Alex Penfold on Youth Mental Health Day 2023: Insights from a Mental Health Nurse and...
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Diploma in Professional Studies in Nursing, BSc (Hons) Community Health (Practice Nursing)
Practice Nursing, including cervical cytology, diabetes, asthma & COPD management.
I qualified as a Registered Nurse in 1995. I then progressed onto doing my degree in Community Health BSc, alongside training to be a Practice Nurse. My dissertation focused on the promotion of men’s health in general practice. I started my career working as a Practice Nurse in a large and busy practice in Manchester, gaining a wide range of experience in chronic disease management, cervical cytology, health promotion and immunisation. I expanded my skills into family planning and sexual health, and was able to integrate this into my role.
In 2001 I ventured into a new challenge and trained to be a Nurse Adviser in the private sector. This is a unique role, working as nurse, outsourced to the pharmaceutical companies, to support new and existing drugs, working closely with patients. It was a varied role, working with lots of disease areas and drugs. One week it may be a new self-injecting drug for rheumatoid arthritis and the next an infusion in secondary care for multiple sclerosis, which needs support and education administering. I advanced to a senior role as a nurse adviser, where I was mentoring and supporting new nurses coming into the field.
In 2019 I returned to practice nursing alongside my role as nurse adviser. I conduct consultations with patients, taking observations, blood sampling, ECGs. My clinical skills also involve diabetes management, whereby we work closely with the GP to ensure patients are taking the correct treatments. I regularly do full diabetic assessments, including diabetic foot assessments. Respiratory condition management is another area I have responsibility for, doing regular full respiratory assessments and reviews for patients with asthma & COPD, and also conducting spirometry and interpreting the results. Chronic disease management also involves reviewing patients with cardiovascular disease, including hypertension and strokes. I am also involved in planning and organisation of the yearly influenza clinics and also the regular Covid immunisation programmes. I’m involved in travel health advice and vaccination.
I have a particular interest in co-morbidities in general practice, particularly in the elderly. I manage patient reviews of the elderly in the practice, on home visits and in nursing home visits, assessing frailty and psychological well-being.
A large part of the practice nursing role is health education, health promotion and lifestyle advice, in all the various disease areas but also with those without any existing conditions. I offer and promote the NHS health check, which is to discover early signs of heart disease, diabetes, stroke and kidney disease.
I accept instructions from both claimant and defendant solicitors and insurers. I have undergone formal training in the medico-legal process and am fully aware of my responsibilities under Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) pertaining to expert witnesses.