Interview with Annie Ollivierre-Smith - Cath Lab Manager


Annie Ollivierre-Smith

Cath Lab Manager,
BMI The London Independent Hospital

You need to build a relationship with a patient, to be a resource and someone to call if they ever need to.

Can you tell us a little about yourself, background and current role?

I was 18 when I first started training, which was originally in Sheffield. I trained at a group of hospitals including, Hallamshire, Lodgemore, Northern General and King Edward’s.

I was always interested in cardiology, so with that, I started to look for cardiology training. I came to London Chest Hospital, where I did my training and worked in several areas, including the medical ward, ITU and coronary care. People left the cath lab and I was asked to help and manage the waiting list.

It was a steep learning curve and I got to grips with the day-to-day running of the department. I put things in place to make it more efficient and over a year, I got the waiting list down from one year to six weeks. I was awarded the Jo Smart award, which recognised the changes I made and the work I put in. I looked at areas developed around cardiology as I wanted to bring about change in the patient journey.

We see patients of all ages and backgrounds and we treat them all with respect and dignity.

I then moved to a new hospital being built in Stepney Green in November 1989 – The London Independent Hospital. I joined as a staff nurse in the imaging department, where I was shortly promoted to a Sister to manage the Cath lab. After the lab moved, again I looked at the patient journey and I streamlined it. After this, I was promoted to manager and took on the role of pre-assessing the patients, which involved ensuring their safety, preparing and informing them about procedures and answering any questions to relieve anxiety.

From August 2016, I’ve managed the whole of cardiac service, including outpatients and the cath lab. We’re the only hospital that follows the patient throughout their whole journey, from booking patients, straight through to after care.

Describe a typical day/week at BMI The London Independent Hospital for you?

It can be very variable here at the hospital. I arrive in the morning and help with the patient questionnaires. I pick up these cards and encourage the staff to hand them out and get them back in. I go around all the departments, collect the questionnaires and encourage patients to fill them in as well.

Back at my department, I check what I’ve got planned for the day and then attend the ‘Comm Cell’ at 10am. I look at the cardio area, ensure that staff are allocated to the correct areas, including the outpatient sides of things. 

At the cath lab, I make sure nurses have all the equipment they need, I liaise with the secretary for availability for the lab, including times and handle any issues.

Annie and the team

As for my team, we have a huddle to go through the safety check list and go over any general issues or concerns. 

The clinical side of things plays a huge part in my role. I believe you can’t manage a department from an office so, I get my scrubs on and go alongside the consultants, nurses and other health professionals.

It’s important to pass my knowledge and experience to the nurses, as well as advising and lending an ear. I’ve worked with some consultants here 20/30 years so I like being in the lab and being a part of the team.

What aspects of your role do you enjoy the most?

The people! By that I mean the many patients of whom I meet on a daily basis and the incredible team I have working around me. I love being in the lab and I love the clinical side. It’s important for you to impart knowledge to the staff and be there to help them.

I like being with my patients as well; I check them in, walk them to the department and also do the procedure. If there's bad news, I’m always there to chat and reassure them that we will do our upmost to help them. We also support the family, as sometimes it’s a shock to people and they ask what the next steps are. It’s just nice to reassure them.

I love being around the people and I always provide that extended care.

The patient is never left wondering what is going to happen next. We’re also there to celebrate with the patient and their family when they receive good news.

You need to build a relationship with a patient, to be a resource and someone to call if they ever need to. We always give them our number and give them advice over the phone when necessary.

There are some patients I’ve known for 25 years -  I’ve looked after dads, sons, daughters and wives. It’s like a community. I love being around the people and I always provide that extended care, not only when patients are here, but after as well.

How does your role benefit the patients at BMI The London Independent Hospital?

For me, my experience and knowledge of having worked with cardiac patients and seeing the changes in cardiology, gives me the confidence to talk to my team and patients and ultimately benefits them.

I’m a resource for both my staff and my patients and will always help to develop the cardiac services at BMI The London Independent Hospital.

I’ve created a patient pathway that sees patients from the beginning to the end and ensure that they only have contact with the team that they’ve gotten to know. It truly is like a family at work and I have a longstanding team – we almost know what each other are thinking!

For patients, continuity is key – they know who to call here and to speak to. You see the milestones in some people’s lives and that relationship for me is vital.

I love cardiology so much. I wake up and look forward to going to work and the enthusiasm is always there, which keeps the team going as well.

We see patients of all ages and backgrounds and we treat them all with respect and dignity.

What has been your biggest achievement at The London Independent Hospital?

Because of the work I’ve done here at The London Independent, BMI has recognised my role as important enough to promote me through time and send me through training. As my appreciation for that I’ve given something back, making sure patients have a seamless journey.

My consultants have recognised my work and I was lucky enough to enter the Nurse of the Year in 2013.

When they announced me as the winner, I got goosebumps. It was like I’d woken up from a dream!

The following year, I was awarded Most Inspirational Woman in Healthcare in 2014. And last year I was awarded an MBE. One of my consultants wrote a letter in my recognition to the palace for my time and service in cardiology.

You come to work and do your job every day, but when you love your work, it comes naturally. It was such an honour to be recognised by the consultants. I had a chat with Prince Charles about cardiology, it was wonderful to raise the profile of London Independent Hospital.

I felt so humble and special that they took time as a collective to say I’d done a great job throughout the years. To take my children to the palace for that award was a very proud day for me. It was so lovely because I received a letter from our CEO at the time, who then personally presented it to me.

I also organise a yearly cardiac conference for GPs. We’ve organise a conference that shows we’re proud of our services and we get excellent attendance.

What activities do you enjoy outside of work?

I do a lot of knitting and crocheting to wind down from the day. I just like to sit and free my mind and get ready for the next day. I have three children and grandchildren, who I help to look after when I can, so to do a bit of baking and get my kitchen in a mess is nice sometimes!

Thanks for your time, Annie.

BMI The London Independent Hospital's cardiology service provides a wide range of procedures including, catheter ablation, angioplasty and pacemaker implantation. Find out more about the cardiology service and the other procedures they offer, here