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NHS

This week on Monday (it really was blue Monday for me!) I underwent surgery on my leg, as I have suffered with painful varicose veins for the past six years. I wanted to tell you about my experience and why I think we should be so proud of our NHS. We often hear so many negative comments about the NHS, but I want to remind us all that despite the ever increasing challenges and pressures on the NHS, we have something very special here in the UK.

As you know I’m a registered nurse and have worked in the medical sector for the past 21 years. However 6 years ago when I gave birth to my Daughter, I had an awful traumatic birth which wasn’t helped by the care (more like lack of care) that I received in a certain London hospital. My experience was so bad that I wrote an official complaint to the NHS Trust in question, this in turn lead to the member staff concerned being unable to work in that Trust again.

The whole experience left me wondering what had happened to the NHS that I know and had loved? The place where I have spent much of my adult life working, it even made me question my career choice. However, my experience this week as a patient has left me with a new view point. I now once again feel proud to be part of the nursing profession and I can tell you that there are still nurses who do care and know how to really get down on a patient’s level.

I have needed varicose vein surgery since 2016, but essentially I have been putting off having the treatment, because in reality I was so terrified to put my life in the hands of health professionals again! To cut a long story short the first time my surgery was booked, unfortunately the hospital had to cancel it. The second time it was booked I cancelled it, because I was having mental health issues with anxiety so bad that I couldn’t face it. So it was third time lucky!

Warning – there is a graphic picture of my bruised leg below!

This is just after I woke up from the anesthetic! I think I was still as high as a kite!

Anyway, the point I want to make is that my Daughter’s birth was just one bad experience and this time (obviously I was not giving birth, more having an uncomplicated procedure) at Charing Cross Hospital – part of Imperial Healthcare. I was treated with dignity and respect. I was very nervous about having a general anesthetic, but everything was explained to me and it was the little things the nurses, doctors and other members of the team did that made me feel cared for.

So now the surgery is done I feel like a weight has been lifted from me. My leg as you can see doesn’t look very pretty, I had what is known as a ultrasonography guided percutaneous radiofrequency ablation of the long saphenous vein. I am still finding it very uncomfortable to walk and sleep at night, as the bruising can get worse before it improves. However I am back at work and trying to get on with things, I’m just a bit slower than usual.

I have found a new prospective of both hospitals and medical care. I also think being a patient myself again has reminded me what is really important in nursing and that really it is the basics. As cheesy as it sounds it’s the human touch and the reassuring words that make all the difference. I was so lucky to have a lovely recovery nurse looking after me when I woke up from the general anesthetic. I remember her looking at me and making direct eye contact. She spoke softy and was reassuring, she didn’t rush me and I felt heard when I said I was in pain and very cold. She held a cup of water for me so I could drink small sips and made sure I had an extra blanket.

To practice as a Registered Nurse in the UK you must be a member of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and you must uphold the code of conduct. I have just pulled out the very first part of the code for you to read, as for me this part really stands out, but every single part of it is really important too. You can read the full code on the NMC Website.

Prioritise people

“You put the interests of people using or needing nursing or midwifery services first. You make their care and safety your main concern and make sure that their dignity is preserved and their needs are recognised, assessed and responded to. You make sure that those receiving care are treated with respect, that their rights are upheld and that any discriminatory attitudes and behaviours towards those receiving care are challenged”.

“1 Treat people as individuals and uphold their dignity

To achieve this, you must:

1.1 treat people with kindness, respect and compassion

1.2 make sure you deliver the fundamentals of care effectively

1.3 avoid making assumptions and recognise diversity and individual choice

1.4 make sure that any treatment, assistance or care for which you are responsible is delivered without undue delay

1.5 respect and uphold people’s human rights”

From the NMC Code of conduct – Publication date: 29 January 2015
Effective from: 31 March 2015
Updated to reflect the regulation of nursing associates: 10 October 2018

My School of Nursing & Midwifery badge from The University of Sheffield, where I completed my training in 1997.

