Professor Brian Dolan and his class of '81 psychiatric nursing classmates (Full caption at bottom of article). Photo: Alison Laredo

Civic reception for Castlebar man who created global health movements

A CASTLEBAR man who was voted as one of the 20 most influential people in the history of the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK has been accorded a civic reception by members of the Castlebar Municipal District, writes Tom Gillespie.

Professor Brian Dolan, OBE, originally from Riverdale Court and son of the late Billy Dolan (Holyhill) and Chrissie Dolan (nee Redmond), Spencer Street, was awarded the honour for services to nursing and emergency care.

Professor Dolan, who is visiting professor of nursing to Oxford Institute of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting and director of Health Services 360, Stratford-on-Avon, did his nursing training in St. Mary’s Hospital, Castlebar.

His passion for nursing was ignited by Willie McNamee and John McCormack, then tutors at St. Mary’s Hospital, Castlebar.

He said the foundation of his career and any subsequent success was from the nurses who inspired and encouraged him as a beginner.

Professor Dolan, who has written and or edited seven nursing books, also leads a global social movement, recently adopted in Mayo University Hospital, Castlebar, called #EndPJparalysis, to encourage patients to get up, dressed and moving while in hospital in order to reduce the risk of falls, pressure ulcers and even reducing the time spent in hospital.

In 2018 Professor Dolan was voted as one of the 20 most influential people in the history of the National Health Service.

Councillor Michael Kilcoyne, cathaoirleach, Castlebar Municipal District, welcomed the gathering at the Lough Lannagh Village and, in particular, the Dolan family, his uncle Tommy Redmond, who, at 85 years, travelled from New York, his classmates and his tutor John McCormack.

Councillor Kilcoyne said: “This civic reception is the highest honour that the Municipal District can bestow on anyone. We are very proud of your achievements and that is why members of the Municipal District decided to afford you a civic reception.”

Councillor Kilcoyne read the citation: “The cathaoirleach and members of Castlebar Municipal District are pleased to host this civic reception for Castlebar native Professor Brian Dolan in recognition of the commitment and contribution he has made to the medical profession over the course of his career.

“Having begun his psychiatric nursing career in St. Mary’s in Castlebar in 1981, Professor Dolan acquired a Masters Degree in nursing from King’s Cross College, London, and a further Masters Degree in educational research from Oxford University.

“He is also a visiting professor at the Oxford Institute of Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Research, Oxford.

“In 2018 Professor Dolan was voted as one of the 20 most influential people in the history of the National Health Service. In 2019 he was awarded an OBE for his international services to nursing and emergency care.

“The cathaoirleach and the members of Castlebar Municipal District acknowledge the contribution of Professor Dolan to the medical profession over his distinguished career.”

Professor Dolan welcomed all and in particular his family, former neighbours from Riverdale Court, classmates and his uncle Tommy.

He sad: "My class in St. Mary’s taught me kindness, how to think, how to respond in ways that are appropriate and the best qualification I have is my nursing qualification being a psychiatric nurse and that was the foundation stone for anything I have ever done.

“I slightly unintentionally created two global movements. One was about encouraging patients to get up, dressed and moving while in a hospital bed, to get out of their pyjamas, and the campaign is called EndPJparalysis and now it is spreading across New Zealand, Australia, Canada, North America, Holland, Ireland, and the UK.

“Last year we ran a global campaign across the UK for 70 days and had over 710,000 people up and dressed. What we saw in one health system was that that falls were reduced by 27%, pressure sores reduced by 67% and patients on average went home 1.7 days sooner to their loved ones.

“It is founded on the principal of valuing patients’ time as the most important currency in health care because as nurses and doctors, therapists and people who work in health care, while our time is busy and important our patients time is sacred.

“It is also about ourselves because one tomorrow morning we will wake up and be surprised that it has come around so quickly that we won’t be the ones delivering care; we will be the ones receiving care. The ambition is to have a health system that values patients time.”

Professor Dolan continued: “The other thing I created, which I am even more proud of, is a more quiet global movement called The Last 1,000 Days. It came to me one day when I was teaching a group of geriatricians and therapists when I was talking about waste in the health system.

“The biggest waste in the health system, and we know this only too well in Ireland, is waiting. Waiting isn’t passive, it is not without harm.

“The concept of the last 1,000 days formed in my head. If you are a man you can expect to live to the age of 79, for a woman to the age of 83. If you are a 76-year-old man or an 80-year-old woman what you have left is the last 1,000 days.

“When you look at any hospital anywhere what it is full of is people in their last 1,000 days. If you are over the age of 85, 48% of people over 85 will die within a year of a hospital admission and that is why valuing patients time and getting them home to their loved ones sooner is the most precious gift you can give. If we can do that then we won’t have people lying in corridors, we won’t have people in the wrong wards, waiting. We won’t have needless suffering.”

He added: “But what we end up with, I think, is what we have in health care across Ireland every day - social millionaires. There are some people poor as all they have is money. But what social millionaires do is they commit a million acts of kindness, to value people’s time, to give people their dignity, their integrity, and their honour.”


* Pictured is the class of ’81 students of psychiatric nursing: Bernie Feming, tutor John McCormack, Maureen Manning, Fiona Gillespie, Sean Conroy, Anne Scahill, Maura King, Professor Brian Dolan, Martina Sweeney and Dympna McHale at the civic reception for Professor Dolan hosted by the cathaoirleach of the Castlebar Municipal District, Councillor Michael Kilcoyne. Photo: Alison Laredo

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