Daily Archives: September 24, 2013



It’s so easy to stereotype isn’t it? And nowhere more so than in the NHS. The officious Matron (a la Hatty Jaques); the Nursing Angel; the arrogant know-it-all Consultant with no bedside manner. The old lady who is waiting to die

But look beyond the stereotype and you will see caring human beings doing amazing jobs. It’s what, in the old days, we used to call a vocation. And more than that, patients who can give as well as receive.

And so I wrote in my blog at http://www.revdavidsouthall.com about a patient (who I called Gwen to protect her identity) who taught me lots about how to face the end of a long life.


And it turns out that I was not the only one who learnt from this lady. Dr. Ana Garcia, the Stroke Consultant, spoke to me about her dealings with this lady. She writes:

“This patient and her family taught me many things… I was told in the medical school that I should study everyday to keep up to date, but it was in the years as a Foundation Doctor, SHO and Registrar, that I found that patients always teach you new things, which are not written in books. This patient was really special… her brightness, her personal beliefs, the way of approaching to death and accepting our condition of human beings… I cannot thank her enough for her time with me!

But I would like to let her family know: “I’M ONLY HUMAN BUT I’LL TRY MY BEST!”

Ana M Garcia – Stroke Consultant”

What an amazing and refreshing attitude. A willingness to learn. An ability to see the lessons that patients teach. An openness to new things. A demonstration of humanity. And a gratitude to the patient and her family for enriching her life and experience.

Lessons can be learnt from everyone; probably from everything. You’ve just got to look.

And so this lovely lady is no longer with us. But how fantastic that in her last days and hours she passed on valuable lessons from a long life to at least two of us. And there may be many more.

You never know when you are entertaining angels.