Argh! I’ve got an interview

After my nice cheap tyre repair yesterday, the positivity is continuing.

I had an email this afternoon inviting me for an interview for the Clinical Leadership Fellowship. I was surprised.

I was really happy with my application form but had to do a numeric reasoning exercise which didn’t go very well. I spoke to my manager last week and she hadn’t been approached for a reference so I decided that I hadn’t been successful and we even had a conversation about trying again next year.

The interview is in 2 weeks time. I have to give a presentation giving my personal narrative on my project proposal. My idea is to improve the assessment and treatment of incontinence so ensure everyone that is seen within our county has an equal standard of care and treatment options rather than just being offered pads. I have to now put all of this together into a professional looking plan and idea. And then link it into a QIPP stream.

Also debating whether I need to take my portfolio with me. Not sure if I even know where it is. I confess my portfolio only makes an appearance and looks up to date when I’m looking for a job. I haven’t been job hunting for nearly 7 years so I have no idea where it is.

I can see many hours sitting in the library between now and the 8th


Beat the Heat – week 8

My Goals

1. Achieve a better work/life balance

2. Get back into reflective journalling

3. Lose 5lbs

4. Learn to meditate and/or relax

5. Complete 3 things on my DayZero Project

6. Complete one sewing project (regain my sewing mojo)


1.       What did you do this week to work towards your goals?

Failed miserably on the work/life balance. I’m in love with my work laptop as it makes things much easier but the downside is I can now work from home. Things were mad last week and I ended up sitting doing a pile of work Saturday night – not good. I’ve found a new nursery so just have to get Samuel signed up there ready to change in November and I think everything is sorted there.

I lost 1lb. I don’t feel very worthy of that pound and was surprised but I will take it thank you very much. Will just be a bit wary of next weeks weight but happy to have lost 5lbs in 3 weeks.

Also on a random note – join a book club is on my DayZero list. I’ve been looking for a while with no success. Out of the blue I was followed on twitter this week by Northampton Literature Group. Not sure why, I do not display any literaery skills! Anyway, I had a look at their website and they have a reading circle. Had a look  and they meet very close to where I live. I’ve made contact and will be going to the next meeting 🙂

2.       What did you do this week to make yourself feel fabulous?

Nothing. Still struggling this week. Decided on an impromptu trip to Mum and Dads caravan for bank holiday weekend so looking forward to that.

3.       What has been your biggest challenge this week?

Our washing machine died on Thursday. I’m just really fed up and feel we’ve had 4 weeks of continual rubbish and upheaval – nursery, illness, Steven’s bike and the garage.  I came home from work and Steven told me about the washing machine. After my pathetic attempts to fix it it was clear that best case scenario was paying someone to fix it, worst was a new machine. I wasn’t happy. I went upstairs, locked myself in the bathroom, cried, got it out of my system and then came downstairs like nothing had happened. It can’t be fixed for a reasonable amount of money and we were advised to just get a new one.

I spent the weekend taking my washing to my sister in laws and neighbours so we have clothes to wear. The new one arrives on Wednesday so we’re just getting on with it now 🙂

4.       Do you need neatness and order to feel good or does a bit of untidiness not bother you?

I like order but I am very untidy. A room can look like a total tip but I generally know where everything is.  I can’t handle too neat – it feels a bit clinical and OCD for my liking. I need some kind of system but its fine if that system is organised chaos.

5.       Would you rather be attacked by 20 duck sized horses or 20 horse sized ducks?

I am still totally puzzled by this random and bizarre question. I’ll go with the duck sized horses – I’ll be bigger than them and hopefully can run faster than them.

Positive picture

A random one. My car started making a horrible noise on the way to work this morning. Eventually I found a piece of wood with a nail through it stuck in the front wheel. It was on the edge so I thought I was now going to have to get a new tyre.  I managed to get to work. The little garage by my office didn’t do tyres so he recommended someone round the corner (didn’t know this place existed). He looked at it, said straight away that he could repair it and I could leave the car there and he would fix it all whilst I was at work. I left very happy, feeling much more positive with a bill far better than a new tyre.

(Please note, this isn’t my actual wheel – mine are filthy. It does look like that though for accuracy)

Apple, Plum and Onion Relish

So onto the next batch of plums. I’ve had more success in the past with my pickles and chutneys so decided to play it safe for the next one.

