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The response to the Manchester attack made me proud to be a nurse

Following the attack on the Manchester Arena, paediatric nurse Sophie Monk worked overtime to make a distressing situation manageable for patients, and staff.

Following the attack on the Manchester Arena, paediatric nurse Sophie Monk worked overtime to make a distressing situation manageable for patients, and staff


The Queen visiting staff at Manchester Children's Hospital following the attacks. Picture: Getty Images

Working as a paediatric nurse at the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital for the past five years, I have often been exposed to difficult situations and worked in challenging circumstances. Life as a nurse on the ward can often be difficult on an emotional level.

During my time I have seen many situations that have been incredibly distressing. Over the past few weeks I have been nursing victims of the Manchester attack and, at this awful time, seen how a fantastic nursing team can make a distressing situation manageable.

Helpless feeling

I first found out about the attack from a friend on social media. The morning after, I got up and watched the news like any other day, not realising the vast scale of what had happened. I felt helpless and I knew that, as a tertiary centre, the ward would be treating victims. As a nurse, it is instinctive to do anything to help in a difficult situation. So that morning I rang the ward and decided to do overtime to help.

'It was apparent that it had affected people in different ways, from feeling upset and disbelief about what had happened, to overwhelming pride at the support from the public'

On my first shift back since the attack, I went into hand over and spoke to my colleagues who had been working with the victims. It was apparent that it had affected people in different ways, from feeling upset and disbelief about what had happened, to overwhelming pride at the support from the public. On the ward, the nursing team worked as one, going above and beyond to work effectively to provide compassionate holistic care. Even a simple 'do you need any help' has been greatly appreciated.

Most challenging

Being a nurse is not just about giving medications and forming a treatment plan, it is about being compassionate, communicating effectively with your patients and building rapport to provide the best individualised care for that patient. It was one of the most challenging shifts of my career so far.

I went home feeling a mix of emotions; privileged to work with such a supportive team and heartbroken about what had happened to the victims of the attack.

Colleague support

As a nurse, it is important to have a point of contact to talk to about difficult situations. My NHS trust had put on group sessions for staff to talk to a psychologist about the attack. The sister in charge recommended I go to the session as I had been looking after the victims. I went with a colleague to the session and we found it extremely helpful.

I had felt guilty about being upset, as I was a nurse there to be strong and support the victims. However, after talking with my colleagues about this later, I realised most of us felt the same way. More than ever I think this highlights the need for nurses to communicate with each other in difficult situations.

I would like to say a huge thank you to all the ward staff for being an anchor of support in an emotional environment, working tirelessly with compassion and the utmost strength and kindness.

I have never been more proud to be a nurse. It is an honour to meet inspirational children and families and see them overcome such hurdles. We nurses should be proud of what we do, every single day.


About the author

 Sophie Monk is a paediatric nurse, Ward 78 at the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital
 

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