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Community and mental health services for Southampton, Portsmouth and parts of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.


Dedicated to healthcare for more than two decades

John Ladner has had a varied and colourful career path, spending the last 22 years in healthcare
John Ladner has had a varied and colourful career path, spending the last 22 years in healthcare

John Ladner started his career in the 70s as a cook when he was 16, and now works with Solent NHS Trust as a Healthcare Support Worker in the Urgent Community Response Team. Based at St Mary’s Community Health Campus in Portsmouth, John has worked for the NHS for 22 years, and his career path to this point has been a varied and colourful one, proving that you can learn new skills at any age and take on new challenges.

John is passionate about working in Solent and the NHS, dedicated to making a positive difference to people’s lives. This is his story.

Back to the beginning

When John left school, he secured himself a place in the nautical catering college in Liverpool where he spent three months learning the skills he needed so he could pursue a career in the Merchant Navy. John says: “I joined my first ship (an oil tanker) owned by Shell oil in October 1976 and went away for 6 months working and traveling the world. I stayed with Shell Tankers for 12 years - I couldn’t think of a better way to see the world and get paid. Over the years, I worked myself up through the ranks until I became a chef.”

After leaving the tankers, John planned to settle on shore but soon got the itch to work on the water again and got a job with a ferry company in Portsmouth. It was at this time that John decided to make Portsmouth his permanent home. Over the next five years, John did various job roles, finishing as cabin deck supervisor when he decided he needed a new career path, leading him to healthcare and the NHS.

New challenges

John adds: “I did some agency nursing at St James’ Hospital in Portsmouth supporting older person’s mental health. After 6 months I was offered an interview for a permanent contract as a Band 2 Health Care Support Worker. A year later, I was supported to go to college one day a week to get my NVQ 3.

“I was on the wards in elderly mental health for 18 years, with many good and challenging times.”

Like for so many people when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, John jumped at a new job opportunity. He admits: “I received an e-mail asking for people who would be interested in working with Solent’s vaccination programme so I put myself forward. I completed all the competencies and was accepted as a team member of the vaccination team. For the first month I commuted to Oakley Road in Southampton where Solent had set up a large-scale vaccination centre. A month later I was part of the team opening a vaccination centre at Hamble House.

“I did the first vaccination at Hamble House and the 100,000th  which felt special.”

John also assisted in supporting the team with their roving clinics, which he really enjoyed. John adds: “The roving clinics were good, setting up a clinic wherever was needed in the heart of the communities. A memory which stands out for me was going on the cruise ship for two days vaccinating the crew and going over to the Isle of Wight to help at Riverside vaccination centre.”

When this role ended, John joined the Urgent Community Response (UCR) team at St Mary’s last year December. John loves his new role and team, and being able to put his skills to good use and learn new ones, such as phlebotomy. John says: “Working with the UCR team is a wonderful experience, going out and treating people in their homes when we can. I am happy to be part of such a brilliant team of people that care for people, it is very satisfying.”

Outside of work, John enjoys going to the Theatre, being outdoors and spending time with his family and beloved dog. John adds: "I have a dog called Badger who is very active and needs lots of walks. My partner and I enjoy being in nature and glamping together throughout the summer and meeting up with friends."

John has worked for NHS for 22 years and plans to stay in healthcare for as long as he can. "I hope I have a few more years in me yet as I feel I am at my prime."

John’s career is testament to what hard work and dedication can achieve and how you can pursue your dreams at any age and take on new paths – there is not only one road, be daring, be adventurous.

Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

Please visit our services page for specific services and contact details. Alternatively, contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service by emailing or calling the number below. You can also give us feedback, make a complaint or share a compliment.

0800 013 2319

*Lines are open Monday to Friday 10am – 4pm.

The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act was passed on 30 November 2000. It gives a general right of access to all types of recorded information held by public authorities, with full access granted in January 2005.

The Act sets out exemptions to that right and places certain obligations on public authorities.


Phone: 0300 123 3919

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Our administrative and managerial centre is based in Southampton.

While our services can be found around various NHS locations in Southampton and Portsmouth (and surrounding districts), our administrative and managerial centre is based in Southampton at:

Highpoint Venue
Bursledon Road
SO19 8BR

If you require a printable version of how to find us including bus times, car access and bike info please download our leaflet. (Copyright of Highpoint Venue).

Central office phone: 0300 123 3390

*Lines open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm.

If you are a journalist with a media enquiry, please contact the Communications Team at:

0300 123 4156 or 02381 031076

The Communications Office is open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm.