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'Specialist nurses must show their worth and not rely on others to do it for them'

We talk to Pat Black, consultant nurse in coloproctology at the Hillingdon Hospital Foundation Trust and honorary senior lecturer at Buckinghamshire New University, who started nursing in 1965.

Why did you decide to become a nurse?

My family all said I was going to be a nurse when I grew up. I often helped in my nan’s care.

Where did you train?

The Hammersmith Hospital. It only took post-registration doctors, so we perhaps missed out on some of the fun of training with medical students.

What was your first job?

A male surgical and renal transplant ward. I was fearfully shy. We had to shave the men before prostatectomy and surgery. I certainly had shyness knocked out of me there.

What is the trait you least like in yourself and why?

I do not suffer fools gladly. I find it hard with new managers who want to change everything when they know nothing about the area of work.

Whom have you learnt most from in your career and why?

My matron, Fraser Gamble at Hammersmith, understood student nurses, hospital staff and patients perfectly. When I was thinking of changing jobs she gave me good advice and knew what my strengths were.

What advice would you give someone starting out?

Nursing is not a 9-5 job. You have to give so much more and may never be thanked for it. You will meet wonderful people - patients and staff - who will remain in your thoughts forever and influence your life.

What’s the most satisfying part of your job?

Seeing very complex patients starting to recover and go home to have a life. Seeing patients who thought they would rather die than have a stoma looking well and telling us about their lives, families and travels.

Your proudest achievement?

Personally - bringing up two children as a single parent while working full time. Professionally - being invited to be a guest speaker at the World Council of Enterostomal Therapists conference in 2012 in Australia.

What do you think will change nursing in the next decade?

The specialist nurse role will change as trusts seek to save money. Specialist nurses must show their worth and not rely on others to do it for them.

What job would you like to be doing in five years?

I would like to be at the Department of Health to make them understand stoma care when they randomly decide to hold a consultation on costs. Also to look at the spend in stoma care and explain where this can be reduced.

If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?

Better care for older people. The removal of regular inspection, announced and unannounced, has not helped. Putting homes and hospitals under one umbrella has cut inspectors’ input, and reporting poor care seems to rely on whistleblowing.

Your ideal weekend?

Being with the children and going off to London via the Jubilee Walk along the Thames.

If you could spend an hour with someone, who would it be?

Andrew Lansley to ask him why he is making such a pig’s ear of the NHS.

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