Kate Granger by @kendonaldson

Last week on dghealth Kate Granger told the story behind her #hellomynameis campaign and on Tuesday 23rd June NHS D&G were delighted to welcome her to the Easterbrook Hall where she spoke to over 150 healthcare professionals.

Kate Granger and audience crop comp

Kate, and her husband Chris Pointon, had embarked on a two week whirlwind tour of 15 healthcare organisations around the UK to promote their campaign. We are really privileged as Dumfries was their only stop in Scotland and early on in her presentation Kate explained why. As part of her clinical attachments at medical school in Edinburgh she spent four weeks in Dumfries working with Dr Ian Hay in Elderly Care medicine. She had such a good time, and was so inspired by Ian, that she chose to specialise in Elderly Care and is now a Consultant in Yorkshire.

Kate Grnager TalkingIt is difficult to find the words to describe how humbling it was to hear Kate tell her story. She is very matter of fact about her diagnosis of terminal cancer, her journey through chemotherapy and the complications that ensued…and her prognosis. The power of a clinician seeing care “from the other side” cannot be underestimated.


On one occasion, after a change of ureteric stents, Kate became unwell with a fever and had to be admitted to hospital. A nurse took her history in the emergency department, as did a young doctor and another nurse administered antibiotics. She is unable to tell us their names as they never told her. In fact the nurse who gave the antibiotics didn’t even check her name band or allergy status before plugging her into a drip and starting them running – all the time talking to another colleague.

Kate Granger and students comp ii

However she did remember Brian’s name. Brian was the porter who took her from the ED to the ward. He introduced himself, asked her how she was, recognised she was in pain and ensured that he pushed her bed slowly over all the bumps as to minimise her discomfort. In short he was kind. He cared. Unfortunately there were other examples of poor introductions and she found herself ‘Emotionally Reflecting’ (or as Chris pointed out ‘Whinging’) about this and decided to do something – hence #hellomynameis.

This is about more than just an introduction. It’s about effective, skilled and compassionate communication. It’s about the little things, a smile, a hand on hers, the offer of a drink. It’s about true person centred care and seeing every patient as an individual, a person. ’See me’ as Kate puts it. If when you enter a patients room you lower yourself to their level and introduce yourself with a smile then your conversation will follow a different tack than if you stand towering over them eulogising to the entourage of nameless followers at the end of the bed.

Hazel Borland Kate Granger Jeff Ace and Chris Pointon crop ii

Kate is now an MBE. She has met numerous politicians (all rather keen to jump on the bandwagon!!) and celebrities and the #hellomynameis brand is now truly global. Hospitals in many countries including the USA, Australia, Italy and Sierra Leone have embraced it. The latter example is extremely powerful as, during the Ebola outbreak when clinicians were forced to be completely sealed in protective clothing, #hellomynameis stickers could be put on the visors of helmets so that patients would know the name of the doctor or nurse caring for them.

Kate’s talk was inspirational. The courage she and her husband demonstrate in touring the country telling her story time and time again is breathtaking. I know I can speak on behalf of everyone who made it to the Easterbrook by saying how proud we all were to have met Kate and Chris. While Hazel Borland and I waited for her to arrive we both confessed to some nerves at meeting this celebrity. We told Kate this and she responded “but I’m not a celebrity, I’m just a normal Yorkshire lass” and this was what came over throughout her visit. Despite everything she has been through, and all she has achieved, she remains grounded, normal and human.

Kate’s talk was recorded on video and will be available for all to watch soon.

Kate Granger and Ken


7 thoughts on “Kate Granger by @kendonaldson

  1. Ken, thanks for the blog and for arranging for Kate to visit, I am so sorry I missed it because it sounds like it was a great event

  2. I wish I had been able to go to the event but I didn’t think it was intended for non-clinical staff. She sounds like a very inspiring lady.

  3. I was really interested to hear of this campaign. My mother is a retired nurse and her Aunt was previously Director of Nursing in a Trust in England in that Trust’s heyday. This lesson was one of the first drummed into my mother on starting her training and it is sad to hear that such principles have dwindled to the point that such a campaign is needed. Sadly even then, my mother was frustrated with some of the attitudes falling by the wayside in younger cadets coming after her. As a young Nursing Sister she recalled ordering a Staff Nurse to simply please give a patient a bedpan. The reply was “I have 4 o’levels and you want me to give him a bedpan…?” Her response was “I have 8 o’levels, either you give it to him or I will!” She later went on to take that nurse (and many others after her) aside to remind them that “giving a bedpan, holding someone on a commode, even having to wash them in bed may seem menial, may seem beneath you but it’s the core of what we do. Firstly, it is immensely embarrasing and difficult for people to pass urine, faeces or flatus with a stranger standing there with them and we have a duty to make this as easy for them as possible because they would certainly not be choosing to be in that position. Secondly, often we need to know these minor details, that urine’s been passed, that they have discomfort someone or are in pain because it is of medical significance, but often they will not tell us and we need to have such focus on them that they will be more likely to report these, or that we notice these changes ourselves.”
    Campaigns like these are wonderful in helping people reflect, not just on good practice, but essential care, but they often push on already open doors. People who see the value in introducing themselves and the important of establishing rapport with patients will do this naturally; usually the ones who need to learn this lesson the most are those who don’t attend the seminar…!

  4. I’m struck with Kate’s story about Brian the porter and his kindness to her. I worked on a medical ward as an ‘orderly’ in a summer job during medical school and also found myself trying to meet patients’ wishes as well as needs and generally go an extra distance to help. Once I was a doctor working in the wards and theatres though, the volume of work was so great that perhaps I couldn’t always go that extra mile to help. Good introductions and a friendly smile don’t seem to take much time, but we also shouldn’t overlook that a little time and space in a busy day may be important to enable staff to show all the kindness that patients would wish and deserve.

  5. meeting kate and listening to her was so inspiring. It has really made me change my practice. I hope people realise this is not just about a badge. it is so much more than that. Thanks to everyone involved for organising and to kate and chris for their dedication.

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