Thursday 5 July 2018. On this day, the 70th anniversary of the NHS, we celebrate the working lives of 20 of our wonderful nurses, therapists and support workers, who have been making a difference to adults and children across Surrey since 2006.
Kat Sealey, Specialist Practitioner School Nurse, CSH Surrey as part of Children and Family Health Surrey
“Wherever you work in the NHS, you touch people’s lives. We have been changing and improving lives in the NHS every day for the last 70 years and whatever the future holds for us, we will continue to do so.”
In November 2017 Kat Sealey was named ‘Rising Star of the Year’ by Nursing Times magazine at its prestigious annual awards. Not bad for someone who started as a care assistant aged 25 and only got onto the nursing degree course through a wing and a prayer after studying at home for her A-Levels while working full time and with a young child. Kat went on to graduate with a first class Honours and hasn’t looked back since.
Here’s Kat's story:
After becoming a single parent at 22, Kat decided to go into care work simply because she wanted to ‘help’. However, she found that wanting to help wasn’t enough, and with experience behind her, now believes knowledge, integrity and courage are also essential for working in the NHS. “You need to be an ambassador for your patients, to lead them to better health; to be an advocate, speaking for those who don’t have a voice. And, especially as a public health nurse, you need to inspire people to look after their bodies and minds and strive for healthy lifestyles,” says Kat.
Kat’s first healthcare job was as a community care assistant, providing personal care for people at home. While working full-time in an acute psychiatric unit she starting studying for three A-Levels (via home study) and just managed to achieve enough UCAS points to be accepted onto a pre-registration nursing course.
Kat graduated with a 1st class honours in nursing from the University of Surrey in 2015. Her first job after qualifying was as a School Staff Nurse with NHS community provider, CSH Surrey. “My favourite part of being a school nurse is when I have the chance to teach in schools. The children often have surprising and fascinating questions about their bodies and I love that they are so interested in their health and wellbeing. When you can ‘catch them young’, you can change the health of a whole generation,” she says.
Kat completed her specialist practitioner training in September 2017 and is now a Specialist Practitioner School Nurse within the Surrey-wide Children and Family Health Surrey service, a partnership service between CSH Surrey, Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (Surrey’s mental health provider) and First Community Health and Care, east Surrey’s NHS community provider.
Kat continues to expand her skills and knowledge, and has written for peer-reviewed journals including the Student Nursing Times and Nursing Times online. She is currently studying for a Master’s degree.
In November 2017 Kat was named ‘Rising Star of the Year’ by Nursing Times magazine after drawing on her knowledge and experience of school nursing to write a book called Angry, ANGRY, Angus, which helps young children (4-7 years) to express their emotions and talk about their feelings to increase their chances of having good mental health as they grow up through their teenage years and into adulthood.
Since then Kat has gone on to develop lesson plans and activities as part of a teaching resource pack that Children and Family Health Surrey is currently piloting with 92 primary schools in Epsom, Leatherhead, Dorking and East Elmbridge. If successful, and early feedback from teachers has been very positive, the service will make the book and resource pack available to all primary schools across Surrey later this year. Here's a photo of Kat swapping books with children’s author Michael Rosen at the Education Show in March 2018.
Kat loves being a School Nurse and especially being involved with early interventions, making sure issues are picked up before children need to seek advice from their GP. “I can think of numerous occasions where the school nursing service has saved GPs’ time and appointment slots by seeing children and referring on to other services. This has a knock on effect for the whole community as it means it’s easier for others to get appointments with their doctors. I love my job as a school nurse because we are educating the next generation and giving children the knowledge and skills to be happier, healthier adults.”
Susan Joyson, Woking Hospital X-Ray service Administrator and Receptionist
“The patients are so appreciative of the little things and my lovely colleagues are always supportive, which makes each day worthwhile.”
Working as an administrator for the last 20 years means Susan is the first point of call for many patients. A reassuring attitude to help patients feel relaxed and have a positive experience is what Susan’s role within the NHS means to her.
A typical day for Susan involves giving patients a warm and friendly welcome, explaining their x-ray procedure, helping them prepare for x-rays and answering any concerns they may have. As well as this Susan supports the radiographers and the day-to-day running of the department by managing telephone booking and queries, doing accurate data entry and ensuring the waiting room area is always presentable.
A particular moment that has stood out for Susan is when she helped a 92 year old patient who arrived at the wrong hospital. She accompanied her in her car as she drove to the correct hospital instead of simply turning her away. Susan says she really enjoys moments like this, where working in the community means you meet a cross-section of patients of all ages and nationalities.
