To the stars! (and beyond).

May 23, 2024 | Reflection | 0 comments

It’s safe to say that the last seven years since my NMC debacle have probably been the most challenging yet rewarding, confusing yet clarifying, infuriating yet grounding, period of my life!

In part, it’s been seven years of pretending to be ok and doing one big blag! “Smile and wave” being my motto, most people would not have known all the trauma (unless they read my poems and blogs!!).

From the early days of wanting to disappear, run away, or end things, I read my initial blog and am immediately transported to that person again. There are still triggers of self-doubt seeping through when I least expect it. Usually when I think I am doing well, in comes the boulder to knock me over again. In the early days, I had accidents and broken bones – it was the universe telling me to listen to my body. I wasn’t really listening, but equally, not fighting it anymore.

When I look back to those first few weeks in February 2017, I don’t recognise myself in many ways, my mental health hadn’t been great for a while. Like many of us drawn to a caring profession, we bring baggage from life, childhood trauma, whatever (bla bla bla), but we push it away with a joke or a sideways comment – humour used to avoid the truth. I’d lost my mum a few years earlier and didn’t realise just how big an impact that had had on me, pushing it under, a balloon ready to explode to the surface. All these influences in my life crept in, both assisting and hindering my best practice and how I interacted with those around me, leading me to good and bad choices.

Self-care versus self-sabotage

If I dig deep I can now see that the referral would likely have happened at some point. I didn’t take care and didn’t self-care. I’ve always had a bit of a self-sabotage button and never been good at listening to that inner voice. In the years before my referral I had huge roles, setting up new services, managing and developing multidisciplinary teams, bridging services between the independent sector and the NHS.

I was, and still am, a blooming good nurse! I was a good manager and mentor and I miss it. I had some good mentors along the way, who taught me lots and I followed the lessons they taught me. In latter years one in particular tried to help. She recognised my stressors and my frustrations with the direction the organisation I was working for was taking. This mentor tried to assist with some coaching. It helped a little, but again, I probably didn’t appreciate at the time why it was important. In previous roles I had always challenged poor practice and been respected for my absolute commitment to always put the patient in the centre regardless of organisational needs, as well as safeguarding my team. The patient was always central but I couldn’t do it without looking after those working for me. I refused to sacrifice people for profit. Never being one to keep my mouth shut when injustice or bias infiltrates, I couldn’t play the corporate game and it well and truly tripped me up.

Triggering support

Now as I support our nearly 600 members and see them in the first stages of grief at their referral, it triggers me to return to my own feelings at the time. Now I can sit next to that person, see “that was me”, but think about what I needed at the time and how I can pass my support on. When you are in the heat of it all you can’t hear, see or think. You enter fight or flight mode and even when fighting you feel you have one hand tied behind your back. Anger is an odd emotion; you think you have it under control, recognise it, and can pop it back in its box, but you’re only really pushing a pause button, it’s still lurking and waiting. Someone said it’s like pushing a balloon under the water – at some point it will burst up to the surface, you can’t keep it down.

Many nurses will tell you they come to the profession because of their own personal trauma, the need to care for others, to fill some sort of gap, or a need for affirmation that comes from the job. We always put patients or clients and their significant others ahead of ourselves, and often our colleagues too. So when this is called into question (during an FtP referral for example) we can’t understand it, we are confused, we are indignant, we are aghast.

The NMCWatch group was set up as a continuation of this, and my need to support others and try to help them avoid the trauma I experienced, to not be alone and hopefully navigate FtP with a little more success than I did in the initial stages.

Some cases in the group trigger me more than others. When I hear a nurse or midwife struggle to get their side across, it’s hard not to let the anger seep back in. The frustration that comes with knowing your truth but not being able to get others to understand it can be extremely difficult.

At NMCWatch we try to translate between what the nurse is explaining and what the NMC need to know and where this fits in with a regulatory concern.

When I am faced with a barrister trying to portray a nurse as evil and forever flawed I want to scream and shout, but, instead, I pause, and now laugh to myself that it is the lawyer who is the fool – he will never learn!

Healthcare is complex and caring is often intuitive. Trying to explain our thought processes can be challenging. The lawyers can never be expected to understand that – they will never be able to grasp the intuitive nature of our profession. Separating the emotion from the facts, or perceived facts, is our biggest challenge.

I learn a lot from our members. Some I have met have been through multiple referrals and still retain such strong resilience that it is inspiring. They pick themselves up and carry on, almost seeing it as a necessary evil of their job. One said to me recently,

“I think nursing or midwifery should come with a warning. A warning that we all get told when we start our training. That your regulator is not there to support you and will damage your health”.

Isn’t it sad that we put so much into supporting our patients and yet we can not rely on the same level of support in return when we are in distress?

Shoot for the stars!

The work at NMCWatch has also enabled me to meet a wider circle of people that I would never have had contact with otherwise.



Last week I had the most amazing opportunity to go to Bratislava and be part of the Starmus Festival – one of our group members was able to arrange the opportunity – and I went really not knowing what to expect. It was the most incredible experience! From the opening night watching the great Jean Michel Jarre and Brian May from the VIP area, imposter syndrome begins!! Moving on to explore the lovely city during the day, listening to inspiring speeches and talking to astronauts (well, bumping into them in the lift and being told after “do you know who that was?!”). There were talks from very clever people who explained their science so easily to help us to understand. I was mingling with musicians from my childhood, seeing shows that blew my mind and meeting lovely new friends. The week was so unique, a real pinch-me moment, and one thing is for sure – thank you NMC, this wouldn’t have happened without you – how strange is life?!

So, to all of you at the beginning of your journeys – no matter how traumatised you feel now – it’s a moment in time, a time in space if you like. Things will pass and you will be taken to places you could never imagine, other, better things will come without doubt. How you feel now will not be how you feel in a few months, or even a few years. Going back to seven years ago I could barely get out of bed let alone imagine having a beer with a rock band, a swim with a lead singer from one of the biggest 80’s bands and drinks with an astronaut!

Life is bizarre – the universe brings challenges but also sometimes will bring you a lovely surprise – embrace it, don’t think too deep, go with the moment and enjoy it – listen to the music, enjoy the sun, talk to strangers – ignore the background noise.

We are stronger than we realise.

Share this to help others

If you know someone who will benefit from this content, please share it with them.

Sign our Government petition

We are also petitioning the UK Government for change.


If you would like to support our work please consider donating.

Sign our letter to NMC

If you want change to happen, please sign our letter to Andrea Sutcliffe, CEO of the NMC.

Related posts


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.