Super nurse’ innovation for patient care

Denise Smith is in the frontline of a pioneering scheme to give nurses more power in looking after patients. The 52-year-old "super nurse" is seen as key to a better future for cancer health provision in Norfolk.

Denise Smith is in the frontline of a pioneering scheme to give nurses more power in looking after patients.

The 52-year-old “super nurse” is seen as key to a better future for cancer health provision in Norfolk.

She will be playing a central role in improving cancer patients' care and monitoring vital clinical practices at the James Paget University Hospital (JPH) at Gorleston.

Mrs Smith has the distinction of becoming the first consultant ear nose and throat nurse in the east of England. With 35 years of practical nursing behind her, she is an ideal choice to care for about 200 patients with head and neck cancer and advise other professionals on the best methods of clinical care.

In the past, if nurses wanted to take up a managerial role they had to give up treating patients, but by becoming a trail-blazing consultant nurse she is able to keep a firm hand on the pulse of hospital life.

She said: “I think being a consultant nurse is certainly the way forward as all I ever wanted to do is care for people and make sure they receive the best treatment possible.

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“My new role involves taking patients with head and neck cancer through their treatment from beginning to end.

“It is crucial for me to bring together all the different clinical areas that support cancer patients including dieticians, prosthetics and plastic surgery teams.”

Mrs Smith, from Hopton, has worked at the JPH since 1982 and helped develop its tracheostomy service in 1992, the first of its kind for the region.

Explaining the difficulties in caring for patients with head and neck cancer, she said: “Patients need much more specialised support of their condition. For example, people face challenges in trying to speak, communicate, swallow or breathe after surgery.”

Mrs Smith heads a care team of two nurses and a patient co-ordinator and liaises closely with doctors and specialists in making sure all her patients' treatment runs smoothly.

Dr Don Premachandra, consultant surgeon at the JPH, who works with Mrs Smith, said: “I have been keen to develop her as a consultant nurse for some time now and I am absolutely delighted with her appointment.

“We already offer an excellent service but now we can develop this further and ensure our patients receive the highest standard at the JPH.”

“Denise is a role model for all our nurses and it is very exciting that this opportunity is now open to our nursing staff.”

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