  • 5 plump garlic cloves
  • 10cm piece of fresh root ginger
  • 2 green chillies – deseeded if desired
  • 1kg cooking apples – peeled, cored and chopped
  • 675g sweet onions – peeled and chopped
  • 500g plums, stoned and chopped
  • 360mls cider vinegar
  • 300g white granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh sage

Using a food processor work the garlic, ginger and chillies into a paste


This smelt gorgeous after going in the food processor (maybe had been a bit heavy handed with the ginger)



Put all the ingredients except the sage in a preserving pan, and bring to the boil stirring until the sugar has dissolved (at this point I realised I really need a preserving pan as I battle to fit it all in my large pan)


Over a fairly low heat, simmer for 40 minutes until reduced and thickened.  Stir in the sage and continue to simmer for 2-3 minutes.

Pot in hot sterilised jar and cover with vinegar proof seals.



Secretly I’m optimistic about this one. Early testing makes me feel its a little bit feisty. Could be good with some cheese.

Recipe taken from Jams & Chutneys by Thane Prince

Plum and Cinnamon Jam

Yesterday morning I did my usual trick of dragging the kids down to the library to kill some time. On the way home we passed our local allotments and it was their open day so we went in for a bit of a nose.

They had a stall selling fruit and vegetables at ridiculous prices. I managed to get a weeks worth of vegetables and 4lb of plums for less than £5. The glut of plums meant I have had a very busy morning.

So to start, plum and cinnamon jam. I made a batch last year and had issues with it not setting. You have to use a spoon to get it out of the jar but it still tasted gorgeous so I decided to have another try.



  • 1kg plums
  • 1kg white granulated sugar
  • 10cm cinnamon stick
1. Cut the plums into halves, removing the stones
2.  Finely grind the cinnamon (this was more difficult than I thought and ended up throwing it in the food processor)
3. Put the fruit into a preserving pan with 250ml water, sugar and cinnamon. Cook gently over a moderate heat for 10-15 minutes until the sugar has dissolved.
4. Increase the heat, bring to a full rolling boil and cook for 3-5 minutes until the jam has reached setting point.
This is where I hit the same problem as last time. It just did not want to set. I kept boiling and testing and nothing was happening. I had a bottle of pectin in the fridge so threw half of that in and it made no difference. I really do not know what I am doing wrong. Maybe jam is not my forte. Tastes alright though. Everything I read says plums are full of pectin so set far too easily. Just not the plums I buy!

Pulse oximetry screening

I have a new bee in my bonnet for congential heart defects.

At the moment not all heart defects are detected. Some are found during antenatal screening but not all.  At birth all babies are examined by a doctor and a check of the heart is part of this but again, not all heart problems are picked up by this.

Samuel was one of the missed babies. Despite being seen by several people during the first weeks of his life his heart defect was not diagnosed until he was seriously ill. He was admitted with breathing problems and had been in hospital overnight, being treated for a chest infection when his heart murmur was first heard. The ‘chest infection’ turned out to be severe heart failure.  A short time later he had a cardiac arrest and we went through the hell of watching him being resuscitated and then given the news that he needed to be ventilated but was actually too ill to be ventilated at that time.

We are the lucky ones. Samuel is now very well and has a normal healthy life. Congenital heart defects are the commonest form of birth defect (1 in 133 births) and one of the leading causes of childhood death.

A recent study has shown that there is a simple, cheap and effective way of increasing the detection rates of congenital heart defects in newborn babies. By checking the oxygen saturation of a baby as part of their newborn health check, the detection rate increased to 92%. This means that problems are detected earlier and treatment can start immediately before heart failure, cardiac arrest or even death can happen.

Presently, all newborns are routinely tested for deafness – this affects 1 in 1,000. They have a blood test to screen for PKU and MCADD – each affecting 1 in 10,000. A range of other conditions, all rarer than heart defects are screened.

Pulse oximetry is quick, simple, painless, and cheap, using equipment that is already widely available within healthcare settings. For me it is a simple decision and by introducing this as a routine part of the screening programme lives could be saved and many babies could be diagnosed and treated before becoming seriously ill.