Josephine Reynolds, Community Parkinson’s Nurse Specialist, based at The Poplars, clinic near Epsom
“What I love most about working in the community is meeting patients in their own homes and their families. It helps in understanding patients and in creating a holistic approach to patient care.”
Josephine has 33 years’ NHS service, including roles as a Surgical Staff Nurse, Community Staff Nurse, District Nursing Sister and Neurological Specialist Nurse. In her current role as a Community Parkinson’s Nurse Specialist, she enjoys meeting patients and carers, explaining about Parkinson’s and how medication helps. “To see the impact of my involvement is so rewarding - it can transform the life of someone who has previously been struggling to manage their symptoms,” she explains.
One experience that has stood out for Josephine in her long career was coordinating the care of a young patient who had a learning disability, a life-threatening heart condition and was newly diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. She liaised with the GP, learning disability service, speech therapist and the acute hospital to devise a coordinated approach to the care. She also involved the patient and family in decision-making, which they greatly appreciated.
Josephine believes that working in an employee-owned organisation such as CSH Surrey means everyone matters. “It creates a supportive environment, which means you enjoy coming to work, which in turn makes patients feel more cared for.”
Shirley Spooner, Senior Community Staff Nurse, Dorking District Nursing Team
“When I wear my uniform each day, I am representing a group of people who are linked to such names as Florence Nightingale, and I feel enormous pride.”
Shirley is now in her 41st year with the NHS and due to retire soon, yet will be starting a new chapter within her nursing career – working as part of mid Surrey’s Community and Hospice Home Nursing Service. “I am passionate about the palliative care aspect of nursing. Providing good palliative care for patients, their families and carers to enable them to die at home is very rewarding and satisfying. I feel privileged to do so.”
Shirley remembers the feeling of pride when, aged just 18 and in her new starched student nurse uniform, she attended the annual service of remembrance for Florence Nightingale at Westminster Abbey. The NHS had been established for just 29 years at the time. Now nearing the end of her nursing career, life has come full circle, with Shirley having the opportunity to attend Westminster Abbey again, this time to celebrate 70 years of the NHS. “I feel very lucky to get one of the tickets for this year’s event, and I will feel exactly the same pride wearing my nursing uniform all these years on,” she says.
Shirley’s skills and commitment to providing good care were recognised very early on during her nursing training when she received a first place prize for consistently high standards of practical nursing care. “What I enjoy most about working in the community is getting to know patients and their families, and the relationships I build with other teams. In community nursing you become part of people’s lives over an extended period of time in a way you don’t always have the privilege to in other roles,” Shirley says.
Jane Harrison, Associate Director of Planned Care, CSH Surrey
“What I love about my job is knowing that I make a difference and that I contribute to the delivery of high quality services.”
Jane trained as a physiotherapist and has 31 years’ in the NHS experience, including roles as a Senior Physiotherapist, Extended Scope Physiotherapist and Clinical Manager. Jane enjoys working for the community and making lives better, and for her, working for the NHS means providing excellent care. She continues to offer her skills and expertise, as she has done over the years, to enable patients to have a better quality of life. Where this is not possible, Jane has been able to offer compassionate care and support for families and carers at the end of life.
One highlight of her career was meeting the Queen when she opened the South West London Elective Orthopaedic Centre in Epsom in 2004. Jane headed up the Therapy Team at the centre when the service received CQC ‘Outstanding’ in 2016.
Catherine Parsons, District Nurse Team Leader and Practice Teacher, Walton on Thames, CSH Surrey
“I am very proud to say I work for the NHS, it is the best healthcare system in the world. The NHS treats and supports millions of people and their families without reward, and it is sometimes easy for people to forget this.”
Catherine’s 28 year nursing career has seen her work as a Student Nurse, Community Staff Nurse and Ward Nurse. She loves the variety district nursing brings and of being independent yet still belonging to a team.
As a district nurse team leader, Catherine manages a team of 10 nurses. She supports student district nurses and student nurses with their development, attends clinical commissioning group meetings and reviews any incident forms. When not doing this, Catherine is visiting patients in their homes to provide wound care, palliative care or giving medication, or liaising with other health professions.
“It is an honour to be able to help families at distressing times in their lives, and supporting the loved ones of a patient coming to the end of their life. And when a relative or patient goes out of their way to thank me for what I’ve done for them, that’s very special.”
