I've been a nurse for nearly 50 years, many of them on the front line in the care of sick children. It's a proud, positive and much loved profession. But as I write today, children's palliative nursing is facing a crisis: the number of children with life-limiting conditions that need care and support is increasing but the number of nursing posts to provide that support is failing to keep apace.
We all remember our days at school - our teachers, our friends, the moment the bell rang for break time. As children it's where we spend most of our time, the place where we build not only our academic skills but our knowledge of life and how to live it. But for some children and young people this experience is not quite the same.
Reaching breaking point in your current role doesn't necessarily mean you have to break away from your career completely, a side step might be just the thing you need to refresh your interest in your profession whilst freeing up more time to the other things that you enjoy. Life is about balance, stretching yourself to within an inch of your sanity is not going to do the best for you...
As a former model and photographer, I have trodden the catwalk during London Fashion Week, photographed an editorial shoot for Elle magazine, and was the youngest person to exhibit in the National Portrait Gallery. In 2013, I gave all this up to become an emergency nurse. A career that couldn't be more different from the one that I started in. Polar opposite in fact...
We cannot rely on charities: this needs to be a top priority for our Government and we need to find ways of working together to address this issue. It's no good having policy in place if it is not put into practice. The system needs to be overhauled and fast, if we are to provide the care and support that all disabled children and their families deserve.
The NHS is a system we all take for granted and I cannot begin to express its worth, or the worth of its employees. However, when faced with the all challenges it has had, the NHS struggles to provide the help nurses deserve, much less adequately address and support staff with chronic health problems. Nurses struggle, and their health suffers.
The UK is shockingly behind other developed countries in terms of children's health outcomes, with five more children dying per day than in Sweden. So many health issues facing our children are preventable - yet the Government has just cut £200 million from public health spending and with it many of the resources we need to educate children about their health.
Thousands of nurses have left their homes and moved to the other side of the world, to work for the NHS in hospitals, our emergency departments and in our care homes. For the vast majority, their starting salary will be about £21,000 a year. Without them many health and social care organisations would struggle to deliver safe care. Their reward for this contribution to our health service? If they don't somehow increase their salary to £35,000 they will be forced to leave the country after six years.
After almost 50 years in nursing, it still worries me that not enough emphasis is placed on the 'Three Rs' when it comes to sexual health education in Britain. It seems that we are so keen to teach our young people the mechanics of what is safe and what isn't, that we forget there is so much more they should, and indeed must, know.