Light that Lamp

My name is Waheeda Abbas I am dually qualified as a Midwife and a Nurse.

My dad told me from when I was very young, he always wanted me to be a nurse. I initially rebelled and went into the education sector. However, after our third child my husband unfortunately developed cancer. He thankfully overcame it, but it was this event that made me recall my dad saying that it was my moral duty to light that lamp like Florence.

Fulfilling my dad’s wishes, between 1996 and 2006 I trained up through various universities and gained my Bachelor’s degree and Masters of Science. I got through the Royal College of Nursing and eventually qualified as a staff nurse and midwife.

My current role is as a specialist midwife in Haemoglobinopathies and a counsellor. I have been in this role for over 4 years.

Haemoglobinopathies are a group of recessively inherited genetic conditions affecting the haemoglobin component of blood. They are caused by a genetic change (mutation) in the haemoglobin.

In maternity terms, if both parents carry a significant haemoglobinopathy the baby is at risk of inheriting a haemoglobin disorder and that is where I step into assist.

There is a:

  • 1 in 4 (25%) chance of being completely unaffected
  • 2 in 4 (50%) chance of being a carrier
  • 1 in 4 (25%) chance of inheriting the condition

Although I’m under pressure at work to always deliver (no pun intended!), I am always smiling, and this subsequently gets picked up by the staff and patients and spreads like wildfire.

I have been recognised when out and about by people who I have helped with their pregnancy. They thank me which always makes me quite emotional. There was a man in A+E, who needed CPR and 6 months later they reached out to thank me for saving their lives. It’s all about making the difference.


The FNF Windrush Leadership Programme

I completed the Florence Nightingale Windrush 70 Leadership programme in 2019.

The experiences that I gained from it are immense and life changing.  One of the highlights of the programme was networking with people all around the country. This gave me an outlook on other’s experiences within their workplace, and how they addressed the challenges they faced. This broadened my knowledge on diverse ways of challenging problems in the workplace.

The programme increased my self-presence and made me reflect on who I am, and the changes I wanted to make, and to achieve my own personal development and outlook. This changed my personality a great deal.

The programme gave me the confidence to speak out authoritatively and ask questions and challenge other professionals. In hindsight, I feel this was one thing that I struggled with as not having a voice, but the programme gave me greater confidence so that I could influence clinical practice. This also gave me a better understanding on the type of leadership style I would use as a midwifery leader.

The quality improvement project gave me an opportunity to improve services and outcomes for the women and families who access our services within the antenatal screening programme.  This meant that as specialist midwife, adapting ways of approaching patients who failed to attend appointments, having a failsafe process in place. This would improve the uptake of services and meet key performance indicators.

When all the alumni met for the first time, we all created our own Windrush 70 years on WhatsApp group. We have all maintained contact and support each other within this group and update the group on our career developments and opportunities for others.

Receiving positive feedback from service users and positive feedback from my teams puts a smile on my face, as I feel that I have made a difference to the population we serve and having good working relationships with the Multi-Disciplinary-Team.

Finally, I would like to thank the sponsors for the opportunity I was given, as it has changed my life.

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