29/03/2021 | Announcements, Press releases

New Chief Nurse reflects on pandemic and shares hopes for future

New Chief Nurse Giles Thorpe joined the Trust in November, taking on the role before the second wave of Coronavirus (COVID-19) hit. He’s shared his hopes, passions and how he wants to provide the best care for patients while supporting staff in an honest and open interview.

With a 20-year career in the NHS, beginning in intensive care, Giles said he is often humbled by his peers, now more than ever, having witnessed just how “dedicated and flexible” he’s seen all staff since he arrived.

He says: “I’m astounded by the sheer dedication of staff throughout the pandemic. Members of the team are working in areas they’ve never been to before. They’re putting patients before themselves every day and may have been personally affected by this too. The commitment and flexibility of the workforce is amazing. This has been so challenging, so tough.”

His concern, worry and compassion are genuine in every word he says – and he makes a point of talking about all staff, not just nurses, but midwives, doctors, allied health professionals and support workers.

Giles working at a Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination hub

“I want to do everything I can to support them, to be visible. If anyone has feedback or has an idea or wants to talk to me – email me, stop me if I’m on a ward. I want staff to feel they can come and talk to me.”

Giles is also aware – and worried – about the impact on staff after the pandemic, the pressure to “turn everything back on straight away” and how there won’t be any breathing space, no time to sit, reflect and heal.

Caring for patients is also the focus of every driver and decision for Giles. When Giles talks about delivering the best care for patients, he’s visibly sparking with enthusiasm to make it happen. “Quality, safety, patient experience and family experience are hugely important,” He says.

He includes patients’ families when he speaks about the importance of patient care.

Giles Thorpe
Giles working at his office

He says: “I’ve spent a large part of my career in end-of-life care, working in intensive care and for NHS Blood and Transplant. Working with traumatic death was one of the most humbling parts of my clinical experiences. It wasn’t easy supporting someone’s loved ones to make difficult decisions, but very grounding.”

Giles was drawn to ESNEFT as he felt it was a Trust that is moving forward, listening to patients and staff as well as pushing boundaries.

“I’d worked at Colchester Hospital before the merger and watched how ESNEFT was developing. It is a really exciting organisation; I loved what I was seeing and was really impressed with the leadership. To see an organisation be so passionate and look beyond the walls of itself was very attractive to me.

“I thought I really want to be a part of that leadership team. It’s large and complex and I like working with that level of complexity.”

Despite the complexities, Giles has a lot of plans for the future, including supporting staff with new opportunities, as well as reigniting ones that have had to be paused during the pandemic.

Giles Thorpe
Giles preparing an injection

“I want to reignite nurse-led research projects and encourage academic clinical development. I feel really strongly about the importance of staff development and want to support staff academically, to go and work in a different environments for a time if they want to, have experiences and come back and share the learning.

“The NHS shouldn’t just be about working your way up from the bottom. We should support someone working here, then maybe in the community, then perhaps as a care home manager then back to the Trust. All that knowledge and experience is invaluable.”

Embracing difference is evidently very important to Giles, leading the diversity agenda and creating a voice for the lesser-heard groups in the community.

“We need to make sure the ‘stay silent’ groups are heard. We know there are health inequalities, we need to look to these communities who don’t often share what they need or think, engage with them and learn. We can do better.

“People are more than one particular characteristic and shouldn’t be thought of like that. We need to look at everyone’s care holistically.

“I am already looking at patient experience groups and how we are going to reinvigorate those after COVID. There’s more work to be done with BAME groups and a huge piece of work around the LGBTQ+ agenda. We know people don’t want to share same-sex partner information when they come into hospital. This isn’t OK. We also need to support the trans community to feel safe coming into hospital.  We need to ensure everyone feels safe.

“As an organisation we need to challenge ourselves, innovate, and we need to respond to our communities’ needs. We also need to stop and reflect at times, to look at our achievements as well as learn where we need to go in the future.”

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