A blog about compassion and the NHS

By Claire Munro

I’m so very sad about the death of Dr Kate Granger. We never met, but I’m one of the thousands of people whose life she changed for good, with a simple idea that was devastatingly effective.

I remember hearing her on Woman’s Hour in January 2014, talking about her experience of cancer treatment and why she’d made the choice to blog about it.

Her honesty was startling. Facing death in her early 30s, she was utterly committed to making the most of the time she had left, and making sure that her family and friends would have good memories. She had just launched her amazing #hellomynameis campaign, to encourage health professionals to introduce themselves, informed by some of her own experiences as a patient.

Having spent most of my career in and around pharma, my relationship with the industry was utterly transformed when I considered the countless research scientists, clinical development and market access teams who must have worked for years so that I could sit in a reclining chair on the 10th floor at Guy’s and have R-CHOP.

But Kate Granger was right when she recognised the difference compassion and empathy can make to patients, and her campaign inspired a generation of NHS professionals.

I will never stop thanking the kind, thoughtful nurse who showed me endless photos of her little nephews on her iPhone to distract me from the registrar drilling into the back of my pelvis for a bone marrow biopsy.

Or the nurse who carefully told me her name and role once during the walk between the waiting area and clinic room, and then introduced herself a second time when we had both sat down. She understood that patients’ minds are on lots of other things.

That morning on Woman’s Hour Kate Granger said “I hope it’s what people will remember me for; making a real tangible improvement in the health service that directly affects patient experience.” I certainly will.