On my way home from work one evening this summer I came across a road traffic accident. A motorcyclist had been hit by a car and was clearly in some distress in the road.
As a psychiatric nurse my first thought was this was not my area of specialty, but as a nurse there was an instinctive need to ensure the injured person obtained help and support.
I pulled over and went to assist, much to the relief of the driver of the car and a passing postman.
There was a delay in an ambulance attending the scene so an edge of panic set in as to how I could support the injured rider, as I am not experienced in emergency medicine. But something kicked in and from the recesses of my memory I was able to support with basic assessment of injuries, observations and of course providing reassurance.
From very early in my training to become a registered mental health nurse I remember the virtues of effective multidisciplinary working being promoted.
Throughout my 20-year career I have certainly seen the benefits for patient care when teams work cohesively and effectively together. I have also been able to gain insight into the impact on patients when interprofessional working does not go well.
When relationships for whatever reason have not been established and strengthened, there is the potential for conflict, confusion and at the centre the patient may not get the care they need.
On the night of the accident, over the course of the following next hour I was joined on my hands and knees in the middle of a busy road during rush hour by four other healthcare professionals. These included an off duty paramedic, an orthopaedic and specialist nurse on her way home from the local hospital, and an off-duty A&E consultant who stopped to help. At one point I also looked up to see a colleague of mine from mental health services directing the traffic.
I had never met some of these people before and probably may not meet them again but in the time we were together we were able to work cohesively, using our strengths, knowledge and skillsets to stabilise the patient until an ambulance could be dispatched.
I was very proud of what we were able to achieve and fortunately the injured rider went on to make a good recovery. I suppose my point is if a group of strangers can come together in the middle of the road, having never met before, form a working relationship instantly, work calmly and effectively to support a patient to try and improve outcomes, then surely it can be achieved anywhere.