Dying doctor launches NHS ‘compassion’ campaign

A TERMINALLY-ILL doctor from West Yorkshire has launched her campaign to encourage health workers to introduce themselves to patients nationwide as she begins further treatment for cancer.

Monday, 2nd February 2015, 11:23 am
Dr Kate Granger

Dr Kate Granger’s “Hello, my name is...” campaign is now being backed by around 90 NHS organisations and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has called it “inspiring”.

The 31-year-old consultant, who works at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield, launched the campaign around two years ago, using the Twitter hashtag #hellomynameis, while receiving treatment for cancer.

She said she made the “stark observation” that many staff “did not introduce themselves before delivering care”.

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Dr Kate Granger

“This felt very wrong so, encouraged and supported by my husband, we decided to start a campaign to encourage and remind healthcare staff about the importance of introductions in the delivery of care,” Dr Granger wrote on her blog.

“I firmly believe it is not just about knowing someone’s name, but it runs much deeper. It is about making a human connection, beginning a therapeutic relationship and building trust.

“In my mind it is the first rung on the ladder to providing compassionate care.

“I really hope my legacy will be putting compassionate practice right at the heart of healthcare delivery every single day.”

Dr Granger was diagnosed with cancer during a holiday the United States in 2011.

But it was only after her return to Yorkshire and after the cancer had spread in her body that it was properly diagnosed as a rare type of sarcoma, which attacks the tissue supporting internal organs.

Dr Granger has been treated with debilitating palliative chemotherapy and was due to start her latest round of treatment this morning.

In her latest blog post, published just after Christmas, she wrote: “I am about to confront some of the most challenging decision-making I have had to on this incredibly tough journey.

“I’m not sure how I will. Do I give the poisoning another shot? Or do I bow out gracefully now? Will treatment have an outcome that we will be satisfied with? How bearable will the toxicities be?”

She added, addressing the cancer: “2015 is likely to be the year you finally get the better of me, but at least I can look back on a life well lived with a true purpose. I’m really scared so please be kind in the way that you decide to take my life.”

Some 400,000 doctors, nurses, therapists, receptionists and porters across 90 organisations are now backing the drive.

Mr Hunt said: “This is an inspiring campaign. All patients should be treated with compassion and the fact this movement has started from within the NHS itself makes it all the more powerful.

“We know that doctors and nurses within the NHS are doing more than ever to provide safe and compassionate care and this movement is harnessing their energy.”

Dr Granger told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “The lack of introductions really made me feel like just a diseased body, not a person. When somebody did introduce themselves it just made a massive difference to how I felt.

“There is evidence out there that it actually improves patient outcomes, that if you have a good relationship with your healthcare staff you are more likely to trust them, you are more likely to share intimate information.”

Dr Granger has joined with Listening Into Action - a programme aimed at shifting ways of working across the NHS by removing bureaucracy and empowering staff to improve patient care - for a national launch today.

And the first major partnership is with her own employer - Mid Yorkshire Hospitals, which serves the Dewsbury and Wakefield areas.

Hannah Forbes, one of the creators of Listening Into Action said: “Kate’s campaign is so important and we wanted to help. We work with a lot of NHS Trusts across the country. Inviting them - and others - to launch their own campaigns on the same day so there is a ‘big bang’ impact, and being able to connect them up so they can learn from each other just made sense.

“The way it has taken off is incredible.”