As part of our commemorations for the 75th anniversary of D-Day we are highlighting our dedicated military personnel, and the vital work they undertake in our Trust when they are not deployed.
Sergeant Claire Caton is the lead military nurse working on the Acute Medical Unit (AMU) at QA. Claire manages military personnel off duty, and is also their line manager for any career development aspects they may have.
In June 2008 Claire joined the RAF. After completing an Honours degree through Birmingham City University, Claire was posted to QA where she completed her preceptorship rotation working both in surgery and medicine, and eventually went on AMU. In 2014 Claire was deployed to Afghanistan, predominately as a general ward nurse, but also as an apheresis nurse. This involves taking whole blood and platelets from uninjured personnel to give to injured personnel.
Claire then returned to AMU at QA, before being posted to the Tactical Medical Wing at RAF Brize Norton. During this deployment, Claire explains: “I pretty much lived on the back on an aircraft flying all over the world, including multiple trips to the Falkland islands, the Middle East and Africa...after my tour ended I was posted back to QA where I am working back on AMU, developing myself as a Sister and helping to develop my junior colleagues.”
Claire helps to facilitate departmental training and acts as a mentor to newly qualified military and civilian personnel. As well as her day to day role, Claire is also a Flight Commander for a contingent of RAF personnel in the unit, acting as their single service lead for any queries.
Claire says: “Combined, I have worked in the hospital for six years. I firstly did four years - three of which were on the AMU - before having two years away to complete a tour on Aeromedical Evacuation, repatriating injured service personnel back to the UK from overseas tours and operations. I have currently been back for nearly two years, all of which have been spent on the AMU.”
Claire loves her role at QA, and explains: “I get to work with some amazing people. I feel respected and supported on AMU. They are like a family. Being able to help develop personnel civilian and military alike I find amazing. I know I have an amazing team working for me who would support me through any situation and I love working with. Being able to help newly qualified nurses develop into competent nurses is very rewarding.”
Claire was drawn to work within the military because of the opportunities available. Claire feels that she has been given the chance to develop within the NHS, especially within the RAF, and had the opportunity to undertake Aeromedical Evacuation.
Claire also says: “Escorting injured personnel back to the UK, some of whom can be severely injured, sold it for me. Being that person to help get personnel back to the UK and to their families is very rewarding. Troops on the ground feel empowered to continue on operations knowing that there is a robust service to get them home if something went wrong.”
Claire has been given many opportunities to complete adventurous training all over the world, and has met a number of people from all walks of life, who are dedicated to serving and protecting their country.
When it comes to D-Day, Claire says: “Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of D-Day is very important. We should never forget the brave men who sacrificed their lives defending the UK, especially on D-Day, as it was not only a horrific battle but a major turning point. I believe any anniversary of conflicts should be remembered. We would not be here as we are today if it wasn’t for those brave people who gave up everything for us. It’s a celebration, and it’s an honour to remember them.”