Celebrating Nurses’ Day at McKesson UK

Ashley Cowen, Supply Chain and Operations Director at McKesson UK recently took over responsibility for nursing operations at LloydsPharmacy Clinical Homecare. With Nurses’ Day approaching (Sunday 12 May), he reflects on what he’s learned so far and gives us an insight into the work our nurses are doing to support patients in their homes.

With increasing pressure being put onto our health system, nurses continue to be the unshakable backbone of patient care in this country. We all know the amazing work they do, but my appreciation of them has taken on added significance over the last few months. We have all, no doubt, benefited from the caring hand of nurses, but getting to see them work close-up, I now have an even greater respect and understanding of the profession.

My career until now has been primarily focussed on operations and supply chain which sounds a million miles away from clinical nursing, but I have been struck by the commonalities between those two worlds. They’re both about having a passion for providing a great service and meeting the needs of the end user. A picker or a driver within one of our distribution centres, handles every product with care, knowing that it will soon be needed by a patient. The big difference is the direct relationships that our nurses have with patients. Their one-to-one clinical interactions helps to remind us why we are all here – to help people to live with better health.

It takes a special type of person to build their professional career around helping people. It is their selflessness, empathy and a willingness to go above and beyond to help others, that defines the nursing profession. These values are all too often taken for granted – which is why having a dedicated Nurses’ Day is so important.

I recently learned the story of Ibrahim Momoh, one of our nursing trainers at LloydsPharmacy Clinical Homecare. Much of his family live in Sierra Leone, close to where the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak began. We sometimes forget how lucky we are in this country to have instant access to healthcare, whenever we need it. In some countries, even the most basic of medical provisions and training are in scarce supply.

Ibrahim told me: “Since the news cameras have moved on after the Ebola crisis, the healthcare issues in Sierra Leone are no longer front-page news, but the problems haven’t gone away”.

That’s what inspired him to get involved. He arranged for returned and short-dated medical supplies to be put to one side and donated. In places like Sierra Leone, protective clothing such as aprons, gloves and hand wash are in short supply, which makes helpful donations like this even more vital.

After raising £1,500 to transport all of the stock, Ibrahim then travelled to Sierra Leone, taking six weeks’ unpaid leave to visit his family, and also to see how the donations were being put to use.

Whilst over there, he spent time with the nursing and midwifery teams, delivering training on some of the basic skills like hand hygiene, monitoring patients’ vital signs, basic life support skills and infection prevention management; demonstrating and using the donations.

Ibrahim’s story is just one example of how our nurses are willing to go that extra mile to ensure that patients receive the best possible care. Across McKesson UK, we have over 300 nurses, providing services in patients’ homes, healthcare centres, or vaccination clinics (through MASTA). I have no doubt that there are many more moving stories like this, where our nurses have gone above and beyond – and hearing them never gets old.

Please join me in celebrating Nurses’ Day this year and taking a moment to recognise the vital role they play in caring for people that need it most.