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Get ready to celebrate Norfolk and Waveney’s amazing and inspirational frontline healthcare workers

Norfolk and Waveney’s frontline healthcare workers are being celebrated as we recognise their extraordinary work and dedication during the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.

The World Health Organisation declared 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and Midwife in recognition of the 200th birthday of Florence Nightingale. However, the celebrations were largely put on hold as the COVID-19 pandemic led to increased pressure on our health and social care services like never before.

Our nurses and midwives have been at the fore of the response to the pandemic, leading innovation and quality of treatment and care.  Leadership, professionalism and clinical expertise has seen them continue to work and live, doing what was needed to support patients and colleagues, and well as their own friends and family in these incredibly challenging times.

This year, International Day of the Midwife takes place on Wednesday, 5 May and Wednesday, 12 May is International Nurses’ Day, marking the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth and celebrating the achievements of the nursing profession.

On 12 May nursing and midwifery colleagues from across Norfolk and Waveney will be taking part in day of virtual celebration, refection and focus on wellbeing 14 months after the declaration of the pandemic. Guest speakers and international contributions will reflect back on the last year and recognise their vital role.

Anna Morgan MBE has been a nurse for over 30 years and is Director of Workforce for the Norfolk and Waveney Health and Care Partnership.  She said: “International Day of the Midwife and International Nurses’ Day are a fantastic opportunity to recognise the incredible efforts of our local workforce, many of whom have gone above and beyond to care for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their bravery, compassion and commitment in the face of such an unprecedented global health challenge has been incredible. We thank each and every one of them.”

Prof Nancy Fontaine, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Chief Nurse, said: “The Norfolk and Waveney celebration of International Nurses’ Day and the International Day of the Midwife is a fantastic opportunity to reflect on the instrumental work our nursing and midwifery community have achieved over the last year in response to extremely challenging circumstances. Nurses and midwives have led their teams inspirationally and with determination ensuring that colleagues and teams were as safe as possible and patients received the best possible care during unprecedented times.

“Nurses and midwives have acted above and beyond throughout the first and second waves of the pandemic by providing enhanced and critical care to thousands of patients with COVID-19. Nurses and midwives answered the call to arms and joined critical care colleagues in our surge centre and have been involved in the NHS’ biggest ever vaccination programme.

“I am very proud to lead a hugely dedicated, versatile and highly professional group of amazing nurses and midwives, who have shown tremendous resilience, motivation and grit.  I want to thank each and every one of them and their families for their support. We look forward to this virtual day of celebration, reflection and focus on wellbeing to support recuperation.”

Diane Hull, Chief Nurse at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) said: “I’m proud to say that this year I’ll be celebrating 37 years of being a qualified nurse, after starting my nursing career as a nursing assistant. I’ve seen the breadth and width of the NHS throughout my career and continue to be amazed and humbled by the amazing nurses I have the privilege of working alongside.

“The global COVID-19 pandemic has shown the world the important role that nurses play in keeping people healthy.  I would encourage anyone thinking about becoming a nurse to go for it – it’s an incredibly rewarding career.”

Carolyn Fowler, Executive Director of Nursing and Quality at Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust, said: “I’m enormously grateful for the contribution of our community nurses throughout the pandemic. Often the unseen glue that holds health and care delivery together, our teams working across the communities of Norfolk have risen to the challenges of increased workloads; difficult and ever changing conditions; and redeployment, finding innovative solutions to ensure outstanding care was given during this unprecedented time. It makes me incredibly proud.”

James Paget University Hospital’s Director of Nursing Paul Morris said: “International Nurses’ Day has a particular resonance this year, as we celebrate the work of our brilliant nursing and midwifery teams who have been responsible for providing care and saving lives in the most challenging of circumstances.

“These teams have shown their dedication, innovation and resilience during the pandemic while doing what they do best: providing compassionate care, 24/7.”

Amanda Price-Davey, has been a midwife for over 25 years and is Head of Midwifery at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King’s Lynn. She said: ‘It is an exciting time for the midwifery profession as we enter the end of the national 5-year transformation programme. There have been some real challenges to staff over the past year during the pandemic.


“Nurses and midwives across the system have risen positively to these challenges, demonstrating real pride in their work and the care they deliver. We are still pushing forward with our plans to transform maternity services; making them safer, kinder and more compassionate and ensuring that hospitals within Norfolk and Waveney are among the best places to work in the country for our staff.”

