Professional Head of Therapies

My main inspiration is the patients we work with. Seeing the difference you can make to a family’s life is humbling and continues to inspire me today, even after 30 years in the NHS.

Holding someone’s hand both literally and figuratively as they struggle to deal with the unexpected blow of having a child with significant and complex disabilities is both a humbling experience and an honour and privilege.

Having the training and the skills to improve that life, help their child towards independence, or even do something as “simple” as lifting their head long enough to smile at mum and dad is a feeling I don’t think you can get from many jobs.

Every day is different. The magic moments, such as seeing a young child with cerebral palsy take their first independent steps during a physiotherapy session (with many parental and therapist tears).

On a personal level I have much to thank the NHS for. As a patient and parent I have seen first-hand the importance and difference that staff attitude can make to the patient experience.

Today would have been my son’s 20th birthday – unfortunately he died immediately after birth from a severe heart defect that had gone undetected.

The support that I received from my GP, my Health Visitor and the Children’s Community Nursing Team (providing specialised counselling for my very young daughter) epitomised exactly the compassionate care that I aspire to deliver myself. Some of these people are still working and I would like to extend my thanks to them all – they made such a huge difference to what was a very difficult and challenging time for us as a family.

I have just spent the day attending a specialist clinic with my 22 year old daughter. My daughter has severe, uncontrolled asthma and I would imagine is only here today due to the skills of the staff and the advancements in care within the NHS. I was struck in clinic today by the obvious interest and care in her as an individual by her consultant and the asthma nurse, and the determination to discover the underlying causes of the issues that are so severely impacting on her quality of life. This has meant a further raft of tests, referrals to other services and involvement in clinical trials. All of this is costing her nothing – I dread to think what the actual cost would be in other healthcare systems!

My NHS hero is Dr Charlie Fairhurst, a Consultant in Paediatric Neurodisability. He currently works at the Evalina Hospital in London, but previously worked at Chailey. Charlie is a very funny guy (he trained with Harry Hill and performed with him at the Edinburgh Festival) but he exudes compassion for the children with really severe complex disabilities he works with.

He communicates at their level, listens to and respects their families. He is also a real team player – respects the nurses and therapists with whom he works and is a keen advocate for their professions too. He is exactly the type of professional who gives the NHS a good name.