Working for the NHS is a world of opportunities as nurse Robert Ward’s career shows.
He qualified as a registered mental health nurse in 1987, working at Blackpool Victoria Hospital’s psychiatric unit, later known as Parkwood and now demolished.
Robert then took advantage of an 18-month post-registration course to become a registered general nurse. Blackpool was one of the few hospitals at the time to offer this opportunity.
“But by the time I qualified – and hard as it is to believe now – there were too many nurses being trained and not enough jobs, so I had to go back to mental health nursing,” he said.
What followed were spells in Parkwood as both a staff nurse and ward manager and working as charge nurse at Lancaster Farms prison for young offenders.
By the year 2000, Robert’s career took a new turn as he became involved in nurse recruitment and retention, including encouraging colleagues who had left the profession to return to practice, and establishing a Health and Social Care Cadet Scheme which is still now running today under an apprenticeship programme. That was followed by nine years as the Mental Capacity Act Lead at the hospital until his retirement in 2020.
But the Covid pandemic drew him back to the Vic where he became clinical lead for the vaccine roll out as well as supporting the staff flu campaign.
“I’ve had a terrific 40 years with the NHS – there’s never been a day I didn’t want to come to work,” said Robert.
“I got a lot of satisfaction from the recruitment and retention role, bringing on the next generation even at the times when they didn’t think they could do it.”
Robert, like his wife Kim who retired from the Vic in the spring, hasn’t quite settled into retirement. He is now a HIV Nurse gives HIV care three days a week with Blackpool Sexual Health Service. Kim is an advanced nurse practitioner now working part-time in pre-operative assessment.