Monday, 31 March 2008

Fundraising nurse retires after four decades in NHS

A POPULAR Sheffield nurse and fundraiser who dedicated her working life to caring for others has retired after more than 40 years in the NHS.
Suzanne Wesley, from Handsworth, has worked at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital - including time at the Royal Infirmary - before that, for 43 years.

Since 1968, she has been on the neurosurgical ward looking after some of the regions' poorliest patients working her way up to a matron position.

She was also one of the first trustees of the Neurocare charity which raises money for the Royal Hallamshire Hospital's neurosciences department and over the last 20 years has made a significant contribution to its success.

"I have loved every minute of my career and would do it all again if I could," said Suzanne, aged 61. "I've so enjoyed working with the patients and the multi-disciplinary team that made my time so special."

Her interest in caring for patients with brain conditions started early in her career.

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"I had a placement on the neurosurgical ward during my second year as a student nurse and I knew it was for me so I went back as much as I could and eventually, when qualified, got a permanent position as a staff nurse," she explained.

"The patients really are so vulnerable and nearly every case touches you. I look back over the years and there are hundreds that stand out – lots are miracles who we never thought would survive but they pulled through," said Suzanne.

Only a third of people cared for on N ward, where Suzanne worked, are from Sheffield. The rest are from other parts of South Yorkshire and beyond such as Lincoln, Grimsby and Scunthorpe.

Many have congenital abnormalities, brain injury or trauma, tumours and haemorrhages and their needs are often very complex.

"As a neuro nurse you to have be very highly-skilled, once you've nursed on a neuro ward you can nurse anywhere," added Suzanne.

In 1987, a group from the ward, including a consultant anaesthetist and neurosurgeon, set up a charity called Neurocare to help provide equipment originally for the neuro intensive care unit. Soon after it formed, Suzanne joined as a trustee and, 20 years on, it is still something she is extremely passionate about.

"We did such a lot of hands on fundraising back in the early days from organising jumble sales and fairs to a cricket match between the Sheffield and Liverpool neurosurgeons after the Hillsborough disaster.

It is wonderful to see the charity going from strength-to-strength now providing equipment for not just neurosurgery but neuromedicine too - it provides such a lot of support especially for patients' families. Often they have suffered such a devastating loss or a really frightening experience involving a loved one and just want to say thank you and put something back. Helping Neurocare provides them with a way to do that.

"The brain scanning that is now on offer is one of the most remarkable changes that I have seen over the 43 years from CT, and MRI to the 3D 'Sonowand' scanning equipment which Neurocare has helped fund.

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