Star Alumni Series: Sarah Hanbridge

Sarah Hanbridge
FNF Scholar

Meet our latest Star Alumna Sarah Hanbridge, Chief Clinical Information Officer, and Nursing & Allied Health Professional/Regional Chief Nursing Information Officer, Northwest. Here, Sarah, who works at the Christie NHS Foundation Trust, tells us how she came to embark on the Florence Nightingale Foundation Digital scholarship…

Starting out

“I was in the first cohort of FNF digital scholars. Jackie Bird, who was a previous FNF scholar, was Chief Nurse at the Christie NHS Foundation Trust, and she recognised my potential and what I brought to the table. She said, ‘You need to put your hat into the ring for this – it’s a unique opportunity.’

The FNF scholarship came at the right time. I was at a crossroads. It made me think differently about my leadership style. I had become complacent and stagnant.

The scholarship was really challenging because we started at the beginning of the pandemic. We had our initial meeting, and everyone was apprehensive and unsure how a virtual FNF scholarship would work. Professors Gemma Stacey and Greta Westwood said, ‘If it has to be virtual, we won’t stop your experience.’ I thought, I won’t let it being virtual dampen it, so during the induction period I contacted Dione Rogers. I said, ‘Shall we set a digital scholar group up? I think we could really learn from each other. We could share practice.’ We set up a fortnightly session, and I made a lovely friendship with Dione. We still catch up. We made a pact that we would support one another and challenge each other to do what we needed to do during the scholarship.

Quality Improvement Project success

My QIP was around using a platform to improve digital nursing documentation at The Christie. It was successful and as a result, we could still work virtually during the pandemic. At the University of Manchester, nurses couldn’t go on placements, so I contacted them and offered virtual placements. In return, I asked for nurses to undertake research at the Christie. The university was keen to support and now I am an Honorary Teaching Fellow there. As a result of this QIP, the project got shortlisted for the Nursing Times awards.


During the scholarship, I was nominated for CNIO of the year, which was fantastic. I set up the first regional CNIO nursing, midwifery & Allied Health Professionals (AHP) network during the pandemic and it’s become established. It’s got about 60 members, we’ve appointed two vice chairs and it’s a cohesive strong network that’s evolving. I work with National CNIO Natasha Phillips at the regional team. She’s visionary; I met her at my FNF interview and she became my mentor when I got the scholarship. I’ve just been mentoring three nurses and they’ve all just attained FNF scholarships.

I was invited to the Digital Health Network. I went to a couple of meetings and I thought, I need to apply for a panel position because there were no northern nurses. So I submitted my form and I got a panel position. I was ecstatic, and I was then elected for the chair, which I didn’t expect. It’s been a fantastic journey – and I’m a Chime advisory panel member.

FNF gave me the opportunities – it opens doors. The FNF programme was life changing for me on a personal and professional level.”