So I have created a petition, asking the Department of Health to include pulse oximetry testing as part of the newborn screening programme

Please sign my petition

Beat the Heat – week 7

Evening all. I don’t really feel raring to go this week. Been busy with nothing much. Feeling happier but battling against a desire to sleep uninterrupted for 3 days. Uninterrupted sleep for 8 hours would be wonderful – I’m not asking for much.

1.       What have you done to help you achieve your goals?

Nothing specific to report. I lost another 2lb so motivation still high (she says eating a muffin). I’ve done the edging on Jack’s quilt and got that all sandwiched up so need to get it quilted this week.

2.       What have you done to make you feel fabulous?

I had this wonderful idea for me to take the kids to pick blackberries yesterday. Sadly it turned into a long and wingey trip with few blackberries. I have a secret spot over the other side of the field at the end of our road. Like and idiot I’d forgotten about the stile and couldn’t lift the buggy over. We had to stick to the main footpath and there wasn’t much left. Anyway, getting to the point, I’d planned on making a batch of bramble jelly but the pathetic amount of fruit meant this wasn’t possible. Eloise harassed me to death and we ended up making muffins which were lovely if I do say so myself. Just praying no-one finds my secret spot before I can get down there alone.

3.       If your house was on fire, and you could grab ONE thing (outside of people and your computer/laptop, they are all out) what would it be?

Does the cat count? No way I’d leave him. I also have a box under my bed where I keep all the sentimental stuff for the children – first cut of hair, umbilical clamp, hospital bands, consent forms (!) the usual things. I think I’d go with that as its easy to grab.

4.       Tell us about your blog. Treat it like a book, what’s happened so far?

It all started a bit dark when I wasn’t a happy person, trying to get my head around Samuel’s heart but things have cheered up. I’d like more creative stuff in here as well but time just doesn’t let me. I think it reflects lots of things like my life – too much going on to have a proper direction!

5.       Fun Question:  Tell an embarrassing story about yourself. No dodging.

Firstly, I keep reading that last bit as ‘no dogging’ – not sure how that reflects on me. I would just like to clarify I have no embarassing stories regarding myself and dogging.

Really do not want to share mine. It involves me, IBS, a traffic jam on the Dartford Bridge (the day we didn’t get to EuroDisney in the snow) and one of Samuel’s nappies. You can fill in the rest as you like.

Positive picture: this was emailed to me this morning. It was timed well at the start of a slightly manic week.

Martyr Complex in the NHS

Had a difficult few days at work. Nothing major, just frustration at other people and the work they create for you. I feel people are doing a poor job and then blaming us when we question that poor job.

One staff group where I work has a bit of a martyr complex. Whenever you speak to them you are given a sob story about how awful things are for them and how they can’t possibly do what you are asking.

I’ve defended these people for a long time and been as sympathetic and helpful as I can be. Sadly, my sympathy ran out yesterday so today my fightback started. I realised that I have worked in a department that has been understaffed for 3 years. Despite this we have improved standards of care and proactively worked to make things better. At no point have we sat back, admitted that we did a poor job and then refused to take any responsibility. It’s happening on a daily basis and I’m bored of excuses. It is also a common attitude – not just limited to a few people.

The trigger yesterday was a letter from a healthcare professional within this group of staff. A family had been let down by poor care and communication and we were blamed for part of this. A quick search through our records indicated that whenever we were involved our response had been timely and appropriate. I was really angry that my team were being blamed for doing absolutely nothing wrong.  I spoke to the person concerned and pointed out that I felt this was unfair. The response was ‘oh’.

How on earth do you get a message across to a large number of people that things are just as bad for other people? I sadly think that many nurses are socialised into believing that things are bad, will never improve so you may as well give up. My biggest complaint with this is that they use this as an excuse for delivering sloppy care.

Things have moved on in the NHS. The changes that we made were taken by our team on our own initiative. We knew that we had to adapt to survive and I think we did a really good job at it. Our latest satisfaction survey had 100% positive response to overall happiness with our service.  This is despite the fact that we are staffed at 50% of the nationally recommended levels. I’m not saying that we are perfect – we take criticism and improve things.

I do not understand how they expect things to improve if they spend all their time sitting feeling sorry for themselves and taking every suggestion for improvement as an insult and a threat.