My feet haven’t touched the ground since I arrived back into the U.K! Jet leg didn’t hold me back and the very next morning I jumped onto a train and headed to Bradford to deliver Oliver’s story for Amir Khan at the Bradford Teaching Hospital. Amir is a wonderful GP who is a regular face on the program, ‘GPs behind closed doors’. The room was full to bursting with qualified doctors all training to be GPs. They were humbled by Oliver’s story but also keen to learn lessons from it. The question and answer session at the end was lively, interactive and meaningful.
Amir had to drive rather quickly for me to catch my next train to Birmingham for the Chief Nursing Officers’ summit due to start early the next day. I had been invited as a guest speaker alongside David Harling, Head of Learning Disability in the National Nursing Directorate by our chief Nursing Officer Ruth May. My goodness what an honour and privilege it is to be asked to do this and I had jumped at the opportunity. David is a true inspiration, who works tirelessly to improve the lives of our most vulnerable, ensuring all agencies are following NHSE principles and guidelines.
Ruth May is brand new in post as Chief Nursing Officer, and how fresh and inspirational her views are. It is clear to me that she hasn’t forgotten her roots and is a nurse through and through. I learned from her speech that Ruth is about inclusion, equality and putting patients at the heart of everything she does. She made it very clear that she had the backs of all her nurses, she was listening to what they had to say and that everybody’s voice was valuable. She talked about the problems around recruitment and how she hoped to address this. She talked about valuing and holding on to currently employed nurses. I like Ruth, who is quietly spoken, but speaks from the heart with such honesty, passion and commitment to her nurses and ultimately patients.
I was at the summit for two days and then straight back to Liverpool to deliver Oliver’s story to doctors and nurses at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. Oliver had been a patient there as a tiny baby suffering from meningitis and for me personally it felt good to give something back. I was met by the wonderful Joann Kieran, Consultant Nurse Learning Disability, Senior Lecturer in Learning Disabilities at Edgehill University. This is a passionate lady who is determined to make sure all her patients who have an intellectual disability have a voice and are given equal health care outcomes as everyone else.
The audience was lively and enthusiastic. The first group in the audience were mainly doctors all keen to hear Oliver’s story and what reasonable adjustments would have been used that may have made a significant difference for him. They shared some interesting questions with me around the problems of transitioning care of our vulnerable patients from children’s to adult services and the significant problems they were facing with this. Once the doctors had to leave to fulfil their days work, the audience consisted mainly of nurses, families and care providers. Again, Oliver’s story was embraced by all and we certainly had a very lively conversation following on from it. This is a hospital that embraces positive change and whose staff are committed to autistic patients and those who have intellectual disabilities ensuring that they have good health care and positive experiences when attending their hospital.
So this was my first week home. Busy, interesting but doing something that I believe is Oliver’s legacy. From his horrific preventable death, in his name we can all work to make sure it doesn’t happen to anybody else.
My next exciting blog will see me talking to several ministers during a turbulent and uncertain time for the country. Who knows what I will learn?