THE odd thank-you and simply knowing that she had helped someone was what kept Jane Kaney going throughout her 42-year career.

Taking a job with the NHS straight out of school, the Alloa woman started in the health records department at Stirling Royal Infirmary in 1974.

In conjunction with her secretarial studies, she sent a letter off to the hospital and was invited to an interview.

After a sit-down, still in her school uniform, she was offered a spot, and so began her fulfilling career in the health service.

She started out as an office junior, filing the casualty cards, making tea, running errands and doing ward rounds at the end of the day.

As time went on and she learned the ropes, she had receptionist duties, made appointments and prepared case notes for clinics.

Back then, she also dealt with the appliance clinic, which included patients with back support, insoles, walking aids and cancer support.

She remembers, at around 18 years old, visiting women in the ward after they had mastectomies with examples of prosthesis and passing on fitting tips.

As time went on the changes inevitably came, but one constant for Jane was being able to reach others.

"What we enjoy is when you get a wee thank you from a patient that you've helped," she told the Advertiser.

"Years ago, there was a wee man that attended the eye clinic and he put me down as... that I saved his sight.

"I said, all I did was get you into a quicker appointment with a doctor."

He told her: "No, no lass – you saved my sight because you gave me that appointment sooner than I should have been."

When Jane started in the health records department there was an emphasis on paper-based documents.

A5 cards would contain patient details that would follow them when admitted and discharged.

Before the move towards computers in the region, old style index cards were common and microfilm was popular.

Now, Jane's department deals more with the administration side of things and is more technology-focused, utilising different systems.

The 60-year-old left in 1985 when she had her daughter, went back in 1987, and was health records supervisor when she retired earlier this year.

“I’ve always enjoyed the work," she said, "I’ve always liked being able to help patients, and the staff that you work with – all the nurses, the doctors.

"Certainly working with the staff and then passing on the knowledge that you gained and having an oversight just pretty much over everything.

"Knowing that there was lots of different bits to your job and just having that knowledge and being able to turn your hand to whatever needs to be done.

"But then also the responsibility of being the supervisor; that if any of the bosses were missing, away at meetings or off on holiday, that you were in charge."

Although now embracing retired life, she has great things to say about working in the health service.

Jane, who was based at Forth Valley Royal Hospital, said: "I thoroughly enjoyed it.

"If you were talking to any of the nurses, I said I don’t know that I could have ever been a nurse because I’m too chicken-hearted.

"But then, dealing with the patients, when they were maybe going through their chemo or further back when you were speaking to ladies that were dealing with their radiotherapy, then you seen them coming back to clinics years later.

"In the appliance office it was a handwritten card so you could actually track yourself back because you recognised your writing from years earlier and you seen these ladies coming back and you thought, well that’s good. And that was enough for me – maybe speaking to people and helping them.

"The odds thanks for doing something, that you’ve helped somebody, that was enough for me and that’s what kept me going."

Towards the end of her service, Jane managed to help a man track down a member of his family.

He was running out of luck and turned to the department to help and she managed to put him back in touch with his mum.

For her, it is this kind of interaction that "gladdens your heart" and makes it feel worthwhile.

“To me, that’s what it’s all about. They talk about the NHS and targets and things," she added.

“But I think it’s not really about the targets, it’s about helping people to get the service that they need.”