Over the past 28 years, Catherine has strengthened her view that nursing shouldn’t be just for the academic. “You need to be able to hold a person’s hand when they are dying or change dressings that smell. Being a nurse requires compassion and empathy. Not everyone who would make a good nurse gets great GCSE results when they’re 16, so we need to introduce a suitable test when people apply for nursing, not just rely on school exam results.”
Abigail Maybank, Specialist Paediatric Dietitian, CSH Surrey as part of Children and Family Health Surrey
“I enjoy working somewhere different in the community every day and being able to meet such a variety of different people.”
Having been in the NHS for three years, Abigail says she now wouldn’t want to work for any other healthcare service. For Abigail, working within the NHS means supporting ordinary people like herself, who rely on the NHS to be able to live the healthiest and most fulfilled lives that they can.
A typical day for a Specialist Paediatric Dietitian can be quite varied. For example, running a community clinic at a health centre, going out on home visits, visiting specialist schools, plus a lot of paperwork! Most of all, Abigail enjoys the opportunity to work with children and finding a nutritional plan that works for them, knowing what a difference it can make to their health and quality of life.
Hannah Hirst, Specialist Speech and Language Therapist, Poplars Clinic, near Epsom
“I love spending time with people, getting to know them and what I can do to help them live their lives more easily. I like being able to help in any way I can, no matter how big or small the task.”
Now in her 6th year of NHS service, Hannah has worked as a PA to Executive Directors at a mental health trust, PA to an Infectious Diseases team in a children’s hospital, and is now a specialist in speech and language therapy. Hannah loves that she gets to work with fabulous people every day, describing her job as having “a huge variety with never a dull moment”.
A typical day for Hannah involves either being based on the community rehabilitation ward, or out in the community visiting patients and seeing them in clinics. This is ideal for her as she enjoys spending time with patients, getting to know their families and finding out what they want to focus on. Hannah finds that this familiarity allows her to build a good rapport and ultimately leads to successful outcomes.
Every time someone thanks Hannah for what she does she’s reminded of why she loves her job, making her proud to be a Speech and Language Therapist working for the NHS.
Sarah Tomkins, Associate Director of Operations, North West Surrey Adults Services, CSH Surrey
“I love learning from others and people are so generous with sharing their expertise. No day or hour is the same as the previous one and variety is professed to be the spice of life! The NHS belongs to us all and it is a privilege to work in this unique health system.”
Now in her 26th year, Sarah, a paediatric nurse by training, has had number of roles across different services. Her career path has included working as a Health Care Assistant with children with learning difficulties in a respite unit, child and adolescent mental health and youth offending work in prisons, achieving a Masters in Psychotherapy, working as an operational manager within children’s NHS community services, and working as team and locality lead in child and adolescent mental health and learning disabilities. “There are numerous opportunities and different avenues to progress your career within the NHS. A standout moment for me was receiving an award from a children and adolescents’ advocacy group for commitment to child and adolescent mental health. It is an honour knowing my contribution made a difference to the lives of others,” she says.
Working for the NHS is hugely important to Sarah as the key principles align with her core values of equity, meeting the needs of everyone, a free service at the point of delivery and access being based on clinical need, not ability to pay.
Angela Batley, Community Matron, Dorking Community Medical Hub
“I asked my husband what he thinks working for the NHS means to me. He said it means absolutely everything.”
Angela is very proud to be a nurse and learns something new every day. In her opinion, nursing is the best career in the world, and has allowed her to travel and work in other countries.
Angela loves working in the community. She finds it a privilege that patients welcome her into their own homes and allow her to see into their worlds. This, she says, is very important when understanding their illnesses and helping to manage them.
“I love meeting people from all the walks of life. Nursing brings many highs and lows, and patients and colleagues can teach you a lot about yourself. The team spirit, a good sense of humour and working with other amazing NHS workers make the job easy for me.”
Liam Tutton, Care Coordinator with the Dorking Community Medical Team
“It’s nice to be part of a team, not only in a small community team but as part of the bigger picture trying to make the NHS as good as it can be.”
Each day is different for Liam, which is part of what makes each day so enjoyable. He describes working for the NHS as meaning a lot to him, knowing that every day he’s able to do something to help somebody, which very rewarding.
A typical day involves firstly checking that the days visits for the community matrons and GPs are booked in, and to check throughout the day if any other referrals come through for other patients who may require a visit. “I liaise a lot with other services to try and make sure that patients’ care is as joined up as possible. For example, I refer patients on to other appropriate services, carry out welfare phone calls and also visit the patients themselves to take basic observations such as blood pressure and pulse.”
