As I approach my last day at ASPH this Friday (13th Dec) to go on secondment, I leave with mixed senses of sadness, pride and excitement. Sadness that I am leaving such wonderful colleagues, pride at all we’ve achieved together during my time here and excitement for the future. Excitement on a personal level as I embark on the next stage of my career, and for ASPH as you embark on a huge journey of transformation.
I started at the Trust on 17th September 2017, my first role as Chief Nurse. Clearly stepping into an executive role is a brilliant opportunity, but it certainly brought feelings of trepidation. What was apparent to me from day one was that I had nothing to be anxious about. From executive colleagues to those working on the front line throughout ASPH, I have encountered warm, supportive, committed and encouraging colleagues. People who have embraced me for the person I am and the experience and perspective I’ve brought to the organisation, as I hope I have reciprocated.
On my second day in the job, the CQC arrived at St Peter’s for an unannounced inspection of medicine, so the pressure was certainly on! However, I had absolutely nothing to worry about. The supportive approach I describe above surfaced immediately and all teams mobilised and responded to the visit positively. Everyone was calm and knew what to do and the incredible levels of expertise in existence at ASPH was clear to see. The fact we went on to achieve a ‘Good’ rating in our 2018 CQC Inspection is testament to this.
That calm approach and expertise has seen us through some tough times over the past two years – no Chief Nurse in any Trust could claim the job is plain sailing! There have been times of immense demand and pressure on services, we’ve dealt with some very difficult and sad cases and often work within an extremely busy and imperfect environment. From a personal perspective my challenge has often been time to manage the many elements of the Chief Nurse remit – I wish there were more hours in the day to spend on the front line with colleagues. What I will say is that during my walkabouts I’ve seen frequent examples of outstanding patient care and people working together to go above and beyond for the patient. I’ve felt very proud of not just my nursing and midwifery colleagues but the whole team.
I will take so much away with me as I move onto my new role as Deputy Chief Nursing Officer for Innovation and Safety at NHS England. We’ve done some fantastic patient safety and quality improvement work at the Trust and that real-life experience will serve me well as I look at the national picture.
Going forward I am delighted that my deputy, Andrea Lewis, has been appointed into the Interim Chief Nurse position. Andrea brings a wealth of experience from her time in the armed forces and the NHS and I’m confident the nursing and midwifery directorate will go from strength-to-strength under her leadership. The Trust has a very exciting future ahead, with opportunities to transform services and facilities across both hospitals. I sense I am leaving colleagues keen and equipped to grasp and own those opportunities.
I would like to say a big thank you to you all. Thank you for welcoming and supporting me, for encouraging and developing me. I’ve worked with so many amazing colleagues at ASPH and I would like to give special mention to Suzanne as Chief Executive and David as Medical Director. Suzanne is an outstanding leader and I have learnt so much from working with her. I feel she is a true role model in balancing leadership, compassion, understanding and accountability. David leads from the front and is full of inspiration and enthusiasm with a consistent desire to do the very best for patients and the team. Thank you to Louise, James, Tom and Simon for your wise counsel, friendship and humour. I feel very lucky to have worked with such a great Executive and Board team.
All that remains is for me to say that I will miss you all. My mantra has always been to be kind and take care of each other. If we don’t look after ourselves and each other then we can’t look after the patients. After 27 years a nurse and having worked across three different continents, ASPH has felt like home. Kindness and empathy is at the root of that, so please just keep up the good work!
With best wishes and many thanks