My job

'It's up to nurses to tell politicians how it is'

Professor Matt Griffiths on lobbying the home office, changing the game for emergency nurses and why the recent attacks in Westminster and Manchester will mean a thorough review into major incident plans.

Professor Matt Griffiths on lobbying the Home Office, changing the game for emergency nurses and why the recent attacks in London and Manchester will mean a thorough review of major incident plans

Picture: Charles Milligan

What is your job?

I am a practising advanced nurse practitioner in urgent first contact care and visiting professor of prescribing and medicines at Birmingham City University. I also have roles with the Resuscitation Council UK and the British National Formulary. As an independent consultant, I work with organisations to investigate errors, as well as chairing and presenting conferences.

What might you have done otherwise?

I would have considered a career in politics. I loved being involved in major legislative changes to bring in nurse prescribing and lobbying to allow non-medical prescribers to be able to prescribe controlled drugs. I have been called to give written and verbal evidence to select committees in both the House of Lords and the House of Commons. We need more nurses who have real life experiences to tell it as it is to politicians.

How and where have you developed your emergency care skills?

I have worked in emergency departments (EDs) in Bath and in minor injuries departments in Glastonbury and Warminster. I undertook my ED certificate at Southampton University Hospital and my emergency nurse practitioner course at Oxford Brookes University. I also completed my Advanced Life Support and Advanced Trauma Life Support courses, which were both great for day-to-day emergency nursing.

How has prescribing changed nursing practice over the years, especially in emergency care?

I genuinely believe that nurse prescribing helped save the NHS because it has allowed more flexibility for us delivering care to our patients. It has changed the role we have as nurses and the care we give to our patients. It has certainly helped us to develop our role to see a patient for entire episodes of care. Now more than 10% of the entire profession has a prescribing qualification. 

What motivated you to get involved in nurse prescribing in the first place?

When I was completing my emergency nurse practitioner course, I wrote a paper on expanding nurse prescribing. Rather than putting this back in my folder, I submitted it to the Crown report on prescribing, which led to a role as a senior lecturer at Homerton College, University of Cambridge. I then became an activist for the RCN, where I advised members on prescribing and medicines management issues.

What achievement are you proudest of?

My involvement in developing nurse prescribing over the years, being the first nurse ever to be elected to the Resuscitation Council executive or being offered professorial chairs would seem the most obvious. However, my day-to-day involvement in patient care, whether saving a life as a BASICS practitioner or diagnosing, investigating, treating and appropriately referring patients, makes me the proudest.

What makes a good emergency nurse?

A passion for good quality patient care is important. In the current climate, it is challenging for staff to remain motivated and enthused in every act they perform. As a patient myself on several occasions, kind and caring staff make the experience so much easier and give you confidence in the care you are given.

What is the greatest challenge you have faced and how have you overcome it?

Getting controlled drugs added to the nurse prescribers’ formulary, as it meant changing two pieces of legislation that were under different government departments. I lobbied the Home Office on a weekly basis, set up a petition and wrote articles about how the delays impacted on patient care.

I enlisted the help of both MPs and members of the House of Lords to ask the Home Office ministers questions. Eventually the changes were made.

What advice would give a nurse who’s starting out in emergency care?

Grab every opportunity to learn. An understanding of clinical areas and challenges outside the ED is also important because understanding the pressures and limitations of colleagues who refer patients or will be taking over the care of ED patients will ensure smoother care. Being an emergency nurse means that continuous learning is essential.

What is likely to affect emergency nurses most over the next 12 months?

Brexit may affect staffing in our departments. The recent general election will affect how much support the NHS gets. The attacks in London and Manchester will affect emergency nurses and it is likely that major incident plans will need reviewing. 

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