The Haemophilia team at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) provides care for children with a variety of bleeding disorders.
A significant part of the role involves community outreach and support, teaching parents and patients to undertake intravenous therapy at home.
The team work closely with the primary care teams and local paediatric services to deliver care locally to children thereby ensuring that travel to the clinic is kept to a minimum.
Jemma Efford, Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS), Band 7
Jemma has worked at GOSH for ten years. She trained at King's College London and spent a year working as a cardiac staff nurse at Guy's Hospital before joining GOSH as a staff nurse on Lion Ward.
After eight years working on the ward, Jemma took up a post as a clinical nurse specialist in the haemophilia team. Outside of work, she enjoys going to the gym and socialising.
What does your job involve?
My job involves looking after patients with bleeding disorders. We have three nurses and a nurse consultant working within our department and we work closely together to manage caseloads. We hold clinics, train and teach staff on the wards, go out on school visits to educate teachers about the condition, carry out home visits and provide advice and support to local services.
Do you think working in a specialist hospital requires different skills to working in a general hospital?
Basic nursing skills are basic nursing skills, so in one sense no. However, being a specialist centre and a world-famous hospital we see patients here that you wouldn't necessarily see at a general hospital. We treat all kinds of complex conditions so you build up the most amazing experience. We work as part of a multidisciplinary team - the staff are brilliant and it is a privilege to work with them.
How does working on the haemotology and oncology wards differ from your CNS duties?
It is completely different. I really enjoy spending one week per month on the haemotology and oncology wards because it allows me to maintain and develop my clinical skills. It is a way of keeping up to date with new advances in nursing practice, and being aware of new research when there are patients on the ward participating in clinical trials. Having the option to continue working on the ward has really benefited my personal development.
What's the best thing about nursing at GOSH?
Having so many childrens' specialists in one place is very special. Without doubt it benefits the patients to have so many experts from across different clinical specialities on hand if needed. Within the Infection, Cancer and Immunity (ICI) Unit we are very well supported in terms of our education and training. We are encouraged to attend conferences and next year I am hoping to undertake a Masters in Nursing.
What's the biggest challenge?
I think one of the biggest challenges is sitting down with parents and giving them their child's diagnosis. The child can, by all accounts, seem perfectly healthy and hearing the words 'cancer' or 'bleeding disorder' can seem like the worst thing in the world. Thankfully, for cancers such as leukaemia, survival rates are very good.
What types of personalities does the job suit?
Given the long-term care requirements of our patients you need to be someone who is capable of building and maintaining good relationships.
The variety of work within the role means you need to be able to prioritise and be flexible. If a patient comes in at 4pm with a bleed that proves difficult to control, we need to stay with them until the situation is resolved or a bed within the hospital is available, however long that takes.
What gives you the most satisfaction?
We work with lots of children and families on a long-term basis, so building and maintaing professional relationships with them is really satisfying. I've had lots of really positive experiences, far too many to mention!
Would you encourage others to work here?
Definitely - it's a lovely hospital with a good atmosphere. It sounds like a cliché but every day is different. Working in the haemotology and oncology field is so interesting - there's always something new to learn.