Call the midwife?

Does bubbling at Call the Midwife signify a remaining impact of illness, a descent into sentimentality in my old age or did it touch a very real truth for me? That's been this weeks question, among others. Maybe it's all three but I think the small speech around "as a nurse and midwife it is my role to alleviate pain and suffering", was the  part that especially moved me. It took me to a recall of why my former profession fulfilled and sustained me for many years. And why I have been so proud to call myself a nurse even when society still fails to value the nursing profession.

But it's also been the week when I have read again that nurses are having training in compassionate care. What can have happened that we need to retrain people in this when for many that will have been their initial driver for joining the profession? Is it failed leadership that values only administrative skills above those of care and compassion? Is it a culture that promotes organisation centred care rather than person centred that causes this? Is  it a lack of time or training? Seeing those nurses respond to the compassionate care training so positively and express how that enhances their job satisfaction says it all. I have no doubt the patients are reaping the rewards.

The Quality Strategy for health care in Scotland places compassionate care at the top of its priorities , with person centred care at the heart of this. I have been pleased to support work enabling this to become a reality in Scotland. In many ways facilitating this shift in culture was one of the reasons I moved to the voluntary sector , enabling a greater patient voice through advocacy ( like Breakthrough CAN) and Breakthrough Breast Cancer Service pledge . Also as Chair of the Long Term Conditions Alliance I know a collective voice can be a significant driver of change. So when I wistfully remember my days being called Sister( no not a Nun!) and wonder if I could perhaps return to nursing at some point when my work here is complete (mmmmmm.....) perhaps I need a pause to recognise that my role as Director of Breakthrough Breast Cancer in Scotland is perhaps the most powerful way to make a difference for many, and not only those with breast cancer too.

Also in a week when I have called the breast care nurse for advice I want also to recognise the importance of the nurse specialist role. People with conditions like breast  cancer and diabetes have for many years seen their care revolutionised by specialist nursing expertise. That combination of specialist knowledge alongside great communication skills offers the difference to so many, enabling them to understand ,accept and get to grips with their new reality. They are often the unsung heroes, not fitting neatly into boxes of frontline care but as care shifts from hospitals into community their role becomes more and more relevant and important. As resources become even more stretched lets ensure they are properly valued and protected.

So what made me phone this week? Some pre op advice really but also a recognition that my worry bug was taking hold. The 2 am shift had returned with descent into what ifs and surreptitious forays into google fellow travellers will know this one! Daylight puts such fears back in the box thankfully and also feeling a little stronger is helping. On wards and  upwards now I hope.

Reasons to be cheerful. Feeling a little better has to be top of the list. I fear karaoke with the team is not going to be possible but I hope to get back next week and enjoy the banter afresh. My daughter is home soon and we had a real giggle at the clip on TV when she and her colleagues met Jedward during their regular dog adoption slot in Ireland. And two of the dogs already have new homes.
But finally this week our scientists have discovered valuable new information about hereditary breast cancer... this information ,on our website too ,brings personalised medicine even closer and hope for so many in the future. Now that really is a reason to be cheerful. Thanks so much to all of you who have helped to make that possible.


  1. Dear Audrey
    I just happen to come across your blog. It was an interesting read. I definitely will be coming back to read more of your writing. I hope you stop by mine as well....

    My breast Cancer is a little advanced. I am stage3 grade3 with Multifocal tumors with Lymph Node involvement. It has been three yeas since diagnosis for me.

    Alli XX (Canada)


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