NHS Conference in Doncaster

Last week I was asked to speak at a brilliant event in Doncaster – 2015 RDaSH (Rotherham, Doncaster and South Humber NHS Trust) Annual Research Conference.


I’d been contacted by Heather Rice months and months ago so I knew I wasn’t an afterthought as discussed in one of my blogs last week. I was given 45 minutes to talk about my story and my experience and views of research and take questions. The event was around general research and had speakers from all areas. It was nice to address NHS staff about research.

Sadly for me I lost all the communication received from Heather due to all the hassle I had with my emails and my nightmare day where I deleted my inbox😱(the thought still sends me into a cold sweat….). However Evie Chandler contacted me with all the details and was wonderful at keeping in touch and arranging everything for me. She kindly booked my tickets and had a taxi meet me at the station to drive me to the venue – Doncaster Rugby Club. All this was enormously helpful and makes the day so enjoyable and so free from stress – I wish others would consider such help when asking people with dementia to speak at events. Many are helpful but an equal number make assumptions and are surprised when you ask for help……..

Once I arrived Heather Rice and Evie Chandler were there to meet me.
The audience was mainly from the NHS – but Chris Rhymes was also there from the Clinical research network.
I arrived in time for coffee – which seems to be a habit of mine😊. I was pleased to see a Join Dementia Research stand and Chris Rhymes was the first to pop up and say hello.
There was a choice of seminars before it was my turn. I’m lucky in so far as I’m often able to attend seminars that I wouldn’t, under normal circumstances, have access to. So I chose to attend something different.
I decided on a talk by Helen Oldknow – Clinical quality and standards lead in RDaSH – she was talking about her research entitled – ‘Examination of mental health non prescribing nurse prescribers in the NHS.’ – Why nurses who are qualified to prescribe choose not to prescribe………

Helen had some ‘technical’ difficulties at the beginning – i.e. the laptop refused to work – another reason I rarely do powerpoint………however, she would make a brilliant stand up comedienne as her banter was brilliant.
Once the technical stuff had been sorted she started by telling us a bit about the history of nurses prescribing as the main findings of her research centred around cultural influences. It took from 1992, when the nurse prescribing act was introduced to 2012 before nurses could prescribe independently – 20 years!
Her research was trying to find the reasons why nurses in mental health, when they could prescribe, why they chose not to…..
There is so much history around mental health nursing. It wasn’t until 1920 that mental health nurses were accepted into the Royal college of nursing…..
1982 saw the introduction of a new Mental Health Nurse syllabus which signalled the end of ‘institutionalised training’.
In the Trust she was researching there were 659 mental health nurses – only 42 were prescribers – but of these 42 only 29 were currently prescribing and 10 had never prescribed – why???

The mental health nurses said the practicalities seemed too long winded – it was easier to get a doctor to prescribe.

Another interesting fact was that of all the general nurses in the Trust all but 1 general nurse called themselves a ‘nurse’ – but only half of Mental Health Nurses called themselves ‘nurses’ – they would call themselves everything but……what a sad culture of how mental health nurses perceive themselves. Is it any wonder that mental health patients see a stigma attached if nurses aren’t even willing to call themselves ‘mental health nurses’?

One mental health nurse gave the reason for not prescribing as :
‘I can’t imagine that they (the consultant) would be happy for me to make decisions – I’m happy that they make decisions…………
Where does this leave the future of ‘Nurse led clinics’?
There’s no monetary recognition for those with a prescribing qualification which seems to imply a lack of acknowledgement on behalf of the NHS for the value of being able to prescribe…….

A fascinating talk and one I’m glad I attended.

Next it was me in the main hall. Everyone came together – just over 100 me thinks. My talk was around the lack of buy in from NHS staff around the value of patient involvement in research and how the NHS can’t move froward without research; the post code lottery that exists around research engagement etc etc.
It seemed to go down well and there were questions from the audience afterwards which is always a good sign. One interesting one was how to engage carers to accept involvement in research – my response was for the NHS, including GPs, to make involvement ‘normal’; to advertise involvement more in Gp surgeries and for GPs to play their part in encouraging patients to be involved. This would then take away the fear that many people still felt around research participation.

I had lunch with 2 lovely ladies – one a modern matron in hospice care – the area has one of a handful of hospices in the country that is attached to the NHS. The other was a matron in mental health. I forgot to write down their names sadly.
They were both going to put into action things I’d said in my talk, which was good.

I can’t believe I didn’t take any photos!!! But my mind is not fully engaged at the mo due to the imminent challenge of moving house…….


About wendy7713

On the 31st July 2014 I was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. I may not have much of a short term memory anymore but that date is one I’ll never forget. I’m 58 years young, live happily alone in Yorkshire, have 2 daughters and I’m currently still in full time employment in the NHS. However, I’m now in the process of taking early retirement to give me a chance of enjoying life while I’m still me. I've started this blog to allow me, in the first instance, to write all my thoughts before they’re lost. If anyone chooses to follow my ramblings it will serve as a way of raising awareness on the lack of research into Alzheimer's. It will hopefully convey the helplessness of those diagnosed with dementia, as there is no cure – the end is inevitable. However, I’m also hoping I can convey that, although we've been diagnosed, people like me still have a substantial contribution to make; we still have a sense of humour; we sill have feelings. I’m hoping to show the reality of trying to cope on a day to day basis with the ever-changing environment that dementia throws at those diagnosed with the condition. What I want is not sympathy. What I want is simply to raise awareness.

2 thoughts on “NHS Conference in Doncaster

  1. Interested to read of the help received in arranging your attendance at this event and your wish that other organisations would act likewise in asking people with dementia to speak at events. I think it would be good practice for anyone to offer support to anyone. No one knows who might be disabled (underneath what may seem a non-disabled exterior) and there are many other conditions which can trigger anxiety in someone for a whole host of reasons when having to operate outside their normal environment or comfort zone.

    Liked by 1 person

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