Cath Byford, Chief Nurse at NHS Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “All around the world and right here in Norfolk and Waveney, our nurses and midwives are working tirelessly to provide the care and attention people need, whenever and wherever they need it.

“I am delighted with the leadership, commitment and dedication of our nurses and midwives across the Norfolk and Waveney heath and care system and I would like to encourage people to consider a career in nursing and midwifery. There are so many different roles and it is an amazing career choice.”

Nursing has changed dramatically since Florence Nightingale founded the first nursing school in London – nurses are not only on hospital wards, they are out in the community, care homes, academia, running hospitals and developing policy.

The modern nursing challenge is to deliver consistent and improving high-quality care and they are essential to meet the challenge of improving care, reducing inequalities, and using health and care resources wisely.

Nurses in the NHS work on the frontline of healthcare, making a difference to the lives of patients each and every day. They study for three years at university, with additional expert training on the job, to equip them with the technical, professional and emotional skills to deliver expert care to their patients.

Nursing is an incredible career that can offer fantastic and endless opportunities. Many people do not realise the huge range of intellectually challenging work that is undertaken as a nurse, including performance of some medical procedures, clinical research and education and treatment plans for patients.

Nurses have the opportunity to specialise in a broad range of roles across all areas of the NHS – as well as varied hospital roles, nurses can also work in learning disabilities, mental health and community care.

Search nursing careers for more information or visit https://www.healthcareers.nhs.uk/nursing-careers

Midwives work at the heart of the community as the primary co-ordinator of care for all pregnant, labouring and postnatal women. Midwives provide support, guidance and care for mother, baby and family.

Being a midwife is a demanding and unique role. Midwives are responsible for creating and sustaining a positive relationship with the pregnant woman, to help her to have the best possible birth experience.  Many midwives carry their own caseload and work in community settings, while others are based in hospitals. There are lots of opportunities to add to general midwifery skills by specialising in a particular area such as public health or overseeing teenage pregnancy clinics.

Search midwifery careers for more information or visit https://www.healthcareers.nhs.uk/explore-roles/midwifery

Left to right Donna Loose Kate Barlow Kate Smalley Sian Taylor 1

 

Below are their case studies :

 

Name: Kate Barlow

Title: Senior Manager, Integrated Emergency Care, NHS Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group

Kate Barlow was redeployed to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) to provide clinical support during the COVID-19 pandemic. Kate started her nursing career nearly 40 years ago, and after initially working on an orthopaedic ward, spent much of her career in Theatres, including serving in the first Gulf war. She spent over 20 years working at the NNUH and in her last role there, Kate was Operational Manager for the Inpatient Theatres. After leaving the NNUH in 2006, Kate became Head of Clinical Services at the BUPA Hospital (now Spire) in Norwich and subsequently moved into commissioning roles, including Clinical Quality and Patient Safety monitoring and latterly, Senior Manager for Integrated Emergency Care.

Following Critical Care refresher training last April, Kate spent two months working in the Intensive Therapy Unit (ITU) to support the clinical teams caring for patients during the second wave.

She said: “It has been an honour and a privilege to have been able to become part of the hospital’s ITU team and to make a small difference to patients, their families, and staff, who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic. This would not have been possible without the refresher training which was managed so well last year, and the ongoing support provided to me throughout my redeployment”.

“To have brought together staff from the hospital’s ITU team, from other departments within the NNUH, from the ITU’s at the James Paget and Queen Elizabeth hospitals and the military and create a cohesive, efficient and effective workforce in such a short space of time was extraordinary. Everyone came together and worked as a team, providing support to each other, to teach, learn and help make a difference during such difficult times. Many made sacrifices in terms of living away from home, travelling long distances, working different shift patterns and putting themselves out of their comfort zones. It was also lovely to be welcomed by, and to work with, so many people who I had worked with previously - in Theatres and across the hospital. I was made to feel so welcome, and the gratitude from everyone has been quite overwhelming.

“The two months in ITU have been so many things: emotional, tiring, uplifting, thought provoking, sad and heart-warming, all mixed in with the most amazing moments. These include:

  • the first time a patient actually managed to speak to their family on a video call after two months in ITU;
  • the expressions on the faces of the patients when they had their first cup of tea or taste of food in two months;
  • the gratitude expressed when you have had time to give someone a hair wash or a really good shave;
  • and the family who notice (via video call) the hair wash/shave and say how much better their relative looks as a result;
  • the joy and relief when a patient with a tracheostomy can finally voice their wishes with a speaking valve, after lip reading attempts sadly failed, and
  • the gratitude voiced from relatives, even when the outlook for their loved one was bleak”.

