Blackpool Teaching Hospitals has said goodbye to one of its most recognisable faces this week, as Sue Houldsworth retires as nurse manager of occupational health at the Trust.
Sue has been working within the occupational health department for eleven years and wherever staffing issues are concerned, Sue is not far away. A self-professed ‘font of all knowledge’ Sue has been at the heart of the Trust’s response to the infection prevention control issues surrounding the Covid pandemic, she played a key role in dealing with the monkeypox outbreak and is usually the one on the end of the phone when departmental managers have a question about staff welfare and sickness.
After joining the NHS in 1981 as a student nurse, Sue began her career at South Shore Hospital before moving to work on ophthalmic ward at Blackpool Victoria in 1989. She has spent time working on Ward 19 and Ward 24, before joining occupational health.
“It’s like one big family and we are a bit like the parents,” Sue said this week. “Working for the caregivers, it is nice to be able to look after the people that are looking after the people. If they are not well and they are not functioning well then how do we look after the bigger population?
“I have been a caregiver for many years and I quite like the fact that I know a lot of them and it is sometimes quite nice that they will ring because they know me.”
Keeping a happy and healthy workforce has been one of the most enjoyable aspects of Sue’s time within occupational health, and though she is retiring as nurse manager, we will probably be seeing more of Sue as she will be remaining within the team.
She said: “I love my job because it is never boring because there is always something different that will turn up. It is nice when you have been seeing somebody who has not been well and you have worked with them and with their manager and then they make a successful return to work and everybody is happy.
“To be honest I didn’t want to retire fully because you think ‘What am I going to do every day?’ You have to have a purpose for getting up every day. I feel that I have got the best of both worlds, because I don’t want to stop working and I don’t want to leave the speciality I am in because I do love it and I think I am quite good at it. I’ve still got something to offer.”
Speaking about Sue’s impact on occupational health, Head of Workforce, Wellbeing and OD, Sue Wild said: “She has been the greatest advocate for this department, most people in the organisation know her, everybody who does know her loves her because she is one of the kindest, sweetest most helpful people you would ever get to meet.
“I can’t say now that I would be lost without her because she is still going to be here, but it is so well deserved, and she now gets to go back to what she absolutely loves, which is that face to face with patients. She has done her time in the management leadership role and she has left a real good role model for the person who comes after her. Now she gets to go back to that passion of being with the patients and doing pure occupational health.”