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International Nurses Day

Today is International Nurses Day!

We are joining the celebrations around the world to celebrate nurses who have made a big difference in patients’ lives, experiencing the #BestOfNursing


Nicola Allen

Chief Executive - CBC Health Federation

My journey to being a nurse started as a child, I am from a family of nurses- mainly male nurses who worked in Mental Health, and then 2 aunties who also trained to be nurses and also worked in mental health, the Old Winterton Hospital as it was then at Sedgefield.

Their stories of how things were done in their day both mesmerised and fascinated me, looking back to how they were trained to practice, a lot has changed and much of it for the better.

I trained at Darlington Memorial Hospital in June 1985, 1 of a group of 10 students who spent their first week of training learning how to wear the uniform correctly, fold the paper hat we had to wear with the stripes to identify which year we were in.( And there is a photo to prove it!!) This and how to make a hospital bed with the ultimate hospital corners, a skill i have never forgotten but have less need to practice as the fitted sheet is far more practical and functionable!

I was trained on the wards where you 3 year training program was mapped out in advance so you knew which ward you were going onto, when you were doing days or nights and when your exams were. We had a mixture of written exams and practical assessments conducted on the wards by senior trained ward staff- I can still remember how terrifying those tests were.


My ambition from the start was to be a District Nurse which I achieved first joining the Teesdale District Nursing Team as a staff nurse as skill mix was just being started in community. I then trained in my specialist qualification and prescribing serving Teesdale in some of the happiest days of my career. I had the most fantastic office- the huge but beautiful scenery of Teessdale, I worked with a dedicated and hard working team and we worked with a forward thinking and dedicated team of GP's. There was never a dull moment and we had the privilege to serve and support some of the kindest- albeit plain speaking people in the country. I was accepted even though I was an "outsider" ie not from Teesdale but they welcomed me in and I worked up there over 5 years until I took up a Matron post at The Richardson Hospital Barnard Castle.


I then moved from there to open the walk in Centre in Darlington one of the first Nurse led facilities of its kind, something i am immensely proud of as we set a precedence, were trail blazers and were extremely successful seeing over 48,000 patient in the first year we opened.


I then moved into senior service management leading services such as dermatology heart failure, palliative an end of life care, intermediate care, community nursing teams and minor surgery suites including bowel screening and endoscopy services. I spent a few years working in the surgical directorate using my nursing skills to help design a 20 million pound theatre renovation at Darlington Memorial Hospital, which had to be built whilst still functioning as a busy theatre suite. I became the clinical lead for community services in Gateshead in 2016 and the rest is history.

I am immensely proud to be a nurse and I feel that during the pandemic nurses stepped forward, went above and beyond and once again showed the spirit of what nursing is all about . I now encourage others to be the best they can be, including actively encouraging others to think about nursing as a career, nursing has been the best thing i have ever done and I have friends that are nurses that I am still in contact with even from my training. Nursing as a profession has changed considerably and I reflect often with my friend on how we were trained and why things have changed now and again often for the better.

I wouldn't change a thing about my  career, I still get a thrill out of delivering high quality care to patients- my role is just different now but I have never stopped being a nurse. 

Nicola Allen


Laura Maitra

Lead Nurse - Inner West Primary Care Network

I went to Dundee Uni to study nursing at 17, as I had no doubt that's what I wanted to do as a career. I was a young carer so it was a natural progression for me really.


On qualifying I moved to Newcastle to work in the Emergency Department but I always had a passion for elderly medicine so when the opportunity came to manage an Acute Elderly Medical ward I jumped at the chance. I was then one the youngest ward managers in the country at 24. 

After being advised to gain knowledge of all parts of the elderly patient's journey I moved from secondary to primary care where I still am now. 


I am very passionate about accessible care for elderly patients and promoting choice in preferred place of care. 


I have been a nurse 17 years now, and still enjoy meeting and caring for people particularly in their own homes as much as I did when I first started. 


I love that within the profession there is always so many opportunities be it academic, managerial, clinical or research it's just a diverse career that continuously excites my ambitious side. 


I never forget how I felt when I first wore my nursing uniform and I hope it always continues to feel as special for me. 

Laura Maitra


Sophie Walters

Practice Development Nurse - CBC Health Federation

I have been a qualified adult nurse for 10 years. My inspiration has always been my mother, who was Matron for women’s services and a strong but always kind leader. From being little I always wanted to be a nurse and follow in her footsteps/ although I may have been edged in that direction also 😃

My first role was on a busy colorectal ward where I thoroughly enjoyed the fast-paced dynamic environment and gained so many skills, but felt my calling was end of life care which took me to district nursing. I have always been very passionate about individualised care and giving my very best to my patients and their families. I spend 4 and a half wonderful years in the west end of Newcastle caring for many lovely people and working with a fantastic team. However, after having my 2 little boys, I took a position as a singular practice nurse in a small surgery in Gateshead. This was a huge learning curve, but I loved the versatile role and developed a real passion for improving patient experience and education especially in women’s health and smears.


I have always enjoyed sharing my skills and teaching others and felt from my experience of working as a singular nurse I wanted to improve the primary care nursing networks to create a more collaborative support system and explore how more student nurses can be exposed to the wonderful environment.


I started working at CBC in February as educational lead but from 1st of May I have had a promotion to Practice Development Nurse. My new role is wide and varied but my joy is engaging with young people through careers talk and my current smear education campaign . I thoroughly love my job and am the ultimate advocate for nursing careers 😊 For me Nursing is a huge part of my identity and I love to promote the wide opportunity’s the career brings.

Sophie Walters


Melanie Fogg

Urgent Primary Care Service Lead - CBC Health Federation

When growing up, I was never the child who would say that they wanted to be a nurse, for me my career in nursing was always something that I felt I ‘fell into’, but soon became something that I was very proud to be and passionate about delivering the best care, particularly for those patients at end of life.

My career started as a Care Assistant in a nursing home, followed by becoming a Health Care Assistant in the local hospital, whilst applying for my RGN training. I qualified as a Registered Nurse in 1997 and relocated from Teesside to Tyneside to start my nursing career.


It was evident from my early days as a student nurse that palliative care and oncology was an area that I would dedicate the majority of my career to and throughout the following years, my passion to deliver the best palliative care and end of life care has never waned.


Whilst my career path over later years has moved from direct patient facing, to service development and operational management, I feel that my values and this passion still positively influence and make a difference to the care patients and their families receive – that is what makes this profession so rewarding!


Melanie Fogg

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