Nurse Ellie: Every day is my proudest moment

A real trooper: Star Wars Day (May fourth) is a fun occasion on Ellie’s paediatric ward.

How will the NHS look at 100? To celebrate the 70th birthday of the NHS, The Day is interviewing those who hold the UK’s health in their hands. Today we talk to Ellie, a paediatric nurse.

Ellie’s nursing career was a long time in the making. “I was in hospital a lot as a child,” she recalls. She was inspired by those who helped her: “Ever since then I wanted to be a nurse.”

In 2016, that ambition became a reality when she graduated in nursing from King’s College London. She has worked in a London paediatric unit ever since: “It doesn’t feel like two years, it feels like two months!”

In a normal week Ellie works three or four 12 hours shifts (day or night), with each one starting at 7:45am or pm. No two days are the same: “You can have anything from a broken arm, to appendicitis, to mental health patients: anything really.”

“I love my job,” Ellie beams: “It’s caring for people, making people better, my team — I love my team — just the active role in caring for someone until they get better.” And that’s not all: “Obviously it makes you feel good when people say thank you.”

However, there are plenty of difficulties along the way: “The worst thing is when you try your hardest to help someone, but that particular hour — when you actually can’t do anything — you feel a bit useless.”

But what would she change about the NHS if she had the chance? “From my own personal experience: waiting times,” she says: “Because of advances in procedures there are more people living with conditions who might not have done in previous years… that’s obviously a positive, but also a negative that we have long waiting lists.”

“I think people could use the NHS more wisely,” she continues, “be more resourceful with the services.” As she explains, this means people using pharmacies for common ailments, and only going to A&E for serious problems.

And then, of course, is the issue of funding: “If we are going to keep up with the influx of patients, it probably does need more money.”

Nonetheless, Ellie recommends a career in nursing to anyone considering it — although she does offer this kernel of wisdom: “Enjoy yourself, but make sure you take every opportunity to learn.. I’m still learning things every day.”

How will the NHS look at 100?

“I’m optimistic, what’s the point of being a pessimist?” Ellie says. “Things are always advancing. I think we will still have the NHS, and I think we will have more advances in technology. There is always medical research happening which leads to new medicines. So we’ll probably still have patients living longer, and patients who will need our services more. I don’t know if there will be any major changes… but if the NHS can keep up with demand and we can afford to provide those services, then yeah — things will be good.”

You Decide

  1. Would you support making people pay £25 to see their GP?
  2. Is the NHS Britain’s most important institution?

Activities

  1. Think of all the times you have used the NHS in your life. Overall, what impression did these experiences give you of the health service? Does it seem well run to you? If you had the power, what changes would you make?
  2. Do some research into the different ideas people have for funding the NHS. Summarise the different arguments you find into one sentence each. Which idea do you think is the best? Why?

Some People Say...

“The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it.”

Aneurin Bevan

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
This month, Prime Minister Theresa May unveiled a “birthday present” spending boost for the NHS. It will see that services receive an extra £20 billion a year by 2023. This means its annual £114 billion budget will rise by an average of 3.4% each year — however that is still less than the 3.7% average rise the NHS has had since 1948.
What do we not know?
How NHS funding will change in the future. Some argue that tax increases are needed to specifically pay for health care cash boosts (this is known as a hypothecated tax). Others argue that extra funding should come through citizens paying into mandatory health insurance programs — similar to the system in Germany.

Word Watch

King’s College London
The university’s nursing faculty was established in 1860 by Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.
Paediatric
A branch of medicine that specifically treats children.
Appendicitis
A serious medical condition in which the appendix becomes inflamed.
Waiting times
Since April 2012, the expectation has been for at least 92% of patients to begin treatment within 18 weeks of their first referral to NHS services. This standard was met in the years from 2012/13 to 2015/16, however the NHS missed this target in 2016/17.
Pharmacies
According to the NHS, pharmacies help treat common illnesses; advise on minor health concerns; and offer assistance with sexual health, quitting smoking and cutting down on alcohol.
A&E
Accident and Emergency. These departments deal with life threatening conditions, including (but not limited to) loss of consciousness, acute confused state, fits that are not stopping, severe chest pain, breathing difficulties, severe bleeding that cannot be stopped, severe allergic reactions, and serious burns or scalds.

Subjects

PDF Download

Please click on "Print view" at the top of the page to see a print friendly version of the article.