Friday, July 29, 2016

Farewell but not Goodbye

 On Monday 24th July the following live blog entry appeared on the Pulse website, together with a tweet from Dr Zoe Norris.

09:37 Doctors are mourning their colleague Dr Kate Granger, who died this weekend as a result of cancer.
Before she died Dr Granger, a specialist in elderly medicine, launched a high-profile campaign for doctors and nurses to be more personable to their patients, by always introducing themselves.
In addition to the #hellomynameis campaign, Dr Granger also successfully raised £250,000 in charitable donations for the Yorkshire Cancer Centre before passing away on Saturday.
Tributes have poured in on Twitter since her husband used the social media platform to announce her death - including from NHS England, the health secretary and GP leaders.

I don't imagine after all this time there will be many who will read this (though blogger tells me folk still visit these ramblings from time to time), but I needed to write something.  Like Zoe Norris (a Dr I've not met so far as I know) I am thinking of Kate and her family and colleagues and send them heartfelt condolences.

I was privileged to sit in a seminar room at the BMA Annual Representatives Meeting in Harrogate a couple of years ago to hear Kate talk about the role of social media in her #hellomynameis campaign, and about the vital importance of that simplest of human connections at the start of every encounter we have with our patients. She told us her story, simply and directly and with great humour and like all the best teachers told us things we already knew but often forget in the maelstrom of daily practice.

Too often, as with all the medics and nurses caring for her through the early phase of her illness, we get bound up in the technicalities of illness and its treatment, and risk forgetting both attach to a living, breathing, feeling fellow human being. Practicing outside the hospital I have the luxury of having my name on the door to my room in large friendly letters, but when I'm out and about making house calls (yes occasionally we still do them) I never used to introduce myself. Rather like one of Terry Pratchet's Witches I assumed the whole world knew who I was and ordered itself to my convenience. Since that day in Harrogate I've changed my practice and don't leave people guessing who the occasionally harassed looking  man with a sheaf of notes and bag  is that has just arrived at their door to demand entry.

There are very few people in life I would call inspirational, but Kate was one, and I thank her for reminding me of a simple truth, making me, I hope, a better doctor by that one simple act and everything that stems from it, and wish her and all who love and knew her peace.