the UK from Portugal, before working in the catering department, because she wanted to go dancing at the weekends.
“I used to serve drinks on the wards and patients would teach me the words for sugar, tea and coffee – it took more than a year until I could speak the language properly,” said the 68-year-old, who lives in Vauxhall.
“When I started in the kitchen I watched everything they did and took notes.”
She now prepares around seventy meals a day for patients with special diet needs – and says while she has encountered some fussy eaters, most are happy with the cooking.
“So much has changed over the years but you go along with it,” said the mother-of-one.
“The special diet menus now have a massive demand – from gluten free, vegan and puree meals, to Halal and Kosher – there really is something for everyone.
“I’ve come across some fussy patients who insist on only eating King prawns or fillet steak, but most of the time people are happy with what we have to offer.”
For patients sadly terminally ill, Louisa said she would meet them and find out what they would like to eat, even buying it if it’s not in stock.
“I am incredibly grateful to Louisa for her 50 years of brilliant dedicated service and hard work – she is an inspiration to us all,” said top Trust boss, Dr Ian Abbs.
“Louisa is a fantastic member of the Guy’s and St Thomas’ family and must be one of the longest serving NHS employees.”