Nurse saves the life of patient who thought she was suffering from back strain

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When nurse Jayne Fairbrother saw a patient with back ache walk into her surgery earlier this year, little did she know that her training, years of experience and instinct would end up saving that persons’ life.

The patient, Mrs Jean Rice, thought she was was suffering from backache. She said: “My job is very active and I really thought it was no more than a strain. But the pain increased and by the end of my four-night shift pattern, my manager said she was worried and encouraged me to go to the doctors.

“I couldn’t get a GP’s appointment so I went along to the Minor Injuries and Illness Unit at St. Mary’s NHS Treatment Centre which is run by Care UK and that decision saved my life. I was seen quickly and my details were taken and then I saw nurse, Jayne Fairbrother.

“I had worked as a practice nurse in Germany, when my husband was stationed there, and I can say she did an exceptional job. Jayne's diagnostic skills were excellent, as I know I didn't present with the usual symptoms associated with my eventual diagnosis.

“She carried out tests and told me that I had to go to the Queen Alexandra Hospital (QA) immediately. I said I would drive but she politely but firmly told me I would be going by ambulance. As I began to realise that things were significantly more serious than I had imagined, she kept me calm and well-informed as we waited for the ambulance and when they arrived she joked with the driver that I might try taking myself!”

At QA Mrs Rice was diagnosed with pneumonia, a pleural effusion and empyema that sees areas of pus developing on the lungs. As well as badly affecting the right lung, the infection had begun to affect her liver. She said: “Jayne’s decision to send me to QA saved my life; the consultant at Southampton General Hospital told me that I was on the verge of septicaemia and I could have died.”

Mrs Rice spent 12 nights on the respiratory unit at QA and then had four nights in Southampton’s cardiothoracic unit following video assisted thoracic surgery. She is now back to full health and very grateful to the teams at all three hospitals. “I am usually a very fit and healthy person and although I had back pain, I did not feel as ill as I was. I am very grateful to Jayne for her exceptional skills and to the other teams whose dedication nursed me back to health,” she said.

Care UK’s hospital director Penny Daniels, who runs the minor injuries unit where Jayne works, said: “I am very proud of the team. The unit provides an invaluable service to Portsmouth people and helps to ease the strain on accident and emergency departments locally.

“We have an exceptional nursing team and Jayne’s skills and years of experience averted what could have been a very different outcome. I am delighted that Mrs Rice was pleased with the service provided by the three hospitals and I am glad to hear she has made a full recovery.”

Dr Jim Hogan, chief clinical officer for NHS Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “It’s always fantastic to hear reports of patients receiving the highest quality services from the NHS and plaudits for staff.

“I think this case is obviously an excellent advertisement for the walk-in services at St. Mary’s.

“We are always encouraging patients to think of options for their healthcare other than the emergency department at Queen Alexandra Hospital if they feel poorly or have a minor accident.

“Equally, if a patient attends a minor injuries unit, or contacts the NHS 111 service or a pharmacist, and the health professional feels they are not the most appropriate to deal with it, this example also shows how a case can and will be quickly scaled up to ensure the patient gets the best and most timely possible attention.”

The Minor Injuries and Illness Unit in Portsmouth treats around 45,000 people a year and is open 7.30am-10pm weekdays and 8am-10pm on weekends and bank holidays, with the last patient accepted at 9.30pm.

Many thanks to The News in Portsmouth for permission to use the photographs.

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