A little scare and our wonderful NHS


NHS Logo

The thing I had dreaded for years happened. I was recalled after a routine mammogram.

Some of my dear friends have received the same letter, and after recheck have been diagnosed with breast cancer. I also know that many women are invited for further checks, and sent home with reassurance that all is well. I actually had a premonition that I would be recalled, and although shocked to see the green letter (denoting a problem I feared) I was quite calm. I tried to stay positive, and succeeded I think, but as my husband and I drove into the hospital car park my stomach started to churn. Would this be the beginning of a change in my life? The fear started to creep in. We had trouble parking, and so arrived at the department just in time.

As soon as I walked through the door I received impeccable and exemplary attention. The receptionist was warm, smiling and kind. She went out of her way to direct me to the waiting room, and I instantly felt reassured. There were three other couples in the waiting area, all staring at the TV in the corner. I got out my knitting (Christmas presents!) and started to focus on being calm and strong. After 10 minutes I was called into a treatment room by Rachel, who quietly and carefully told me why I had been asked to come for further checks, and she showed me by mammogram images. A tiny small area of concern had been highlighted and that was the problem. Rachel was so very considerate and reassuring. She gave me the most appropriate care, and helped me to relax. I had a further structured mammogram, then an ultrasound scan. With the help of lovely assistant Heather, Dr Ahmed carried out the scan, and after formally introducing himself and shaking my hand he performed the task sensitively and at all times maintained my dignity. I am shy, so this procedure made me feel anxious. After checking my lymph nodes carefully, he informed me that the tests were clear, and that there was nothing to worry about.

With eyes full of tears, I thanked Dr Ahmed and Heather, and gave them feedback on their positive attitude and approach, explaining how it had helped minimise my fears.

On the way home (with an equally relieved husband) I reflected on this brief but important and potentially life-changing experience, and I felt and still feel enormously thankful to such dedicated caring staff at East Lancashire Hospitals Trust (Burnley site), and to the NHS as a whole.


We owe you so much.

An identity crisis and nurses uniforms


Some of my NHS ID badges!

There are obviously some of my ID badges missing from here…I had a student nurse, staff nurse, pupil midwife and staff midwife badge in addition to the ones above. And so many tales to tell whilst wearing each one. I didn’t know I had kept them all, but as I make my way through cluttered cupboards as I no longer have to work full time, I am finding lots of gems from the past, such as these. If you want to know more about the stories behind the badges, read my book Catching Babies.

It was only when I pondered on all the ‘midwife’ titles did I consider how confused the public must be with the variation in names of staff working in the NHS. And yet I was proud to wear each ID badge, and never gave a thought to the understanding behind the name for those who read it. And then there’s all those uniforms! Oh my, it used to be that a nurse’s uniform was only worn by nurses, but now the snack machine filler looks like a ward sister….

That aside, I really have mixed views about midwives wearing nurses uniforms. Not averse to having a corporate image (so at least the public can distinguish who is the carer in a hospital situation) I once initiated and managed the move to midwives wearing polo shirts and trousers or skirts, instead of a nurse’s attire. The reason being I believe maternity care should be based on a partnership model, with no hierarchies. Once a midwife dons nurse’s outfit there is a division, an unspoken ‘I am the expert’ from the midwife. Now this might not be apparent; the midwife could very well be the most caring and facilitative of woman centred-ness, but the symbol is there. So we wore our navy or green polo shirts with the word ‘midwife’ blazened above the left breast, and all was well. We had a uniform, but it was less imposing, slightly more informal. There was some rebellion, but eventually it was widely accepted. Until, that is, the porters within the hospital (or was it the maintenance men?) started wearing the same regalia! Well let me tell you that caused a stir. There was anarchy.

Two lovely midwives at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust

Nowadays the midwives are back in nurses uniform. What do you think?