Wednesday 15 December 2010


I am acutely aware that I keep promising a post on nurses and it never appears.

I wanted to say that the reason is not a lack of appreciation, but a reflection of the fact that I need to research so many facts and dig out so many statistics. (Also because of a rather pathetic lack of technical ability on my part, but that's another story.....)

In the meantime, perhaps I can at least offer this roll of honour to some of the incredible, wonderful, special people who have so often done so much more than their job. They have saved my life, restored my faith and done so much more good than they will probably ever realise. **

So just for a moment, I remember.....

Sian, who spent the best part of a week tracking down a PCA pump when an enormous abscess had me delirious every minute of every day.

Marie, the student who ran a ward single handedly until, in the end, she ordered 2 sisters to come and stay until her patients were comfortable.

Jayne, who whizzed around the bays so efficiently, we offered to buy her roller skates.

The dear night nurse who spent all night going from bed to bed with a little torch, checking that none of us were laying awake in fear or pain and making cups of tea or finding time to sit and chat if we were.

Bev, The best ward manager I ever knew. When a mistake was made with one of my meds, she asked every nurse that came on to every shift what the correct prescription should have been. If they weren't sure, she offered them extra training.

Sylvia, Who held my hand for three hours as I screamed in pain, crying with me.

Alison, She of the "I just nearly Died" post for her warmth and obvious empathy.

Sarah, Who runs my surgical ward and is the fiercest patient advocate I've ever met.

The male, Asian nurse, who actually used to ask me before drug rounds if I needed pain relief.

The beautiful, Philippine nurse, who came within seconds when I collapsed in a toilet.

Nicola, the student who was so curious to learn

Jo, the practice nurse at a surgery who was always so friendly and kind.

Alison 2, who has given her entire working life to offering chronic patients specialist care.

Fran, as above. Both are well known worldwide for their research into bowel disease. It's causes and it's treatments.

Another Marie, who understood so well why chronic patients need totally different care to acute patients.

The kind HCA who left me cigarettes for when I woke up in the morning, just because I mentioned in passing that I'd run out.

I'm sure there are many, many more that I no longer remember.

I hope every sick or disabled person doesn't mind if I say on their behalf,

Thank you all.

**If I can't always remember names, I hope they will forgive me.


  1. Sue,

    I like your share it tool on the top right! very impressive... [I wish I could have one as straightforward]

  2. Can I add to your props:

    Un-named nurse of my childhood, as I spent so much time in the wards due to pneumonia, used to keep rainbow sherbet ice cream in the staff freezer just for me

    Nurse Rain who recently applied burns protocols to my wound after surgery in complete defiance of consultant orders and prevented a staph infection, and whose methods I referred on to my care out of hospital when it started to re-infect again.

    His mentor student whom held my hand whilst I had my wound packed and never once told me to stop making a fuss.

    Nurse M who noted my infection had returned, called an out of hours GP for me, and then called Adult Social Services herself to get them to try to explain to her why they thought I didn't need care when I couldn't even walk downstairs to make myself some toast. I've lived around sailors for years, but she could out-cuss them all, I swear, she had one gifted lacerated tongue.

    Props duly given. I have given a recommendation to each of the above via superiors...I just hope they got them!

  3. I am happy to hear you praisig the medical staff sue. Actually, this post has cheered me immensely. I ahve always regarded our medical staff as the great unsung heroes of our society!


  4. I will add my experience which is current. The admin systems are crap which tends to blot out the individual efforts of staff,

    My aged near relation (aunt 95) has just been admitted to community hospital.

    At the weekend I was telephoned by the care home to be warned that she seemed to have a UTI (not unknown in the elderly and her case) and the doctor had prescribed antibiotics.

    On Monday, he rang me to say he was worried as she was not taking fluids.

    Despite the risk of moving her I went along with moving her to the Community Hospital so that she could have nursing care and a drip to prevent dehydration. Late afternoon I visited the CH and found her in a ward, no drip.

    I asked at the desk what was happening and i received the question
    'Ah you are the NOK' do you know why she has been brought in?'

    I gave the information, as I understood it, to which the reply was 'nobody told us, she just turned up in an ambulance',

    She (the sister) then proceeded to ask me contact details and personal details of the patient, all of which had been recorded many times in other visits, I asked why she could not access those and was told 'The district hospital hold her details'. When I asked why she did not just look those up, she replied that they did not have access and anyway it was all on paper and would reach them the next day (today). I asked why she did not access the GP's data online and she did not have access to those either.

    She then asked what was really wrong with my aunt! I repeated the details and added that i was surprised not to see a drip in operation. The sister said that was only possible if the ward doctor turned up and he hadn't.

    She then asked me if I knew what medicines my aunt was taking! I asked why she did not know this already. Had not the ambulance men (sorry paramedics) not brought them in with the patient?

    No they hadn't. I then said well why don't you look up her records and then cut short realising what a stupid question that had become. I gave them the number of the care home.

