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Friday 21st October 2016

Farewell Caroline

1st April 2007

About one and a half million people work in the NHS. That's a lot of people. Some of them - usually doctors who become household names or nurse managers who have managed to persevere up the career ladder and into the new year honours list - gain recognition for their commitment in the service of others. But most don't and it is left for others to speak of their contribution and dedication.

Caroline Lowdell - who sadly died last month after a short battle with meningitis - was one such person. I first met Caroline in 1993 when we worked together on the London Cardiac Specialty Review, my first high profile assignment as a new freelancer on the NHS circuit. Our paths hardly crossed again until 2005 at North West London SHA when we once again found ourselves yoked together to try and determine what should happen to Mount Vernon's radiotherapy service when the new Hatfield hospital opened in the next decade (the plans for which have since been scrapped).

Caroline hadn't changed a bit. She was still incisive and committed yet with a healthy degree of cynicism that any successful manager needs to survive any length of time in the service. The NHS is, after all, a political football and Caroline was only too aware of this - recognising instantly when decisions were being made because they were rational and when they were politically expedient. Yet she maintained the patience of a saint, determined to see things through even when managers and directors above her were turning over at a faster rate than home office ministers. Sometimes the queen of lost causes, Caroline just hung in there - completely dedicated to the cause she believed in even when the politics swung against the progress she was making.

For Caroline, the last reconfiguration of SHAs and PCTs was one too many and she decided to take early retirement - and a well earned rest. Unfortunately, she was not to enjoy it for long and that is a tragedy. After decades of public service, the NHS was unable to repay its debt - and that, sadly, is the nature of disease and its unfair collusion with life.

I do not need to speak of her career, however. The ubiquitous Google can do a much better job than I. If you find your way to this blog just spare a minute more to google "Caroline Lowdell" and, as the list of results appear, reflect on a career that counted for something, even though the majority of those on whom her worked has impacted will never know.


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Article Information

Title: Farewell Caroline
Author: Chris May
Article Id: 2431
Date Added: 1st Apr 2007


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