Happy Perioperative Nurses Week 2016

This year, to celebrate Perioperative Nurses’ Week we’re releasing the education resources from one of our popular and recent Twilight Seminars and making it available as a GIFT for download from our website. This gift comes just in time for you to prepare for Wound Awareness Week 16th – 21st October 2016. Whether you work in the medical industry, acute care, community or aged care settings, this downloadable resource will be of interest for everyone.

Wound Assessment: What lies beneath. Bibliography and useful resources

We hope you can use it to advance your knowledge and improve the outcomes of vulnerable patients.



Lady superintendent Jane Bell, OBE.

Lady superintendent Jane Bell, OBE.

As part of the celebrations, we think it’s important to acknowledge some of the amazing nurses who have paved the way for us!

This is Jane Bell – an extraordinary woman and the first Sister in Charge in the Operating Theatres of the Royal Melbourne Hospital.


Looking up to Matron Grace Wilson

Looking up to Matron Grace Wilson

And here’s Matron Grace Wilson, commemorated in a poster on Sydney’s George Street. She’s doing her rounds of the 3rd Australian General Hospital on Lemnos Island in 1915.


There are countless more extraordinary nurses who have made a contribution to perioperative nursing care.

Who do you look up to? Let us know and we’ll post a selection of responses.

Very best wishes from Sally & Menna

The journey begins

The journey begins at last. After many months of anticipation, reading, chatting, planning and farewells we are now followinFarewell from Greek Consulg the footsteps of the nursing sisters of WWI.

These photos were taken recently at the Greek Consulate in Sydney. Liz Kaydos of the Lemnos Assoc NSW is seen here with cruise organiser Clare Ashton and Dr Stavros Kirimis, the Greek Consul, and I appear in with the second pic below.

We are seen here discussing arrangements for the laying of wreaths for the Australian nurse buried in Thesalonica and for the New Zealand nurses lost at sea when the Marquette was torpedoed. Dr Kirimis told us about the additional commemorations planned by the Greek Consulate for the later in the year including the battle for Crete and evacuation of Australian troops during the Second World War. Farewell from the Greek Consul in SydneyThe third pic is from Sydney University School of Nursing, where Clare and I met Prof Donna Waters who was delighted to see us in the replica nurses’ uniforms. Bit too tight for comfort but they have incredible impact visually.Clare Ashton with Sally Sutherland-Fraser at School of Nursing History display, Sydney UniThe ANZAC nurses spent months at sea travelling via Fremantle, Colombo and the Suez Canal before the real hardships began. In the coming days, our greatest hardship will be navigating the sea of faces in crowded departure lounges and customs halls. Watch this his space for more posts and be sure to check out Clare’s Facebook page First World War ANZAC Nursing Sisters, as well as Dom Sheridan’s page Australian Great War Poetry. Bye for now, Sally.

Real ANZAC Girls

I’m heading off in search of the Real Anzac Girls, joining a 7-day cruise from Athens to Istanbul with a group of Aussies and Kiwis. Not being one for cruises, I am more than a little surprised by this, but this really is a cruise with a difference…

It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to commemorate the achievements of the Anzac nurses and to visit the WWI sites I have reReal Anzac Girlsad about in so many books, not least of which is Anzac Girls by Peter Rees. Some of you will have seen the TV mini-series based on Peter’s book. Or perhaps you have read Menna’s post from last year ANZAC GIRLS – WARTIME SOAP? If so, then you’ll have an idea of some of the places that we’ll be visiting. Iff not, here’s a quick itinerary:

Professor Christine Hallett of Manchester University and leading authority on First World War nursing will be on board delivering lectures throughout the cruise. We intend to lay wreaths to those New Zealand nurses who perished at sea when the SS Marquette was sunk by torpedoes. On 3 September, 30 of us dressed in replica WWI dress will land at the site of the Third Australian General Hospital on the Greek island of Lemnos to commemorate the ‘bag-piped’ arrival of the ANZAC nursing sisters of 1915.

I will be squeezing myself into one of the replica nurses uniforms for this re-enactment (donated by the producers of the mini-series – the tag inside the collar tells me that I will be wearing Elsie Cook’s replica uniform!). The photograph here will give you an idea of the moment we are re-creating. We expect to have a reception on ‘Turks Head’ that will include an official welcome from the Mayor of Lemnos. From here, we make land in Turkey, and visit the main Allied landing sites – Suvla Bay, Anzac Cove and Cape Helles. The itinerary continues with our passage through the Dardenelles. On arrival at Istanbul, we’ll be visiting the Florence Nightingale Museum in the Selimiye Army Barracks.

The purpose of the cruise is to draw attention to the sick and injured of the Gallipoli campaign and those who cared for them – the real Anzac girls, on hospital ships, on Lemnos and at bases in Salonika and in Egypt. The nurses on Lemons worked in unprecedented circumstances. Posted there to deal with the wounded of the battles we now know as Lone Pine and Chanuk Bair, those actions were already underway when they arrived to find their hospital supplies were delayed. They were ‘making do’, ministering to the wounded on stretchers, kneeling on the stony ground and using their own cups to give the men fluids. Day and night, they could hear the guns booming continuously on the Peninsula. ‘I could weep hysterically now it is over’ wrote Sister McMillan of Sydney in her first letter home two weeks later. The sisters of the Australian Army Nursing Service with the Third Australian General Hospital lived and worked in tents on the shores of Mudros Harbour, Lemnos for five months in 1915.