    Today all is resolved, the notes have arrived from the district hospital, the care home has taken in my aunt's medicament ('we don't keep such stuff here' I was told in the hospital).

    So they now know she is blind in one eye and losing sight in the other due to glaucoma, is stone deaf (they were puzzled why she did not understand them) and has leg ulcers and...........

    My aunt has now passed congealed blood so she is probably nearing the end of her life, not so surprising of course.

    The ward doctor informs me that the anecdote above is typical of how NHS computer systems (where existing) do not interface with each other).

    You seem to be under one regime Sue so good job if so.

    Remember when I said it was all to painful to relate about my NHS experiences from 1985 onwards? That was about my daughter whom I lost to cancer. The care was magnificent then, but the admin in the same state. I am a computer project leader by profession and I sometimes regret that my talents were wasted on supermarkets, banks and so on. Still good to know that as your tin of baked beans is read at the POS till, a new one to replace it is on its way to the shop thanks to my systems.

  5. Howard,

    Good post, sorry to hear of the news..... A centralised computer system you would think should be essential... had her condiiton been more urgent, it could have been a matter of life or death...

    I wonder how much a centralsied system would cost? Weren't Labour working on one?

  6. Yes Eoin and we would all have been on it DNA, blood group, finger print and all, but some misguided souls, saddled with a load of tosh about privacy and all that, have scrapped it.

    We came back through immigration at Bristol Airport the other day, standing in a long queue while the brand new machines that could have automatically read our updated passports (ID cards then) stood forlornly in a corner.

    As a computer project leader by profession, I rage against the effort in resource that has now been carelessly tossed away at the behest of a mantra and an election slogan.

    Let me give the other side of the argument with an example. The rounding up of the Jews in Holland was made much easier because of the strict registration rules for the City Council databases (hand records of course but still databases). Amazingly, the column 'religion' is still asked for by census takers here and there today. One might as well ask if we eat baked beans.

    How to overcome such fears. Well, i think it's obvious, but seeing that I can't move in the private sector of my life (private - hah!) without my pin code, I should have thought the answer was obvious. Not of course to the likes of David Davis, who is only playing with the issue for his own ends anyway.

  7. Update

    First Sue, I am so pleased to read your words about the people who looked after you.

    I've just had a lovely call with a new nurse looking after my aunt and received a full report from someone who exhibits competence.

    I suppose it all comes down to intelligence and attitude. I have no sympathy with those who deprecate nurses being educated to degree standard, it's not all bedpans, i realise.

  8. My understanding of the NHS all for one computer system was that it failed due to cost and not being fit for purpose. It was never going to hold DNA data, just medical history and standard ID stuff. Where I work, there are 4 major hospitals, all part of different Trusts. All have different systems, so anyone who has worked in one will have to retrain if they move. Patients who are transferred between hosptials can have xray and scans put onto CDs (as PACS is fairly common). However everything else has to be photocopied and sent with the transfer...or by post. Its pretty archaic.

  9. Dino nurse - That's really interesting.

    I started saying when Lab were first elected, that the NHS IT systems needed a total and utter overhaul - one of the hospitals I stayed in(10 years or so ago) still used DOS!!!!

    This is one of my "White Paper" suggestions. If I ever get time to finish the flipping things, you'll get to see how I think things could improve....

  10. Ah yes...we were promised that at the click of a mouse we could "choose and book" or transfer records UK wide. Anyone who had tried to use C&B will atest to how useless it many times do you choose only to be rebooked? They had the option to employ the same system that Germany uses (pretty good by all accounts) but decided to go with the usual cronies. Hence a US style system (designed for billing- how telling is that) was commisioned. 10 years later and around £12 billion has been spent with little to show for it. Now its to be scaled back to save money. Ho hum. I'm no IT geek but if supermarkets can manage to restock shelves UK wide and companies like Amazon can do the same worldwide- what exactly is the problem? Life in the NHS....

  11. Dino thanks for providing in-house back-up for my points (how do you like that jargon).

    My point to Eoin is that the storing of DNA is not just a fiendish plot to undermine our privacy (b*ll*cks) but could actually save someone's life and as medicine improves its knowledge, these data will become evermore relevant (also in health improvement).

    As a side issue, what really worries me when I visit health establishments is the health of the health practitioners.

    The obesity of the woman I saw today (not the one I spoke of earlier) gave me grave cause for concern. The percentage of porkies in the NHS sometimes reminds me of a documentary about poverty in the former Soviet Union.

    These people are practising medicine and clearly they do not practise what they practice if you follow me.

  12. Howard,

    You give a good reason to boycott census [which is what we have been doing in Ireland for centuries]. My mum always taught me, "if you ask a stupid question, you will get a stupid answer". Religion is indeed a pointless question on a census form... And so, the 1971 census for the overwhelmingly Catholic area of Dungannon records that a quarter of the population are Jewish. A wind up to the census authorities, and a good anecdote I think..


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