Come back to nursing

Former mental health nurses are being encouraged back into nursing at Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust – where retraining will cost nothing and there’s a £500 bonus payment when the course is completed.

The Trust, which runs mental health and learning disabilities services for all ages in Sussex as well as services for children and young people in Hampshire, is encouraging former mental health nurses of all ages back into the profession as part of its bid to recruit 150 new nurses to work in Hampshire and Sussex. 

All fees are covered and £500 is paid to nurses on successful completion of the Return to Practice course.

Kate Stammers, A Nurse Consultant at Sussex Partnership, returned to nursing in 2008 after a 6 year break raising her two sons, and hasn’t looked back.

Kate, 42, from Lewes, said: “I remember saying to my husband, ‘I can’t do this, it’s going to be too difficult, I’ve been out too long’ but I was supported by Sussex Partnership Foundation Trust every step of the way and it’s amazing how quickly it all comes back. I can’t imagine not having this job as a part of my life, and part of my identity now.

“I think people go into nursing because they’re a certain type of person and that never leaves you, no matter how long you might have spent away from the job.”

Return to Practice courses are split between classroom learning at the University of Brighton and clinical placements at Sussex Partnership at lots of different locations and within lots of different services. Participants can normally chose where they do their placements and the Trust offers flexible and part time working. There is no age limit and it doesn’t matter how long you have been away from nursing.

Kate said: “I was worried that my kids might lose out by me returning but the flexibility offered by the Trust means I still get to pick them up and they are so proud of me. They say to me ’I love the fact that you help people mum’.”

Kate first qualified as a mental health nurse in the ‘90s in London where she worked specialising in a number of roles with children and adults who suffered from eating disorders before moving to Sussex.

‘I never really planned for what would happen after my kids started school. . I did some bank work nursing, I did some waitressing and I even ran my own tanning salon but I did always miss nursing.

“Being able to help someone when they are really struggling, being able to sit with them and listen to them at one of the most difficult times in their lives and being able to help them is a real privilege. You get to see so much of life in mental health nursing, it really is so special.”

Kate is now a consultant nurse, supporting more than 150 nurses in the Trust’s Children and Young People’s services, perinatal services and early intervention in psychosis services.

“I was really nervous when I started back.  I remember sitting in a meeting being surrounded by all these really professional people. I felt overwhelmed but I also felt really inspired. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to do it and that things had moved on too much while I had been away but you get back into it so quickly and now I am the one running those meetings. 

“It’s a really challenging time to be working in the NHS but there is such a sense of everyone pulling together to do what they can and when you join the trust you join a whole new nursing community and we are there to support each other. 

If you are a former mental health nurse who is interested in returning to the profession, find out more at https://www.sussexpartnership.nhs.uk/return-to-nursing.