The team at CHECT would like to say a huge congratulations to all those who work on the Rb ward at Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital who are celebrating their 20th anniversary this year. Here Sister Maureen McCalla, a Retinoblastoma Nurse Specialist at the hospital, discusses the Birmingham Retinoblastoma Services 20 years:

In May 2002 we began a journey that has lasted more than 20 years with a number of the team having worked together for more than 10 years. 

We are multi-disciplinary and we have a mutual respect for each other as well as the same keen sense of learning. The learning angle was steep at times but there was always a member of the team alongside to encourage the travel. As a team we transitioned from wanting to know to being those who know and at times have led the way.  

We have moved offices many times, we’ve changed seats in the same office many times but we have always managed to work together, to be friendly to each other and to be the best support we could for each other. We had the support of other services within the hospital and some external teams have been great allies throughout the last 20 years.    

At the very beginning we agreed that ours should be a gold standard service where the patients were central and the support, care and treatment was an individualised pathway along which we would walk beside the families. We devised our own patient information literature and unique teaching aids. We pushed the boundaries of new and innovative treatments as well as becoming the leading light in genetics. 

We have treated and supported our families and now we are treating and supporting the next generation for some of these families. We’ve had to say a final goodbye to some of the children, parents and grandparents along the way. We have had generous support from our families as well as fantastic financial support for our service as well as the hospital. We have had a number of great Christmas family parties and residential weekends away for groups of children devised and led by our play specialists.    

The last 5 years as seen the most change in staff as well as an increase in the number of staff since the beginning of the service and it’s only fair to pay homage to all those who were there in the beginning and on whose shoulders the current service stands. Some of the original team have stood the test of time and are still members of the team. The service continues to be child and family focused, the challenges are there to be overcome and the new team continues to grow and learn whilst still remaining a team at all times.