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Date: 4 August 2021

Time: 01:38

Debbie Holmes

UHB histories: interview with Debbie Holmes

X-ray nurse Debbie Holmes discusses her career within Selly Oak (SOH) and Queen Elizabeth (QEH) hospitals with UHB Communications Team member Megan Evans.

Where it all began

Debbie began her nursing career at the Birmingham General Hospital in 1981, working in gastroenterology as a night nurse.

She began work at QEH on night shifts, on the general medical ward. Then, in early 1996, she saw an advertisement for a part-time X-ray nurse at SOH. She applied for this role and got the job.

In June 1996, while still working as an X-ray nurse at SOH, Debbie was asked to work a few days at the QEH. She took the job and worked part-time at both hospitals: X-ray at SOH, and neuro angio, X-ray and cardiac cath labs at QEH. “I greatly enjoyed neuro. Not many people liked it but I did!”

Career prospects within the Trust

In 1997 Debbie was offered a full-time job at QEH. In her new role she worked in X-ray theatres, renal, liver, oncology, haematology, neuroradiology and vascular. Debbie described her work as “A very hands-on job, working closely with interventional radiologists and scrubbing up for procedures. There is a great variety of work, which is what has kept me at QEH for all these years.”

Medical development and the big move

Debbie described the development of interventional radiology in the hospital as now “Being at the forefront of treating many people. More and more invasive procedures are done each and every day, and the clarity of images in X-ray have developed so much.

“We can now go anywhere inside the body by putting tubes into the main artery, making it easier to source the problem areas. We can also put a stent into an artery in the brain. In 1996 we were doing one case every two weeks; now we are dealing with two or three cases a day.”

Debbie is looking forward to moving into the new hospital as she sees the great prospects it holds: “Here at QEH we have three angiography rooms - at QEHB there will be five.

“The rooms look fantastic, even though it’s scary how big it is, I think the new Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham will help us develop our knowledge in helping more patients. We can bring our specialities with us to the new hospital, enabling us to be an even better source of patient care. We see a whole cross section of people here at QEH - people travel from all over the world to use the specialist treatment we provide and I imagine it will be even vaster at the new hospital!”

Emotional attachment to the job

Debbie revealed exactly what she gets out of her job: “A lot of the patients that come to us are very scared. We do our best to help and inform them throughout their treatment time here.

“It’s a very nice feeling to see patients after a life-threatening operation, knowing that you’ve helped them along their journey. Of course, when things go wrong it can be hard and emotional, especially in neuroradiology, but the good days outnumber the bad and that’s why I’m still here today. I come off duty feeling that I’ve helped somebody.”

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