A nurse of 60 years who cared for the elderly said the profession can be "soul destroying" and called for greater support for her colleagues.

Cathy Hartie, an NHS practice nurse across Havering for 45 years, worked her last shift on Friday (June 9), having spent the last 15 years at Upminster Medical Centre.

She was loved by the community, her husband John said, especially among elderly and dying patients who she regularly visited in their homes.

Cathy, a Hornchurch resident of 35 years, praised her team and young GPs who, she said, provided invaluable support in tough times.

But she criticised what she deemed as unnecessary box ticking and inexcusable wait times for elderly people.

“It’s soul destroying sometimes,” she said. “I’ll miss my colleagues, especially some of the young locum GPs who were terrific.

“But its frustrating when you think about the time spent in front of a computer ticking boxes when the patient is sitting in front of you.”

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Cathy, who trained at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, said she has worked in General Practice (GP) for the last 20 years.

She said she loved helping the elderly, but said more support was vital.

“It’s disgraceful the way our elderly are cared for in the community in general,” she said.

“I found it difficult saying to people who have had to wait inordinate amounts of time for a hip or knee replacement - you’ll just have to wait.”

John praised Cathy's hard work, especially for Havering's most vulnerable.

“She was dealing with people who had died and their families,” he said. “Cathy just listened to people and put herself in their shoes.

“She has a lot of life experience and was able to empathise a lot with her patients."

With the NHS under increasing strain, Cathy said she was happy to retire, but hoped her colleagues would be better rewarded.

“GPs would not be able to do their jobs as well as they do without their experienced practice nurses," she said.

"It’s time they were recognised by the government.”

After 60 years, Cathy said she was proud of her work undertaken to help the elderly, but hoped her closest colleagues would get the decent salary they deserve.

NHS England and NHS North East London, which runs GP services in Havering, did not respond to a request for comment.