Amanda Pinkerton, a breast care specialist nurse at Spire Washington Hospital takes a brief look back at the last 25 years.
It’s strange to think that 25 years have gone by so quickly. I joined the hospital from the off – before the doors even formally opened! As part of the very first team to be recruited, we were actually here and in situ for two weeks doing all the preparation before our patients arrived.
Starting out, things were very different to what I was used to. I joined as an enrolled nurse from the NHS where at the time you worked on a general ward or on a ward related to a specific discipline, like surgery or gynaecology. That has never been the case here so my knowledge and experience of the wide range of specialist treatments carried out grew very quickly.
I remember being unnerved by the direct contact with the consultants. At the NHS I liaised with house doctors and there was a very strict hierarchy. It was all very formal. Here it has never been like that and we work closely with our consultants. The only thing to have changed is that today the relationships are more relaxed and balanced, which is nice and in fact a reflection of how the healthcare industry has developed generally.
I have been lucky in that my career has progressed according to my personal interests over the years. After completing a conversion course which enabled me to secure a staff nurse position, I was promoted to senior staff nurse, taking on a lot more responsibility.
One of the projects I completed as part of the conversion programme involved looking at the breast cancer patient’s journey and I realised this was something I wanted to learn more about. In light of this, the hospital enrolled me onto the ‘Principles and practice of breast cancer nursing’ course at Christie Hospital in Manchester. From that point I have never looked back and although I first started in a joint role, I moved fully into the breast care team around four years ago. It’s a privilege working with the ladies who come in for treatment and as part of the fantastic team around me.
I guess the noteworthy developments from the last 25 years remain the various takeovers that we’ve had. Each one has brought a lot of change and uncertainty but I have never wanted to leave and each time we have come out stronger and better, especially under Spire Healthcare.
Since we became Spire Washington Hospital, the building and facilities have greatly improved and developments are always completed with the patients in mind. What’s also different about now is that the management team are very focused on investment into staff - they recognise that by offering us the latest training, we are motivated and are able to provide the highest quality care. I’m certainly proud to say I work here because what we do is special.