“I would like to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone who helped me to “find my feet” as a frontline, hands-on nurse again, and enabled me to realise that I could be much more than “a pair of hands”. The team were amazing – providing support and guidance, with patience and compassion shown by everyone. The team spirit shone through, despite being in such difficult circumstances. I will look back over those two months with a sense of pride, achievement and deep contemplation.”

Name: Donna Loose

Title: Nurse manager, family planning and sexual health lead, Birchwood Surgery, North Walsham. NHS Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) General Practice Nurse Development Lead

I wanted to become a nurse because I have always felt a caring nature in my life and I wanted to make a difference to other people’s lives. I left district nursing as a palliative care lead due to family commitments and general practice nursing appealed to me, the hours worked well and I enjoy working within a community general practice setting seeing all ages. I am a women’s health nurse so I support women from puberty to post menopause and all the stages in between. As a nurse manager there is also the element of team development and workforce management.

Donna’s reflections on the last 14 months

As with all health care providers, general practice started its biggest journey of change that I have encountered in my career during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In pre-COVID times we would have had training to learn new consultation skills and technology to support the delivery of care to patients, however the speed of events meant that we had to adapt and transform the way we work almost overnight.

Our teams adjusted clinical skills used for direct patient contact to offer and adapt to remote consultations. Our skills of actively listening, diagnosing and managing conditions were tested to their optimum.

Alongside this new way of working face to face care continued for essential services, while we faced uncertainty about the virus and its implications for our safety and wellbeing and guidance changed daily.

Clinicians rose to the challenge of delivering patient-centred care in supporting the cohorts of vulnerable patients that span the age range we serve.

Our workforce showed true resilience in these challenging and what felt like forever changing times, showing true flexibility, resilience and flexibility to the needs of our patients. For our communities what did this mean? It meant they still had access to high quality care from clinicians they knew and felt confident in.

A friendly reassuring compassionate clinician might have been their only contact in the course of a day or a week, the conversations alongside their medical need spanned from a supportive ear to listening to their fears and concerns, supporting both physical and mental health.

Throughout the pandemic, the privilege of being part of the community as a health provider, to offer patients more than clinical support but act as their support network, is something I shall reflect on for many years and be grateful to have nursed in this unprecedented time in history for health care.

The role of general practice and all staff working within them have a direct impact on the outcome of that patient’s health and wellbeing.

We have responded to patients’ feelings of isolation, their grief for lost ones and separation from family members in care homes. Support networks for post-natal care reduced and we became a point of contact.

When asked will we go back to normal whatever normal may be, I and many others have reflected on this. While many positive changes have occurred in how we deliver care, I am keen to continue to provide that personal empathetic touch.

A flu clinic highlighted this experience with a patient attending and breaking down as she spoke of her recent bereavement of her husband.  The ability to be in that room with her and share that grief, be that listening ear and her parting words ‘thank you nurse for being there and listening’ drove home the core value of why I nurse and encourage others to enter the profession.

General practice offers communities both mental and health wellbeing, a form of human contact, a support network in a familiar environment, a point of contact as a building that houses familiar faces where trust, confidence and reassurance that we will get through this pandemic and receive care remains. GP practices will for many have been the ‘supportive normal’ in this pandemic and recognised as health heroes.

Name: Sian Taylor  

Title: Registered Nurse, Critical Care Complex, NNUH

What led you to apply for nursing, and what do you love about the profession? My passion for nursing comes from that of a personal nature, as my father lost a short battle to cancer, and died the most dignified and peaceful death, at a wonderful hospice in Lincoln. The compassionate end of life care that he was offered, and the psychological support that myself and my family were offered, prompted me to pursue a career where I could give back what was offered to my family. I love that nursing has not only given me the chance to care for patients and their relatives, but has provided me with the opportunity to be a listener, an advocate, an educator, and a mentor. Nursing has enabled me to develop my academic skills by undertaking a Master of Science degree, which has subsequently led to a successful appointment of Peer Reviewer for an international palliative care journal.