One and a half years in to his role as Care Coordinator for a community medical team, Liam has found that none of his previous jobs have been as varied day to day. Although there will always be aspects that remain the same, he never quite knows what to expect when he walks through the door in the morning, ensuring there is never a dull moment.
Liam is relatively new to the NHS but has found that it is more positive than he had expected, given the sort of criticism it sometimes gets. He finds that patients almost always express how grateful they are and are pleased with the care they have received.
Hazel Croft, Community Nursery Nurse, Spelthorne School Nursing Team, CSH Surrey as part of Children and Family Health Surrey
“For some, work is a means to an end, but for others like myself, working within the NHS can be a joyous element of our lives.”
With 12 years’ NHS service, Hazel is proud and happy to be celebrating its 70th year. She views her work as a way to contribute to society and to feel like ‘we matter and have a purpose’.
There are many experiences that stand out for her, including helping families overcome night-time bedwetting, seeing children for health promotion sessions such as healthy eating and personal hygiene, getting thanked and being made to feel appreciated, and being able to identify, refer and to support young carers.
Hazel loves all aspects of her role and working with young people she feels she is able to make a difference in any parts of their lives that need support.
Kathryn Stevens, Clinical Systems Data Quality Manager, CSH Surrey
“Technology has improved so many processes and freed up clinical time so clinicians have more time to devote to patients. I love that the work I do improves the quality of the records held for patients, minimising risk to them.”
Kathryn started her journey with the NHS as a State Registered Chiropodist in July 1986, making this her 32nd year. After serving as a District Chiropodist, she was seconded to help services move onto an electronic clinical system, and worked her way up to manage the clinical systems team. She describes working for the NHS as making it possible for teams to provide the best care for patients, whether as a clinician on the frontline or in the supporting services. “The work I do improves the quality of the patient records and minimises risk by ensuring there are not duplicate records on the system, that the information held on the patient is complete and up to date, caseloads are reviewed and that the activity teams undertake is reflected in reporting.”
Kathryn believes the NHS should provide the money to invest in more and better IT as she has experienced first-hand the benefits of technology and the time that could be saved and dedicated to patients. A standout memory was when a colleague in the Information Technology (IT) team solved a problem that was affecting frontline staff and management, who had been struggling to get useful and accurate reports. They produced a suite of reports that gave me an overview of data quality across services, and could be drilled down to patient level. She says: “The cherry on the cake came when he created an automated email notification so clinicians could have details of their outstanding appointments. I was so very excited that my dream had been achieved.”
Natasha Lea, Physiotherapist at Walton and Woking Community Hospitals
“Although we are each only one person, each of us has a large part to play, whether that is seeing patients face-to-face or behind the scenes completing administration roles. It provides me with great job satisfaction to know I am helping to keep the NHS going.”
Natasha has been a Physiotherapist for three years and feels proud to be part of such a big institution that helps thousands of people every day. Her typical day involves receiving a handover from the ward nursing staff and doctors, discussing all the patients. “We prioritise our caseload of patients with the rest of our team, including occupational therapists, other physiotherapists, and therapy assistants. We then see our patients on the ward and do initial assessments to review their mobility. We complete falls assessments and do rehabilitation, often in the therapy gym, to try to improve patients’ mobility and physical function. We plan for patients’ discharge from hospital to ensure they return home safely. This can mean working closely with occupational therapy to establish if a patient may need a package of care or specialist equipment. We make any appropriate onward referrals and then have to complete our notes for all patients to ensure everything we have done is documented. A couple of tea breaks in between and that sums up a typical day for a physiotherapist on the wards at Walton and Woking Community Hospitals!”
Natasha loves meeting different people from all different backgrounds. She loves seeing the changes in her patients’ mobility, helping them achieve their goals, and being a part of the last step in a patient’s journey before they return back home.
Geoff Thiselton, Extended Scope Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist, Leatherhead Hospital
“I feel proud to be working for an organisation that strives for excellence and knowing that patient care is the prime focus.”
Geoff has 18 years’ NHS service, which has seen him work up through all the grades within physiotherapy. Geoff feels that by working in the community, you get to understand the patient and appreciate the psychosocial factors that have an impact on their lives, which helps to improve the treatment and care given to them.
Numerous episodes stand out to Geoff, where his direct intervention has enhanced the quality of patients’ daily lives. What he says he loves most about his job – helping patients and the buzz of self-fulfilment.
Linda Buchanan, Health Visitor, Addlestone, CSH Surrey as part of Children and Family Health Surrey
“I belong to a wonderful team, there is much happiness and joy in health visiting which we celebrate. There are also a lot of sad stories and we support each other so we have the capacity to support families through these difficult times.”
