70 for 70
70 for 70

Cathy Byrne

"I work closely alongside the team and help make decisions that can ultimately change someone’s life. It’s a big responsibility but also a great honour."

This year mark’s Cathy’s 17th year in the NHS in a variety of roles.

Here’s her story:

“I have been in my current role as Team Lead for the Specialist Older Adults Mental Health Service (SOAMHS) now for 18 months. 

“I look after an integrated team, both Council and NHS employees,, whose remit is to provide specialist mental health support to older adults in Brighton and Hove. The team are hugely skilled, massively knowledgeable and incredibly passionate. It is a privilege to work alongside them. The work is busy and pressured and we are made up of nurses, social workers, occupational therapists, care managers and doctors who all take a joined up approach to supporting our patients and carers, utilising a whole range of skills.

“Our patient demographic means we work closely alongside carers and families as well as our patients which is really rewarding. 

“Our workload is increasing as we currently have an ageing population who live longer. More people are also receiving a diagnosis of Dementia earlier on, which is good on one hand, as we are then able offer treatments sooner and ensure people get the support they need - but on the other it means our caseloads are extensive. 

“This is my first Band 7 role and it is a huge job! At times it can feel overwhelming, as if there are not enough hours in the day, but this is the nature of the job. I have been on a steep learning curve and still am. Working for the NHS means working in an environment where everyone is committed to achieving the best outcome for the patient – and cares about this. I feel privileged to lead my team; it is very different role leading a team and stepping back from clinical work, but I gain satisfaction hearing from practitioners about their patient contacts and seeing the enthusiasm they have for it. I also step in and see patients where I can.

“I came into the NHS after a period working in the voluntary sector. My first NHS post was as a community support worker in a Community Mental Health Team at Mill View Hospital in 2000.  I then applied to be a Resource Manager in an accommodation team, working with working age mental health clients promoting independent living.  

“I was fortunate to gain a secondment to university through Sussex Partnership Trust to train to be a Mental Health Nurse. I have now worked for the NHS for 17 years. I absolutely loved my nurse training and enjoyed placements at Mill View Hospital and Neville Hospital in Hove. I fell pregnant in my last year of studying so had to take a break but was able to finish my course after maternity leave. 

“I was lucky to be able to get flexible shifts on Caburn Ward at Millview in my first nursing post as a first time mum. When I was pregnant with my second child I was seconded to East Brighton Day Hospital. I was interested in the therapeutic group work this service offered, and really enjoyed this job. On my return to work after my second child, I applied for a Band 6 post within the Crisis Resolution and Hone Treatment team; this was a brilliant but challenging role – and I learnt a lot. Again I was fortunate to have fixed shifts so I could work around my family. 

“In my current role I may not have the patient contact that I did previously but I work closely alongside the team and help make decisions that can ultimately change someone’s life. It’s a big responsibility but also a great honour. 

“People don’t come to the NHS for the money, it’s a vocation, they believe in it and they are passionate. The people we work for and the people we work with stand out. My colleagues take on the roles they do because caring for people and ensuring people have a quality service is enormously important to us. We face a lot of challenges, particularly in today’s very stretched NHS but we hold a shared vision. 

“The shared vision of being committed to providing the best possible care to our patients - what that means to us is what makes working for the NHS very special. That, and the pension!”