Rebecca Scourfield, a Pre-Assessment Sister at HCA Healthcare, talks about the preconceptions of the private medical sector and why they are all wrong
BY MYGWORK, IMAGES BY REBECCA SCOURFIELD
Rebecca has worked in medicine for most of her career and has always had a calling to help others. Her upbringing was part of the reason she feels she loves helping people around her to heal, which ultimately led her to a vocation in nursing. She describes having a wonderful upbringing, growing up by the sea and mountains in a small village in Wales called Prestatyn. As the youngest of seven children, she was surrounded by a lot of love and laughter. “It was such a happy childhood. Then, at 11 years old, I watched my dad die. He was the backbone of the house, and as he slipped away, the last thing he said to my mum was: look after my girls.” That incident had a significant impact on her life. “Right after that, I watched my mum have a nervous breakdown, and I really felt like I lost both of my parents.”
Those experiences propelled Rebecca into action; she worked in the British Army as a combat medic in Cyprus and threw herself into every opportunity that came her way. Her first time in an aeroplane, she jumped out of it, performing a solo skydive after just a weekend of training. “When you’ve had those experiences and been through those processes, you can really understand others around you. You also want to grab life by the horns.”
The empathy that seemed to come to Rebecca naturally at such an early age eventually led her to complete her nursing degree and be dubbed Florence Nightingale by her first ward manager. “Quite simply, I’ve always wanted to help people and be in the medical sphere. I enjoy every minute of it. It’s all about the people for me.” Upon finishing her degree, Rebecca joined the graduate programme at HCA Healthcare and has been there ever since. “I’ve worked everywhere from cardiology to liver transplantations, and they’ve really encouraged me to grow. A nurse’s education never stops.”
Rebecca has been with her life partner for twenty years and they have two daughters together, having embarked on reciprocal IVF to create their family. “I met Emma through a mutual friend, and it was honestly love at first sight, even though I didn’t identify as a lesbian at the time. We met in Leicester Square, and I turned to jelly when she looked at me. We were friends first, built a lovely foundation, and then talked about starting a family.”
Rebecca and Emma went to the women’s fertility clinic in Harley Street, determined their children would be part of both of them. “It is very common now, but 13-14 years ago, reciprocal IVF was not the norm. So, I carried Emma’s eggs, and even though it was touch and go at some point, we were blessed with twins.”
Being a mum of two, a proud (unofficial) wife, and a member of the LGBTQ+ community is something that Rebecca very much shares with her patients. “HCA is like a family; I’m lucky to be here. When I initially joined, I did panic about whether I would tell patients about my wife and thought I didn’t want to present myself as someone I’m not. My manager told me just to be myself and trust that, and to have that from day dot was amazing.” Rebecca also experienced incredible support when she was pregnant and absolutely loves that who she is can really help her patients.
“I’m very proud to work as a nurse and have the absolute privilege to share my experience. Sometimes the LGBTQ+ patients that come in are anxious that they’ll be judged. My experience in the private sector is the exact opposite of that. We completely welcome everyone here with open arms. A lot of our staff are from the LGBTQ+ community, and we don’t treat anyone different at all.”
In fact, Rebecca had a patient that came in recently for an assessment pre-surgery where she counsels them about the next steps. “A lovely guy came in with blue nail varnish on, I saw him come in, and he sat on his hands to hide them. He also appeared anxious when I asked for his next of kin. I told him I had a wife of 20 years, and his whole demeanour changed in front of my eyes. He relaxed and told me about his husband once I used the word wife or partner. Using this language can really make a difference.” While it has never been an issue for Rebecca at work at all, she has seen there is a different perception of private hospitals.
“Being a nurse is all I’ve ever wanted to be. Even with aggressive patients, they only act this way because they are scared, and you need to start listening. Once you start listening, you can understand people. We all need to be in the right mental space, and mental health is so important in the healing process.”
HCA Healthcare is prioritising mental health training, and Rebecca has recently qualified as a mental first aider to further support her colleagues. Away from her work at HCA, she is a health coach and really believes in a system of support and guidance for patients. “Nursing has changed in the last 20 years; it isn’t ‘do as I say’ anymore. Now the onus is on the patient to take responsibility and us in the medical field to help them to take ownership of their healing.”
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