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Dr Kate Granger

MBE (1981 – 2016)

Geriatrician and Cancer Patient, Yorkshire Dr Kate Granger will be remembered for starting the #hellomynameis campaign to ensure compassion stayed at the heart of patient care when she was diagnosed with an aggressive and terminal sarcoma. Kate was born in 1981 in Huddersfield, Yorkshire and her earliest ambition was to achieve her grade 8 flute before she finished secondary education. Kate once described herself as quiet, determined and compassionate and was interested in looking after older people when she was still very young. While still at school, she would help out at a local care home for older people, demonstrating her compassionate side. In 1998, Kate left home to go to Edinburgh to study medicine and graduated in 2005 with a BSc in Pharmacology and her MBChB. She returned to Yorkshire to start her clinical foundation year jobs, the first being in medicine at Dewsbury and District Hospital and to marry her fiancé Chris Pointon. Inspired by Dr Frank Phelan, a Consultant Physician in medicine for older people at Mid-Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, Kate looked up to and wanted to emulate him in her own career. She started her highest specialist training and in 2008, obtained her membership examination of the Royal College of Physicians. She once described her biggest clinical mistake as stopping resuscitation on a frail old lady because she was shown a ‘Do not Resuscitate’ form. However, the form was for another patient. While on holiday in California with her husband in 2011, Kate fell ill and was subsequently diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of sarcoma. Determined not to let the disease prevent her from achieving her goals, she decided to fight back and do as much as she could that would be useful. On the advice of Dr Phelan, who suggested that she write a diary, Kate started a blog and vowed to live-Tweet, decided to fund-raise and also returned to work. In 2013, Kate started the #hellomynameis campaign, which has to be her greatest achievement. The campaign started as a by-product of her personal experiences in hospital, when many of the staff looking after her failed to introduce themselves. This made her feel unimportant and a disease or a bed, but not a person. Consequently, she built up a social media presence via her blog and began to spread the message to remind people to introduce themselves. Within two years the campaign had been endorsed by more than 400,000 staff across 120 NHS institutions. The campaign has since become embedded in NHS culture and the message has become part of healthcare in over one hundred countries. Instead of resting and recovering, Kate travelled the country promoting the message and fundraising for her chosen local charity, Yorkshire Cancer Centre Appeal. She received the backing of the then Prime Minister David Cameron, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, celebrities, and health leaders across the UK. Kate wrote and published two books charting her battle with cancer, and all proceeds went to her charity. She realised her target of raising £250,000 before she died.

All this time, interspersed with periods of having chemotherapy, Kate continued her training and worked as a Consultant Geriatrician. In 2014, NHS England launched the annual Kate Granger Awards for Compassionate Care to recognise an individual, team or organisation that has made a significant difference to patient care. She was elected as a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in recognition of her contribution to health. In 2015, Kate received an MBE and fulfilled one of her ambitions on her ‘bucket list’ and met the Queen at a Garden Party. She received an Honorary Doctor of Science from London South Bank University. Early in 2016 she was awarded the Jane Tomlinson Award for Courage and was named overall Yorkshire Woman of Achievement at a celebratory lunch event held at the Royal Armouries in Leeds. She received a Special Achievement Award from the British Medical Journal honouring her work. Kate died peacefully surrounded by her loved ones on 23rd July 2016. * Favourite Film: Forrest Gump

According to her husband Chris, Kate’s advice to junior doctors would have been “Keep giving as good compassionate care as you can do, despite what is happening in the NHS or what is portrayed in the media. Treat patients like you would want to be treated and as though they are a member of your own family.”

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Medical Woman | Spring 2017

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