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NHS England’s Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) Jane Cummings has praised the “Hello My Name Is…” campaign started by terminally ill Dr Kate Granger.
The CNO spoke out as it was revealed that more than 100 NHS organisations have now signed up to the social media campaign launched by the 31-year-old hospital consultant.
Dr Granger started it as a way of encouraging healthcare professionals to introduce themselves while she has been treated for cancer.
She felt frustrated by staff who failed to tell her their names.
As well as the 400,000 doctors, nurses, therapists, porters and receptionists who have signed up to the campaign, Prime Minister David Cameron, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and rock legend Bob Geldof are also supporting her campaign.
“I really hope my legacy will be putting compassionate practice right at the heart of healthcare,” she explained today on the BBC as the campaign had its collective “big bang” launch.
Dr Granger started her push to improve the patient experience in hospital, shortly after she was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer three years ago.
The doctor who informed her that her cancer had spread did not introduce himself to her and did not look her in the eye.
She was also dismayed by other staff who failed to introduce themselves when caring for her.
She subsequently set up #hellomynameis on Twitter.
Her campaign reminds staff to go back to basics, build trust and make a vital human connection with patients by – at the very least – giving their names.
Dr Granger said: “The lack of introductions really made me feel like just a diseased body and not a real person”.
When someone did introduce themselves, she said, “it really did make a difference to how comfortable I was and less lonely I was in hospital”.
It has now become a national campaign and has the support of over 90 organisations, including NHS Trusts across England, NHS Scotland and NHS Wales.
The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals, where Kate is now working, were the first to sign up and the movement spread from there.
Trusts are now sharing ideas about how to boost compassionate care for patients across the UK.
Dr Granger said the main message from the campaign was about treating patients with respect and dignity.
She said: “I got my cancer diagnosis three years ago and unfortunately I’m not going to get better, I have a rocky road ahead of me.
“I want my legacy to be a better health service.
“I love the health service and I would never work for anyone else, and I think it’s very important that we all think about the care we are delivering and how we can make it better for patients.”
The campaign received enthusiastic support today from Jane Cummings, the Chief Nursing Officer of England, who has been driving compassion in care through the 6Cs campaign.
She said: “I have huge respect for Kate Granger and what she’s provoking in us is so evident in her ‘Hello My Name Is’ campaign.
“Little things make the big difference to people in our care who may feel vulnerable. Building a relationship starts with those of us that provide care. One of the first things to do is introduce yourself. A climate of even more person focused care starts with an introduction.
“Being a patient can be a disorientating experience. Let’s make sure we start with an introduction. Let’s then follow through with compassion in each and every other intervention.”
Expo 2014, NHS England’s innovation healthcare event held in Manchester last year, saw the launch of the Kate Granger Compassionate Care Awards in her honour.
These were handed out outstanding individuals and teams who were putting compassion right and the heart of everything they do.
At the time Dr Granger wrote in a blog for the NHS England website: “What has struck me since I began to publicly share my experiences as a patient is just how powerful the voice of a clinician living life on the other side can be. I never dreamed anyone would listen to what I had to say but now my voice has been heard I am determined to use it in the most positive way possible in my remaining time.
“#hellomynameis was an idea I created after I had been admitted to hospital with a serious post-operative infection and one of my starkest observations was the lack of proper introductions from the healthcare team looking after me. It felt awkward and very wrong. A friendly introduction explaining your role and what you intend to do is the first rung on the ladder to building rapport with a patient, establishing the essential trust and therapeutic relationship.
“Using social media including Twitter and my personal blog, I started to encourage healthcare staff to pledge to introduce themselves to every single patient they met. It is all about inspiring staff to be creative and use the idea to bring about a positive culture change within all care settings.
“The response has been overwhelming with everyone from porters to student nurses to chief executives getting on board with all manner of ideas.
“I think if you’d asked me what was the most important quality in a doctor before I was unwell, I would have said competence. The last three years have taught me how much I now value ‘softer’ aspects of care; by that I mean values that mainly revolve around the patient such as “no decision about me without me” and “see me not just my disease”.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt today said the campaign was inspiring.
“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.”
Jeremy Taylor, chief executive of National Voices, a national coalition of patient charities, called it “a fantastic campaign”.