Celebrating its 10-year anniversary this month, the award-winning Tower Hamlets Open Doors service, which has trained and supported hundreds of nurses and health care assistants in the borough over the last decade, is inviting their alumni back for a special celebratory tea party in recognition of their achievements.
The hardship of attracting and retaining nurses is not a new issue in the NHS. In 2007, experienced nurse, Vicky Souster, was asked by the then Primary Care Trust, to advise on better ways to recruit and train practice nurses. She did such a great job that six months later the training programme built around her work was operational. A decade on, Vicky is head of the service, and Open Doors is responsible for recruiting more than 58 Practice Nurses into Tower Hamlets. At least 50% of all the staff employed by GP practices in Tower Hamlets have been trained at some point by the Open Doors team.
This feat is even more impressive when you learn that, in addition to Vicky, the Open Doors Team is made up of just five part time clinical tutors, all of whom are experienced Practice Nurses or Advanced Nurse Practitioners.
The team: Anne Morton, Angela Nagle, Michele Leworthy and Diane Gould (Saloni, not pictured)
The team is passionate about upskilling the Tower Hamlets Primary Care workforce. When they turned their attention to Health Care Assistants in the borough, they partnered with the Open University to train HCAs, helping them to attain Diplomas in health and social care. Currently, 32% of all HCAs in Tower Hamlets have directly engaged with Open Doors training leading to formal qualifications.
The team uses their knowledge and understanding of the borough to develop targeted support where it’s needed. In 2014, they, along with Residential Care Home managers, designed and delivered a project to help the staff understand common chronic conditions that the residents they cared for were likely to suffer from. Over the next three years, Diane Gould and Michele Leworthy from Open Doors, delivered 22 workshops which were attended by 196 people who had no formal clinical training It’s actions like these that no doubt contributed to them winning a national award; the HENCEL Quality Award for Excellence in Widening Participation and Wider Workforce Development in 2014.
Vicky Souster, said: “I am very pleased that we are celebrating 10 years of work having survived three major reorganisations in local health care systems with the team intact! It has been a great joy to see so many people flourish professionally and personally. Our goal is to improve patient care by providing Practice staff with relevant and up to date education. My team has provided an amazing service to Tower Hamlets nurses and HCAs, they have worked extremely hard and produced excellent results. Without them and support from the CCG and GP Care Group we would not have achieved anything.”
Up to 100 ex students and mentors are expected at the special tea party event, as well as some important guests including local health boss, Jane Milligan (Accountable Officer for North East London), and Jane Clegg, Deputy Chief Nurse, NHSE, London Region).
Find out more about the Open Doors team here: www.gpcaregroup.org/open-doors
View pics from the 10 Year Anniversary Tea Party