The National Health Service is turning 70 on 5th July 2018. It’s the perfect opportunity to celebrate the achievements of one of the nation’s most loved institutions, to appreciate the vital role the service plays in our lives, and to recognise and thank the extraordinary NHS staff.
Julie Attfield shares her thoughts as our NHS reaches a major milestone in it’s history.
What is your name? Julie Attfield
What is your role? Executive Director of Nursing
Why did you choose to work in the NHS?
I chose to work in the NHS 33 years ago very much influenced by my neighbour who was a mental health nurse. I was studying mechanical engineering at the time! I hadn’t been personally touched much by the NHS back then. But I was compelled by the sense of welfare, care and social justice related to helping people who need healthcare at a time in their lives when they were most vulnerable. At the time I didn’t have a great understanding that I would become part of an amazing team that makes a huge difference to peoples’ lives every single day.
Describe what you do
The role and responsibilities of the nurse executive differ depending on the purpose and setting of the organisation you work for. But one of the most important aspects of the role is to inform, advise and help colleagues on the board to understand how strategic decisions affect the quality and safety of patient care and the wider patient experience. Caring for patients is the business of the NHS, so it is crucial that the quality of patient care lies at the heart of all decision- making. A key part of my role at board level is to champion the business of caring and enabling executive and non-executive colleagues to understand the relevance of patient care to all aspects of the decision-making process. As a nurse executive, you need a corporate perspective in addition to your professional role, and you must keep this in mind; with a shared responsibility for the whole organisation as well as providing AHP (Allied Health Professions) and Nursing leadership.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
There are plenty of highs, and sometimes even more lows. It can be unbelievably stressful, yet highly rewarding at the same time. My most enjoyable times have been working with fantastic caring clinical teams and executive teams who work together on shared challenges. Inevitably the best times are out with clinicians, patients their families and volunteers – that’s where I find my inspiration.
What three words would you use to describe the NHS?
Fantastic, remarkable and ‘ours’.
If you could give the NHS any 70th birthday present what would it be?
I would give it all that it needs to stay leading edge and to ensure that good healthcare is available to all.
What advice would you give to someone who was thinking about working at Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust?
My advice would be to ‘go for it’ – we may not always get it right but respect, dignity, compassion and care are at the forefront of our minds here. We are unique in the range of services that we offer and our work on involvement and partnerships is leading edge. Every day is different , our work is a real privilege and colleagues here are central to all that is great about the NHS
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Find out more:https://www.england.nhs.uk/nhs70/
NHS70: Celebrating 70 years of the NHS