Working as a Health Visitor in the community, Linda enjoys being out and about developing a good feel for different areas, which allows her to understand the health needs and life experiences of families living in South Runnymede.
Her role is varied and includes doing home visits for new born babies and their parents, providing one-to-one parenting advice, working with Children’s Services to support families where there is a safeguarding concern, conducting routine health and development reviews for babies and toddlers, and many other duties. Linda says most importantly, she is there for mothers who are struggling by offering non-judgemental support for them to be the best parents that they can be.
Linda leads parent and infant mental health baby massage groups at a Children’s Centre. Watching mums learn to trust themselves, allowing themselves to love their baby and seeing them make friends stands out among Linda’s best experiences as a Health Visitor.
Prior to training in public health nursing as a Health Visitor, Linda spent time as a hospital staff nurse and a specialist nurse, before taking a break in service for 18 years to have children. She then returned to practice and was a community staff nurse before becoming a Health Visitor.
Victoria Peace, Community Matron, Dorking Community Medical Team
“Throughout my career I have worked in some of the poorest, most deprived areas and some of the most affluent, wealthiest locations. I’ve looked after sex workers, drug addicts and patients who have been knighted… The NHS is accessible to everyone who needs it.”
Victoria Peace has a 24 year nursing career. A typical day involves seeing vulnerable patients in their own homes who are at risk of being admitted to hospital because of their many long term conditions. “I carry out assessments, examinations and interventions to ensure patients can stay in their own homes, which is better for them in all sorts of ways than going into hospital, and it’s where they want to be.”
Three years ago Victoria found herself on the receiving end of NHS care when her then 5 year old son was rushed to A&E. He almost fell into a comma and was subsequently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. She describes her experience of the NHS, from walking through the A&E doors to being admitted for two weeks, and to now being seen regularly by the consultant, as “gold standard care”.
Victoria is proud to be part of an organisation delivering such care, having experienced being on both the giving and receiving end. “I work with fantastic people, including GPs, care coordinators, mental health practitioners, social workers and physiotherapists. They all make it possible for me and others to deliver the best care. I have a real admiration for what the NHS does and will never forget the nurse who put her hand on my knee when my son was at his worst, and told me everything would be okay.”
Vivien Allen, Clinical Specialist Paediatric Physiotherapist, CSH Surrey as part of Children and Family Health Surrey
Vivien joined the NHS when she was 21, she is now 63. Her colleagues describe her as being highly committed to the NHS and its ideals. As a committed team player, Vivien ensures she provides a caring and supportive service to the children and families every day. She is proud to work within a service that has revolutionised healthcare and is free at the point of access.
Catherine May, Professional Lead for Paediatric Physiotherapy, CSH Surrey as part of Children and Family Health Surrey
“NHS staff need to continue to be recognised and celebrated for the amazing work and services they offer.”
Catherine has worked for the NHS for 22 years, “giving all members of society the same opportunities to receive excellent care”, as she describes it. All NHS staff she has come across give everything to the care of their patients, frequently working over and above what is expected, always friendly with a smile, and passionate to deliver the best service possible.
The joy on a child or parent’s face when they tell Catherine what they can now do stands out for her: “I went to Legoland at the weekend and didn’t use my wheelchair all day”; “I took part in my race at sports day and I didn’t come last!”; “She can now roll over to reach her toys”; “Look how fast I can run with my walker!”; “Yesterday I rode my bike all the way to Granny’s house”; and many more triumphs.
Catherine believes that community services can often be overlooked and undervalued, yet are vital for continuing healthcare, lifelong management of long term conditions, health and wellbeing and preventing hospital admissions.
Fiona Mooney, Head of Epsom Community Hub
“For me, working in the NHS means providing high quality, reliable, safe services for all. It offers a great career structure and opportunities, good training and fabulous colleagues who all want to give their best to patients.”
Whether it’s been helping a young head injury patient to walk for the first time, a lady with no arms to live independently, seeing junior physiotherapists develop to provide high quality care, or simply being part of an NHS provider that puts patient care at the centre of what it does – there have been more than a few standout moments for Fiona.
Fiona’s 32 years in the NHS have included many different roles, from Neuro Physiotherapist and Physiotherapist in Learning Disability to Clinical Manager for Community Rehabilitation Services. “I enjoy making a difference to people’s lives, improving the care they receive and hope for more resources to continually improve this in the coming years. I love working for CSH Surrey; the people I work with and the patients make it all worthwhile,” says Fiona.