Anna Dorothy: International Nurses Day 2023

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Jul 4, 2023

Anna Dorothy, Programme Director at NECS, has been a Registered Nurse for 24 years. On International Nurses Day, she talks about how having nurses as part of the NECS workforce brings experience and credibility that supports a focus on patient outcomes.

“I have been a registered nurse for 24 years, and what a journey it has been! I have worked substantively for five acute hospitals (more if you include agency work), numerous CCGs and two CSUs. I have worked across a range of clinical specialties including medicine, surgery, gynaecology, but mainly critical care – a specialty that remains close to my heart. I then ventured into the world of commissioning, working in quality, nursing and transformation roles.

“More recently I became a bit of an expert in Covid-19 vaccination and welcomed the Prime Minister to Northamptonshire’s largest vaccination centre where I am proud to say we administered 321,000 jabs! So how did it all happen?………

“I was inspired to become a nurse when I was 16 years old and my Dad spent time on a Neurological Intensive Care Unit in Ireland. I was so impressed by the knowledge and professionalism demonstrated by the nurses and made it my mission to become a critical care nurse. I moved to England and started a Registered Adult Nurse Diploma in 1996.

“After I qualified, I took a staff nurse position in surgery at Addenbrookes Hospital, immediately followed by a job in medicine to consolidate my learning before stepping through the doors of the Intensive Care Unit at Northampton General Hospital. I worked my way up through the bands (or grades as there were then!) and took the opportunity to work on other Intensive Care Units, and as a Critical Care Outreach nurse, seeing some of the most seriously ill patients in the hospital.

“After ten years in critical care, I wanted to spread my wings and become a ward manager and managed the gynae ward and day case unit at Kettering General Hospital. There I was asked to investigate a Serious Incident which sparked my interest in patient safety and introduced me to the local CCG quality team who suggested I apply for a position with them. By this time, I was married with two young children. The nature of the work and more social hours was a great opportunity, so I took the jump.

“The world of commissioning provided me with rapid career progression, working as an interim and as an NHS employee. In 2019 I became Director of Clinical Services and Chief Nurse at NELCSU. Having a clinical and operational background has allowed me to apply a real-life lens to commissioning decisions, whether that be review of a serious incident investigation report to how we measure patient outcomes in a meaningful way. Having conversations with providers about quality measures, with clinical knowledge and experience brings credibility to the conversation.

“I have remained conscious of the need to main not only my clinical registration (with the Nursing and Midwifery Council), but to remain in touch clinically. This can be challenging, but the Covid-19 pandemic provided me with an opportunity to update my clinical skills and deliver direct patient care again.

“Initially I worked shifts on critical care, where demand for experienced critical care nurses was high, then in December 2019 I started a two-year secondment as Deputy Director of the Covid-19 vaccination programme in Northamptonshire where I remained for two years. This was a hugely challenging role, but one I felt privileged to undertake. It took me entirely out of my comfort zone as it did many people who were involved in the programme. The role included rolling my sleeves up and assessing or jabbing patients at the vaccination centre, jabbing in mosques and community venues to increase uptake in minority groups, to putting countywide plans in place which resulted in jabbing over 70,000 people in a single week when the Omicron variant result in boosters being brought forward.

“The role required me to develop skills outside of nursing, specifically in media and comms with a bit of TV and radio action (utterly terrifying!).

“When I decided I wanted to become a nurse at the age of 16, I couldn’t have imagined the journey it would take me on. None of my roles have been easy, but the satisfaction of being able to so positively impact peoples lives both personally and at scale is a true privilege. I have clearly made it look like an attractive career prospect as my daughter is in her first year of her adult nursing degree, whilst also working as a health care assistant in mental health.

“Nursing provides so many career routes and opportunities. Having nurses as part of the NECS workforce brings a richness and experience that helps to keep the organisation grounded in reality and credible. It provides a voice that reminds everyone that we are ultimately here for patients and the public, to ensure they receive the highest quality and safest possible care.”