My day started very early! A taxi took me to the station at 05.50am and I was on the 06.26 train to London, finally my exciting day had arrived. I arrived in London at around 09.30 and took the tube to Westminster. When I arrived, I walked over Westminster Bridge and immediately saw St Thomas hospital, which sits on the river Thames. I found my way around the hospital, and could not believe it. The hospital was so grand and modern, it even had a Marks and Spencer’s and a hairdressers!!
I made my way to the meeting room and found around 100 other student nurses and midwives from around the UK and Ireland; I felt very privileged to be there. The day started with a question and answer panel session with some of the leading figures in nursing and midwifery today. There was no topic and a free discussion (and heated debated!) ensued. The questions were thought provoking and the answers were honest and really helped me to think of my role as a soon to be midwife, and as a wider part of the NHS. The details of the discussion are confidential, however the main thing that I have taken away, is a realisation that “we are all the NHS”. It helped me to view my role as a student midwife as an important one, and also that everyone has a role to play in achieving the common goal of helping others. It highlighted to me that the NHS could possibly be the largest example of multi-disciplinary team working in the world…wow!!
After the discussion and a spot of lunch, we met with some retired nurses who were trained at the Nurse training school that Florence Nightingale set up. They were inspiring and very enthusiastic about nursing and midwifery. They took us on a tour of the hospital and around the Florence Nightingale museum which was amazing. I saw Florence’s famous lamp!
Then it was time to change into uniform and walk over to Westminster Abbey. At the abbey, I managed to get a front row seat! I was in a very privileged position to see lots of important figures. Some stand out attendees were Princess Alexandra, Robert Francis (Francis Report) and Jane Cummings (Chief Nurse for England). I felt a little emotional during the service, as many others did, to see around 2000 nurses and midwives in uniform celebrating our wonderful profession. The service was lovely and it was great to have some quiet reflective time in the small nurse’s chapel in the Abbey to reflect on my midwifery training. However, after the service there was no time to hang around, I had a train to catch! I made it back to Kings Cross on time and caught the train home. The journey home was very relaxing, and I would like to again that every midwifery lecturer who provided me with the means to travel first class home. A big comfy chair and a hot meal was exactly what I needed after my long and amazing day.
I would like to express my thanks again to the staff who nominated me to attend. It was an enormous honour to represent midwives and nurses from our area at this prestigious event.