What have you learnt most about yourself as a nurse, and your profession, over the course of the pandemic?  I have learnt that I am more resilient, strong, and determined than I ever believed I could be. I have witnessed more love, moral-support, and camaraderie within our department in the last year; than I have ever seen, in any department, ever before. The caring, compassionate, and empathetic nature of Nurses has become significantly more apparent during the pandemic and, I believe, I am part of a very special profession.

What is your message to people looking to start a career in nursing? In my honest opinion, nursing is not something that you can just do. The skills required to be a nurse, such as care, compassion, empathy, organisation, emotional intelligence, being adaptable to change, using initiative, and effective communication skills (oh, and a sense of humour, of course!), are things that a person may possess, but would need to develop an understanding of how to use these appropriately when caring for a patient, and their relatives, and working as part of a multidisciplinary team. Although I believe that nursing is the most rewarding and wonderful career a person could do, it can be physically and emotionally demanding. My advice would be to gain some experience in a hospital, or other healthcare setting, as a Healthcare Assistant (or similar), to understand the role, demands and challenges of a nurse.

What do you love about working at the NNUH? I completed my adult nurse training at the NNUH from 2013-2016 and during this time, and thereafter, it has provided me with great opportunities for education and career progression. I am very grateful for the endless support from the senior nursing team in the Critical Care Complex, who have supported me through personal health concerns, through a period of maternity leave, and through lots of ‘I can’t do this’ moments since making the transition into Critical Care from oncology.  

Name: Kate Smalley

Kate Smalley qualified as a nurse in January this year, at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 26-year-old from Norwich, who studied at the University of East Anglia, works on the Acute Medical Units (AMU) at NNUH.

“I qualified at the beginning of the year and when I applied for my PIN (personal identification number) I was then registered within an hour. It usually takes months. I was assigned to the AMU team at the NNUH and they were so supportive; I could not ask for a better first post. The general morale of all members of staff is high despite the hospital pressures.”

During her first two months of being qualified in the peak of the pandemic, Kate was moved to support on the Critical Care Complex, helping to care for the most poorly patients with coronavirus. Prior to qualifying, Kate worked for eight years as a Healthcare Assistant, doing bank shifts at JPUH and NNUH in between placement shifts. She also worked for the operations team at NNUH doing COVID-19 swabbing for patients ready for discharge. In her final year as a student, Kate took the opportunity to complete her remaining placement hours needed for qualification by joining the paid placement scheme, which was an emergency COVID-19 measure bringing in nurses who had completed their training apart from final practical experience. This was supported by the Nursing and Midwifery Council, to ease the strain on the NHS.

“I was halfway through a placement when the pandemic started last year and placements were halted. There were concerns around getting our hours completed and gaining the skills required to become a nurse so e-learning was brought in. It was quite difficult for me to engage with it, but we’ve all had to adapt in order to complete our degree.”

“I work on all of the AMUs as I want to get as much experience as possible. It was challenging and eye opening working in critical care, but I take great pride in the fact I’ve assisted in supporting patients during this time. I’ve learnt so much more about the role of nursing, as well as about myself. I have always been interested in critical care and will explore opportunities in the future once I have a few years of general nursing experience.”

Name: Clare Allen 

Job Title: Practice Nurse

My name is Clare Allen, I am the lead practice nurse at The Park Surgery. A little background about me, my mum was a nurse and my dad was a policeman in the Met, and I always wanted a career in nursing or medicine. I live with my husband and two daughters. 

I love the variety that practice nursing brings. 

I’ve worked in two other surgeries where I did courses for family planning and smear taking as well as other courses to support patients. I am also a Non-Medical prescriber and a contraceptive implant fitter. 

We have mixed clinics where anything can be booked in to enable patients to access what they need when they need it rather than only being able to come at a certain time or day for specific things. I have found this approach supportive towards patients.

I like being able to put people at ease, support them with their long-term conditions and enable them to improve their lifestyles and provide a positive experience. 

General Practice nursing during a pandemic has been really different and has come with its own challenges such as extra PPE and balancing keeping everyone safe whilst still providing a high level of care. I have also been a part of the Covid vaccination programme, and along with the rest of the team, adapted and worked extra hours to ensure the programme is a success for our entire locality. We have worked closer with our PCN practices than ever before and support each other to reach this common goal. The Pandemic has brought us closer together not only as a stand-alone surgery but also as a network. 

 

 

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