Well, it doesn’t get much better than that. Watch this space for more posts and pics from this cruise in the coming weeks. I understand that Antonia Prebble, one of the actresses from the Anzac Girls mini series will be on the cruise so that will be a brush with fame. She played the Kiwi nurse Hilda Steel – a real Anzac girl, who trained as an anaesthetist (with some success it seems), so I’m sure there’ll be some good stories about that! Bye for now, Sally.

There are a few berths still available for the voyage. If you would like more information contact Wild Earth Travel

The cruise organisers are indebted to the producers of the TV drama ANZAC Girls for the replica uniforms; as well as the Greek Consul General in Sydney and the Lemnian Association of NSW for their support. Photo credit: SLNSW Ref No. PXE 698.

24 Hours in Emergency

One program that I try to catch each week is the fly on the wall documentary – ‘24 Hours in Emergency’, shown on SBS TV. The main reason that I enjoy it, is that it is filmed at King’s College Hospital, Camberwell, South London which was my training hospital and I love to see the panoramic shots around the local area, spotting haunts that I know so well. Not only did I train at King’s, I grew up just around the corner, so it holds a very special place for me. Plus I love hearing those South London accents belonging to the salt of the earth people who inhabit the surrounding suburbs and were once my neighbours. The program follows the patients who come through the Emergency Department doors in a 24 hour period. King’s is one of the busiest Emergency Departments in the world and has certainly undergone an amazing refurbishment in the years since I was a terrified student nurse working there – not my favourite placement!

The focus of most days is the red phone bringing news of the latest trauma victim which sees the team swing into action – teamwork at its best – everyone assigned their roles by the Team Leader working seamlessly to stabilise and treat their patients. What sets this program apart from other fly on the wall medical documentaries, is the emotional impact of the face to camera interviews with the medical and nursing team – they reveal a lot about their thoughts and feelings as they treat the patients, the responsibility that weighs heavily on their shoulders – something that in the hustle and bustle of a busy department goes unnoticed. There have been many lump in the throat moments whilst I have watched this program. The individual patients and their relatives are followed through their treatment – mostly the outcomes are good and you see the patients many weeks after they have recovered. They provide an interesting insight about what it was like being the patient or a relative coping with the shock of seeing a loved one sometimes at death’s door.

In a recent episode one of the RNs, the night supervisor, found himself admitted as a patient. A casual comment by one of the RNs that his eye looked very bloodshot and he should get himself checked out, led to a colleague taking his blood pressure – 180/110. A barrage of tests followed and revealed he had lung cancer! Surgery and ongoing treatment has seen him back at work and optimistic about the future. All that simply after a casual remark.

Amidst those requiring immediate life saving treatment are the usual collection of chair warmers with minor complaints which could have been treated by a GP. They often, unintentionally, provide the amusing entertainment element of the program!

If you haven’t seen it, it is worth a look from a professional and human interest perspective.

Cheers  Menna

ANZAC Girls – Wartime Soap?

If you prefer to listen to this on audio click here.

I wonder how many of you have been following this ABC series on a Sunday night. As part of the year long commemoration of WWI leading up to the centenary of Gallipoli landings, it was with great anticipation that we both tuned into the first episode a couple of weeks ago. Though there were some good moments looking at how the nurses coped with their first experience of the casualties arriving in huge numbers to a Cairo military hospital, overall we both came away with the feeling we’d been watching a bit of a ‘soapy’!

There was great emphasis put on romance/social side which whilst I am sure happened (and you’d need something to take your mind off the war), took away from what we both thought would be the focus of the story – how did nurses transplanted from the relative comfort of Australian hospitals cope in a tough wartime environment. In fact Sally thought she might give the rest of the series a miss, so disappointed was she at the direction the series seemed to be taking. Sally has done a great deal of reading on the nurses in wartime, particularly WWI, so was much less forgiving of the portrayal. I, on the other hand, was prepared to tune in again last Sunday and give it one more chance. The scene setting, tours around the pyramids and building of the first episode had given way to a much more gritty picture with a group of nurses being sent to the island of Lemnos (piped up the beach with bagpipes – where else would you see that!) where they had to set up a hospital virtually from scratch and receive overwhelming numbers of wounded soldiers; having to fight for the provision of water and the basics of first aid equipment. The tearing off of their petticoats to make bandages showed the nurses to be resourceful and they also showed the risks to their own health from dysentery and other tropical diseases, which actually took the life of one of their group.

Despite the war time environment, there was no escape from some of the arcane cultural mores that the English nurses brought with them – one of them snootily commenting that as the Australian nurses were only army reservists, not ‘proper’ army, they were not really entitled to wear the red cape! You would think there would be other things to think about! But interesting nonetheless to chuckle at such customs!

So let’s see where it takes us over the next few weeks……. What do you think of the series so far??

Cheers Menna