Tell us about your career to date and why did you choose a career in nursing?
When I left school at 18, I wanted to go into nursing, which led me into this huge establishment we hold dear – the NHS. I’ve worked in the NHS for approximately 38 years which sounds like a huge amount of time! It’s been a wonderful experience and I’ve worked in a variety of places in different roles during that time.
My experience as a paediatric nurse, midwife and health visitor has afforded me the opportunity to work in a variety of care settings both in the UK and abroad. I got the opportunity early on in my career to work in Abu Dhabi, UAE for two years where I worked as paediatric staff nurse. I think this move was significant as I’d always lived in my hometown in Sheffield, England. I did my nursing and midwifery training there, so I always had support structures around me. But then when this opportunity came up, I just went and it helped me develop clinically in terms of my competence levels as a nurse.
The main stay of my clinical work when I returned to England was within primary care as a specialist community public health practitioner, practicing in several contrasting communities in the south and in the midlands. I managed to combine clinical practice with academic appointments.
Other leadership appointments have included leading Research and Development within a Primary Care Trust and Leading at NHS Midlands and East where I spearheaded regional leadership programmes.
In my former position as Head of Clinical Senate West Midlands I was the first and only BME nurse to hold this position. The senate position was a catalyst for my development as a system leader.
I am also a recipient of national personal research awards and leadership awards from the CPHVA, Florence Nightingale Foundation and Health Foundation.
How did your FNF scholarship affect your career and what project have you completed during your journey, what will be the impact of your project?
FNF Senior Leader Scholarship was instrumental in my career progression. I was allocated a senior mentor Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent CMO. Jacqueline shared her own professional and personal experience which was inspirational, she had some real nuggets of wisdom and her leadership acumen is exceptional. She was willing and able to shape my thinking and how to have presence, hold gravitas, and have confidence and the ability to act with courage.
Through Jacqueline, I met Hilary Garratt and I was able to share my aspirations of supporting nurses to develop as system leaders. Hilary was open and transparent in affording me the opportunity to develop my ideas and gave me the confidence to put my ideas into action. This has led to my leading and commissioning two system leadership programmes. One with collaboration with the Leadership Academy, where the core offer Rosalind Franklin Programme has been adapted to include three contextualised days focussing on System Leadership. Over sixty nurses have been recruited nationally to the programme and are currently paused, pending COVID 19 national guidance.
The other programme was developed in conjunction with the Florence Nightingale Foundation and is a multi-professional senior leaders (Medical Directors, Allied Health professionals and Directors of Nursing) innovative leadership programme where senior clinical leaders, from within the same Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) and/or Integrated Care System (ICS), will work together to deliver an agreed transformation project.
In summary, the Scholarship has reinforced the importance of establishing lasting networks, stepping out of your comfort zone, daring to dream big and see the bigger picture whilst influencing with integrity.
What’s your situation during the Covid-19 pandemic?
Just before COVID 19, the West and East Midlands Clinical Senate activity was paused, and I knew I would have to be deployed. I approached Hilary Garratt Deputy CNO to ascertain if there were any opportunities to assist in the fight against COVID in the national nursing team. The Regional Medical Director and my line manger were supportive in my moving to the CNO team.
My deployment to the Deputy CNO System Leadership team was unrelenting, fast paced, insightful and fostered a great sense of achievement in the fight against COVID19. My duties and responsibilities evolved and I had to work flexibly. I was faced with navigating complex environments across the health and social care sector, working with national cells and regions, to collaborate and develop professional guidance and advice for PPE in care homes and community nursing. This was all done to tight and sometimes changing timescales influenced by political drivers. I also facilitated cross sector collegial working to bring to completion and deliver the national roll out of the Delegated Insulin Administration Programme; this programme seeks to put in place a structured and safe mechanism for health and care staff, who aren’t registered nurses, to take delegated responsibility for administering insulin to people receiving care in the community
I played a key leadership role in the development of the CNO Impact of Covid-19 on BME nursing and midwifery staff action plan. The workstreams dovetail with the national NHSEI offer and were developed in response to qualitative and quantitative data around the number of BME deaths not only in the population but also professional colleagues, including nurses and midwives. The action plan has now been shared with the CNO, Deputy CNO and Regional Chief Nurses with positive feedback and implementation of some of the work areas have commenced. The next phase in this programme of work is to work strategically with NHSEI national work streams, across networks, faith groups and other stakeholders to get buy in and engagement to deliver our short- and medium-term ambitions.
During COVID, I worked in partnership with the Florence Nightingale Foundation and other internal and external stakeholders to develop a tailored offer for BME aspiring Directors of Nursing and Midwives (ADON/M). The programme supported the cohort’s exceptional leadership responsibilities, enabling continued support to guide their patients, staff and service during and after the COVID 19 crisis. The BME ADON/M leadership journey will be captured through story telling using different mediums. I also chaired CNO BME Leadership through COVID 19 working group.
Tell us about your new role at Team CNO
I am delighted to have been appointed to the role of Head of Nursing Development Programmes, responsible for supporting the Deputy CNO in the leadership and management of professional nursing development programmes. A key aspect of my role will be to work with regional chief nurses to ensure the system nurse leaders are fully equipped to provide professional leadership and development.
I aim to work with system leaders to commission and deliver nursing programmes which are credible, innovative and impactful. Credible in that they will be of a high calibre and inclusive to all; innovative with unconventional thinking and delivery; impactful where there will be a visible difference and measured outcomes.
What do you think Florence Nightingale means to nurses and midwives?
Florence Nightingale’s name is known nationally and internationally across the nursing and midwifery profession. She epitomises courage, resilience and revolution breaking down barriers not only for women but in the delivery of healthcare. Such attributes are needed today in these unprecedented times. Her legacy lives on through efforts championed through the Florence Nightingale Foundation.