28 May 2021

Celebrating our nurses

We spoke to Gail Byrne, Chief Nursing Officer, as part of International Nurses Day. She said:

“This last year has been very challenging, and it’s amazing to see the local community support for University Hospital Southampton.

I’m immensely proud of our UHS nurses. They’re an inspiration to me. They have given care with compassion, are courageous, and always put patients first.

Covid-19 means that patients have not been able to have their families by their bedside, and so I have heard numerous stories about how nurses held the hand of the patient, and stayed with them for comfort.

Nurses touch people’s lives when they are at their most vulnerable. They hold their hands. They are skilled in the care that they give.

During the first wave everyone galvanized together. We all went through it.

During my whole nursing career I have never gone around the wards and seen what I did at that time: how poorly the patients were, how hard the staff were working, with everyone wearing full PPE.

We had such good wishes from the public during the first wave, and the reputation of nurses grew during that time. It highlighted what they were going through on a daily basis.

Bereavement Care at Southampton Hospitals Charity
Thank you

Support from Southampton Hospitals Charity was crucial at this time.

One of the things that was most needed were the boost boxes that went around the wards.

Things like fruit, snacks or drinks that you could just grab were really welcomed by staff, as it was often hard to take a real break.”

We hope these stories gave you a flavour of the amazing work our nurses do every day

Patient Story #1:

A young boy, age 11, came into the hospital, and was on the Autism spectrum.

He hated the thought of having his cannula removed at the end of his stay. The nurses took their time with him, used ‘magic water’, and made sure he had lots of breaks during the process.

They cheered him up, and did a victory dance once the cannula was out! His mum was overwhelmed by his care, all above and beyond, especially as on a busy ward.

Patient Story #2:

A newborn baby needed a heart operation. At just four days old he was treated in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit, then moved to our specialist children’s heart unit, Ocean Ward.

Mum said the nurses were incredible, giving her son 100% around the clock care. They would even sit beside him when she couldn’t be there. He was never alone.

The family will forever remember the nurses that cared for their son.

Patient Story #3:

These are the words of the mother of a child on our Piam Brown children’s cancer ward.

“Thank you does not seem enough to express adequately what I’d like to express to you, the nurses.

As parents whose lives have just come crashing down, some of us can become a little self consuming, saying things like “when will my child get their meds? Why is my child not first on the list? Why hasn’t the doctor been in?”

Child playing

Because you are nurses on the frontline, you often take the brunt of these demanding questions, keeping polite, patient and understanding.

No child comes onto this ward with a minor issue, they all have cancer. We know that what you do literally saves our child’s life.

So when it’s overwhelming, you’re running behind, and people are getting annoyed with you, you haven’t had a break, it’s 9 o’clock and you haven’t done your paper work. Please, please know we see you.

You continue to be upbeat, professional, friendly, patient and kind. Nurses that will perform a ridiculous dance just to get a smile from a struggling teenager. Nurses who come in singing with the IV pole. Nurses that learn the names of the cartoons a toddler likes.

You hide the strain very well and you show us the excellence of nursing care. You’re doing one of the most critical jobs in the world with very little thanks. At the time in these children’s and families lives when they are at their most vulnerable, scared and desperate, you are there making a difference. We see it and we remember it. Thank you.”



From all of us at Southampton Hospitals Charity, we want to thank our medical teams and support staff for all that they do to support our patients.

Show your support today, and help us to be there when they need us the most.

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