The neurosurgery team are based on Koala Ward at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH). This is a 12-bed ward specialising in the surgical management of children with hydrocephalus, epilepsy, spinal cord abnormalities, central nervous system tumours and a variety of other neurosurgical conditions.
The ward has four dedicated high dependency beds and is supported by a Nurse Consultant for Neurosurgery, a Nurse Practitioner team and a Practice Educator.
Nurses are offered the opportunity to undertake specialist training in paediatric neurology and neurosurgical nursing.
Zoe, Band 5 Staff Nurse
Zoe started in 2010, after completing children's nursing training at the Trust.
What attracted you to working at GOSH?
I'd considered a career in nursing after leaving school. When I found out about children's nursing training at GOSH, I jumped at the chance.
Why did you choose to specialise in neurosciences?
I liked the fact that we could bring a positive outcome to a child who had come to us with something serious. For instance, seeing a child who had been diagnosed with a brain tumour go home tumour-free.
I also liked the fact that nurses on the ward are presented with complex situations, so the pace can be very fast at times. There is a high dependency bay as well as the normal beds. I don't think you'd get the variety of scenarios and conditions in many other settings.
What type of patients do you treat on Koala Ward?
We look after a variety of patients who need neurosurgery. Many are children who need surgery to relieve seizures caused by epilepsy. In the case of children who have newly diagnosed brain tumours, we look after them post-operatively before they are referred to oncology.
Nearly all our patients have hydrocephalus, where there is fluid on the brain. These could be newborns who have suffered a bleed on the brain due to a traumatic birth, or children with a congenital condition.
Describe a typical day.
I'll be allocated a number of patients each morning. One or two of them may be having surgery that day, so I will ensure that everything is ready for them to go to theatre. I will liaise with other health professionals involved in the patient's care, such as occupational therapists or physiotherapists.
I'll give the children their medications and ensure that their hygiene needs are met. After surgery, a child will need an even greater level of care, so I’ll be doing a lot of intravenous medications. I'll work closely with the multidisciplinary team throughout the day, reporting back to the nurse in charge and getting feedback from the doctors and consultants as to what they want done for this child as their treatment progresses.
What aspect of your job do you find most rewarding?
When we can give good news to families - for example, when a biopsy shows that a tumour is treatable. I also get a lot back from the children we care for here. They are lovely - half the time you wouldn't think they were so poorly. I'm very proud to work on this unit and be part of such a committed and supportive team.
What do you consider to be the key skills and personal qualities necessary for your role?
The ability to look after a family at a difficult time. To be able to look after a child holistically, so not just giving them their medications, but looking carefully at how they are feeling as a person. Being able to work as part of a team is crucial too.