Trusts work together to ease suffering of spinal patients

Patients in Teesside are continuing to benefit from partnership working as a spinal service shared by two local NHS trusts sees a local nurse deliver a procedure usually reserved for consultants.

Gill Rhind is a spinal triage and treat practitioner and one of the few nurses in the UK able to deliver a life-transforming pain-reducing spinal procedure.

The transforaminal epidural steroid injection is a complex process where pain-killing injections are delivered to specific nerve clusters to ease pain and discomfort. Performed under x-ray conditions to ensure accurate delivery of the pain-killing medication, the complex procedure is usually performed by consultants.

Employed by South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Gill now delivers a clinic at the University Hospital of Hartlepool every Friday as part of the two trusts extensive partner working relationship.

Gill, 52, from Hartlepool, said: “I trained as a pain specialist nurse more than ten years ago, and eventually earned a master’s degree in pain management from Edinburgh University.

“I continued with more training in spinal care, leading to working in the spinal service at The James Cook University Hospital and am now part of the shared spinal team with North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.

“Bad backs are sadly part of the aging process. It’s the ‘grey hair and wrinkles’ you can’t see. The wear and tear of a bad back can’t be reversed but we can treat the pain effectively and help people live a happier and healthier life.

“It’s really nice to spend a morning a week here. I’ve had to learn some new systems and we are all very open to sharing ideas and new ways of treating our patients.”

This is far from Gill’s first encounter with the University Hospital of Hartlepool.

As well as beginning her career at the hospital in 1991, Gill’s parents also worked there during the 1980s.

Gill commented: “My dad was a consultant urologist here and my mum was a business manager. They both enjoyed working here and had lots of friends among the staff.

“When I came back after all these years, I was touched that some people recognised me from when I used to work here. This hospital has always had that ‘family feel’ to it and it made the welcome even warmer.”

After leaving the University Hospital of Hartlepool to explore other career opportunities, including developing an interest in traditional Chinese medicine, Gill then worked for NHS Gateshead, where she started volunteering with Newcastle-Gateshead Medical

Volunteers. So far Gill had made more than 20 visits to Iraq where she has used her clinical skills to aid in back surgeries for the Kurdish population.

Gill’s number one tip to maintain a healthy back is regular movement. She says: “Backs like to move! Even people with bad backs can find taking a walk can have a big benefit. It might be uncomfortable to get going at first but it’s worth the effort.”

For further information please consult your health professional or visit the South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust website.

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