Finally, I want to thank every single member of staff at Charing Hospital for their care (I doubt any of them will read this), this post is for their hard work and dedication. From the lady on the ward who brought me a cup of tea up to the Consultant Vascular Surgeon who performed my operation. I thank you for your care and consideration.

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This week has been a bit of a whirlwind for me. I would have never expected to be asked on to The Victoria Derbyshire programme which is aired live on BBC Two! The reason that they were interested in interviewing me this week, is that the BBC released figures as part of an in depth look into the nursing profession. These figures showed that a huge number of nurses are leaving the NHS and this is exactly what I am considering doing too!

“We can reveal:

  • More than 10% of the nursing workforce have left NHS employment in each of the past three years
  • The number of leavers would be enough to staff more than 20 average-sized hospital trusts
  • More than half of those who walked away in the last year were under the age of 40
  • Leavers outnumbered joiners by 3,000 last year, the biggest gap over the five-year period examined by the BBC
  • Brexit may have had an impact. Since the referendum the NHS has gone from EU joiners outnumbering leavers to the reverse – more leavers than joiners
  • Nurses are being pulled off research work, special projects and admin roles to plug the gaps”

Sourced from the BBC article by Nick Triggle , NHS ‘haemorrhaging’ nurses as 33,000 leave each year, dated 17 January 2018.

There are various reasons why I am considering leaving the NHS, mainly I have become disillusioned about working in the profession, that I have worked in for the last twenty years. The NHS has changed so much since I started my nurse training back in 1994. I feel that there has been a shift in the public’s attitudes towards nurses. We no longer seem to command the respect that we once had. On numerous occasions over the past few years I have been spoken to in an abusive or demanding way by patients.

The other main reason I have decided to make the change in the long term, is that I feel down that to staffing levels and time contriants I can no longer provide the level of care that I would like to. I often come home at the end of the day feeling dissatisfied and wonder if I can carry on?

I have been thinking about my future for a long time now. As I have mentioned in previous posts I decided to retrain with a company called Digital Mums to become a social media manager back in November 2016 and completed my training in May 2017. This is something that I did not take lightly, as I had to invest a lot of time and money in to this career change.
My day started early as I needed to be a BBC Broadcasting House by 8am. I really wasn’t sure what to expect as I have never set foot in a television studio before!

I was taken in to the make up department and made to look a bit more presentable! I was chatting away to the make up artist when Victoria Derbyshire casually walked in. She took me a bit by surprise! I knew that she was going to come and talk to me before we went on air, but I wasn’t expecting it right then.

Victoria took me into the green room and we had a chat about why I wanted to leave nursing in the NHS and what my future plans were? I gave her an example of a situation that I went on to mention in the live interview. It was about a patient who had come to see me for a simple injection, I knew that this patient had terminal cancer. I was sad that I was not able to give that patient more of my time. I literally administered the injection and the patient left my room.

Victoria seemed to be genuinely interested in my story, she said that it was bringing tears to her eyes! I said that I knew that she had undergone treatment for breast cancer and she agreed how important the nurses had been to her when she had her treatment. She was diagnosed with breast cancer back in July 2015 and she went on to have a mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. She make a full recovery thankfully, but I could tell that this experience had been completely life changing for her.

Then it was time to go into the studio, I got my microphone attached and had to sit and wait while the first part of the programme was filmed. I was so nervous and was wondering how I was going to hold myself together! I was fascinated by the workings of a television studio. I had no idea about the number of people that were involved in putting together a live show.

The interview lasted no more than eight minutes, but to me sitting there it seemed like much longer! I was interviewed along side a fellow male nurse who is employed in nurse education. I think that he was brought in to provide another viewpoint in that he had no plans to leave the profession and actually said that he thought that nursing students were well prepared when they qualify. I’m afraid, I would not entirely agree with his statement, because if this was the case I do not think so many nurses would be leaving after such a short time after qualifying.

Overall, I felt the interview went well and I am glad I did it. Obviously it was a very big thing for me to speak on live television, however I believe that as nurses we need to speak out otherwise nothing will ever change for our profession.

If you would like to watch my interview, then you can view it via this link on the BBC iplayer  

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