Analysis

Recognition for nurse who shunned retirement and came back to work

A retired colorectal surgical nurse who missed her job so much that she returned to work for her trust’s staff bank has been named runner up in the bank nurse category of the Nursing Standard Nurse Awards 2015

A retired colorectal surgical nurse who missed her job so much that she returned to work for her trust’s staff bank has been named runner up in the bank nurse category of the Nursing Standard Nurse Awards 2015.

After four decades of nursing, Elizabeth Browse (pictured) retired in 2010. However, following a short break she realised she still wanted to care for patients so offered her services to the bank at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. ‘Nursing has always been my passion and I felt I could still contribute and put skills to good use,’ she says.

Post was 'unbeatable'

Two years ago she joined the trust’s colorectal nursing team, where she had spent most of her career. She started training at St Thomas’ in 1970, becoming a surgical ward sister in 1976. After spending six years doing voluntary work overseas, she returned to the hospital in 1986, working in a variety of surgical areas. Colorectal surgical nursing eventually became her sole specialty. She was a ward sister for 28 years. ‘I found the challenges, stimulation and fulfilment of my sister post unbeatable,’ she says.

Picture credit: Tim George

When Ms Browse rejoined, patient demand had led to the colorectal team needing immediate help. Ms Browse covered four roles in two years – in enhanced recovery, the infusion unit, endoscopy and, currently, colorectal cancer – all ‘a little out of my comfort zone’.

She says: ‘A bank nurse has to hit the ground running – I was slightly concerned I would be more a hindrance than a help. I had never worked in outpatients before.’

New challenges

However, her work led consultant colorectal nurse Fiona Hibberts to nominate her for the award. ‘All these roles brought new challenges and ways of working, and demanded new skills,’ Ms Hibberts says. ‘Liz took them on without complaint and rose to the challenge every time. She seized opportunities and learnt on the job – fast! This enabled the service to continue without compromising on care.’

Ms Browse helped pilot and fine-tune a pathway that provided direct pre-assessment for investigations straight after a patient had seen a consultant.

‘I would also learn about patients’ other health issues and explain how they needed to prepare their bowel for each test,’ she says. ‘This often involved a complex and rigorous regime over a number of days which for many, particularly frail older people, would be difficult.’

The pilot was successful and the service is now established and working well.

Health reviews

Ms Browse also supports the colorectal cancer nurse specialists by helping to complete health reviews, often by telephone.

Her experience and skills have proved invaluable, as has her way with patients. ‘We have put Liz into many different scenarios: direct face-to-face, one-to-one consultations, ward situations and telephone consults, and each time patients comment on her friendly approach and ability to put people at ease,’ says Ms Hibberts.

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