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Keeping things in perspective

Despite recent headlines, a stay in hospital for Rhona Aikman made her proud to be a nurse ...

I read with interest Helen Lewis's recent Soapbox about how far nursing has come and the comments left from readers. It certainly made me think about my own journey to where I am now and how the role of the nurse will look in another 30 years.

I had not spent any time as an inpatient since my younger son was born 25 years ago and have been community based for the last 20 years. So I had a good understanding of how community nursing had changed and how the role of practices nurses had developed, but limited knowledge of how the changes in hospital had impacted on patient care.

Patient care, particularly of older people, has been in the headlines recently for all the wrong reasons. I had been arguing with myself earlier this year about whether I should have some surgery - major, in my book! Initially, I was for a watch and wait approach but since I had really been doing that for some time I decided to take the professional guidance and have it done. A friend asked me what I would say to a patient in this position if they came to me for advice; so with some trepidation a date was arranged.

Typical nurse, I tried to fit it in around the end of the contract year, a colleague's holidays and upcoming conferences. When no more viable excuses could be found a date was arranged. I am the first to admit that I am a coward when it comes to pain or needles with me on the receiving end, and I was really pretty anxious about the whole thing.

Here I am almost two weeks post-op and wanting to shout out to people about how good our NHS really is. From admission to discharge I would struggle to find anything to complain about, apart from very trivial things, such as lack of a hook on the back of the shower door and, of course, the dreaded hospital food. First impressions matter and my admission went smoothly.

The nurse was very reassuring, explaining what would be happening that day and that she would let me know, once the theatre list for the following day came, when I was likely to go in. More importantly, she came back to me with this information once it was available. Another good sign was that the ward and toilets were very clean looking. Later, my nurse came back and went over the routine for theatre and what to expect when I came back to the ward in terms of a drip and patient-controlled analgesia.

Post-op the care was great, from the frequent checks and reassurance that all was well, to a nurse coming to let me know that my family had been on the phone. Buzzers were answered promptly, even when you could see and hear how busy the ward was. There were two student nurses working on the ward and, if they are typical, then we are very lucky. On the odd occasion when they were not busy they would come round to see if anyone needed anything or ask the trained nurse if she needed anything done. There was a lady in my ward who was anxious regarding an aspect of her post-op procedure and a staff nurse spent a good 15 minutes with her going over her progress and reassuring her it was going to plan.

Maybe I have just been fortunate. I hope not and would like to think that this is what is happening all over the country. My experience made me proud to be a nurse and reminded me how important some time spent with a patient can be.

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"So glad to hear some good news and very pleased that you are well. It does make me wonder if the targets in acute care have had a positive effect? However, I do wonder if the focus on acute care has contributed to the pressures on community care as the stories I hear from District Nurses are not nearly so positive?" - Una Adderley

"It is so good to hear a positive story - I know there is good care out there it just does not grab the headlines. Pleased all went well and will share this news with many" - Sue Spencer

"How fantastic to read something positive for a change ! My first staff nurse post was acute surgery, I absolutely loved it but have been warned off by the vast majority of friends AND my husband, a hospital doc, still working in acute areas. This could make me re think. Thank you!" - Catherine Hughes, Cardiff