Janet Marsden obituary

Other lives: Nurse turned professor of ophthalmology and emergency care

My wife, Janet Marsden, who has died aged 57 of cancer, was a nurse turned professor of ophthalmology and emergency care. She also had a unique specialty in the practice-focused education of healthcare professionals.

She wrote extensively about ophthalmic and emergency care and was involved in the development of the Manchester Triage System (MTS), now used in accident and emergency departments all over the world. In 2008 Janet was included in the Nursing Times’ Diamond 20, as one of the most influential nurses of the last 60 years.

The daughter of Margaret (nee Bladon) and Graham Spence, Janet was born in Manchester, where her father was a teacher. She went to Sale grammar school and then began an undergraduate degree in chemistry at Manchester University, but, realising that she preferred interaction with people, she changed track a year into the course, instead undertaking general nurse training at Manchester Royal Infirmary.

As there were no available posts in emergency nursing, she secured a post at Manchester Royal Eye hospital and undertook further education in ophthalmic nursing. Her reluctant interest in this field developed into a passion, and in less than two years she was a senior sister managing a busy accident and emergency department, where she was involved in the development of the MTS.

She undertook a part-time degree in nursing studies in 1993, followed by a master’s degree in practitioner research in 1995 at Manchester Metropolitan University. In 1996, she became a part-time lecturer/practitioner with Manchester University and the eye hospital, managing the ophthalmic nursing diploma. She was given a full-time post at Manchester Metropolitan University later that year and awarded a personal chair in learning and teaching (titled ophthalmology and emergency care) in 2009.

Janet led the university’s Centre for Effective Emergency Care (CEEC) and its master’s degree in emergency medicine. She also had an honorary chair with City University. She was a fellow of the Royal College of Nursing, the Royal Society of Medicine and the Faculty of Emergency Nursing, a senior fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and a member of the medical advisory group of the sightsaving charity Orbis. She was also a trustee for the World Sight Foundation and a member of the Ministry of Defence research ethics committee.

Between 2005 and 2009, she chaired the Ophthalmic Nursing Forum of the RCN, leading projects including a competence framework for ophthalmic nursing which she introduced into Australia.

Janet was a guide and scout leader for more than 30 years. She loved the outdoors, in particular walking long-distance trails, skiing and riding. She and I met as teenagers when we were both volunteering at a Red Cross holiday camp for disabled children in the late 1970s and we married in 1981.

She is survived by me, her parents and her brothers, David and Andrew.

Dave Marsden

The GuardianTramp

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