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60 seconds with...Peter Gill

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We talk to Peter Gill, ManVan nurse adviser at Welsh charity Tenovus Cancer Care, who has been a nurse for 30 years.

Why did you become a nurse?

Difficult question! So many reasons.

Where did you train?

The Western & Gartnavel School of Nursing in Glasgow.

What was your first job in nursing?

Staff nurse in acute surgery at the Western Infirmary, Glasgow.

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

I am passionate about the importance of nursing within the patient’s cancer pathway, so I get frustrated when people talk about “basic nursing care”. This does not exist. There is nothing basic about expert nursing care. This could be seen as being single minded.

From whom have you learnt the most in your career?

Many professionals - I have also learned so much from patients.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the profession?

Grasp every learning opportunity. Question the status quo. Work on your communication skills - your main role as a nurse is a communicator.

I get frustrated when people talk about ‘basic nursing care’. This does not exist. There is nothing basic about expert nursing

What keeps you awake at night?

The usual questions about work: could I have done it better? Could I have done it differently?

What’s the most satisfying part of your job?

Empowering patients.

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


Tell us a bit about ManVan.

The ManVan is a converted American motorhome that travels throughout Wales enabling people to access specialist support for male cancers nearer to their homes. The project is funded for three years by the Movember Foundation in partnership with Prostate Cancer UK and Tenovus Cancer Care. The support team includes two nurse specialists, a counsellor and a benefits adviser. We support cancer clinics, provide information about treatment and side-effects, assist patients in decision making about treatment options and offer support throughout their cancer pathway.

What are the advantages of delivering care in this way?

This unique project delivers care outside a clinical area where patients and family are offered time in a relaxed environment. They are able to access all members of the team in a one stop shop. We have visited almost 100 locations, had over 3,300 visitors and helped more than 160 men who had a cancer diagnosis and went on to use our support services.

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

Indecisiveness. Personally, I’d like to see fewer meetings about meetings at a local level - less talk, more action!

What’s your proudest achievement?

Surviving 30 years working as a nurse within the NHS and having the same passion for nursing as when I started.

What would your ideal weekend involve?

Good food, good wine, a bit of gardening and my grandsons for company.

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

My father. He died when I was 10. So many questions unanswered.


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