A day in the life: Private Care nursing

Sarah Barwell, Senior Staff Nurse, Private Patient Medical Day Unit in Chelsea

My day starts at 8.30am and ends at either 7pm or 4.30pm depending on my shift pattern. We start with a handover meeting which involves going through the list of patients to make sure everyone is happy in the team and to ensure that the patient load is equal. The Private Patient Medical Day Unit (PPMDU) can see around 40 patients a day so we each have up to four patients to care for at one time, with the junior nurses having a smaller workload.

As The Royal Marsden doesn’t have an accident and emergency department, some private patients come to PPMDU when certain health problems arise. We triage the patient and, for instance, if they have sepsis we will give them antibiotics and refer them to the ward as an inpatient.

I oversee the more junior staff nurses with their learning which involves supporting them with certain tasks, such as giving chemotherapy treatment, accessing ports and cannulation. I ensure that the service is running smoothly and that patients are not left waiting for too long. It’s key to have good communication with both the patients and the doctors so if there is a delay we can tell them and explain why.

I joined The Royal Marsden three-and-a-half-years ago after qualifying from university in Leicester. I chose this Trust because of its world renowned reputation and I still feel lucky to work here. My career at The Royal Marsden started on Wiltshaw Ward as a staff nurse but after 18 months I joined the rotation programme. This involved six month placements in the Critical Care Unit, Markus Ward and Wilson Ward while studying for a BSc in Cancer Care at The Royal Marsden School.

I am now a Specialist Oncology Nurse – something I would not have been able to achieve so early on in my career if I had chosen to work somewhere else. The Royal Marsden is a great place for newly qualified nurses because the opportunities to develop are incredible. My aim is to be the best nurse I can so patients trust me and feel supported while undergoing treatment.

I genuinely enjoy making a difference to our patients’ lives and the gratitude patients have for their care. It’s one of the best hospitals in the world for oncology so I now plan to undertake a Masters.

I am now a Specialist Oncology Nurse – something I would not have been able to achieve so early on in my career if I had chosen to work somewhere else