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CNO Bulletin April 2022


A message from the CNO - Tracey Brigstock

Welcome to April’s edition of the CNO Bulletin.

Even though we’re still a few weeks away from appraisals getting underway, this time of year offers all of us a chance to think about how we want to continue our professional development and grow as individuals at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust.

That’s why I’m so pleased to introduce Practice Development Lead Sally Higgins, as well as Clinical Education Facilitator Merin Achankunju, as part of Getting to Know Our Nursing Team.

This month we will also highlight the remarkable volunteering work of Matthew Burden, our Modern Matron for Gastro, and celebrate the successes of all our nurses and midwives after marking the submission of our Pathway to Excellence® Document of Evidence with a special event.

As we also celebrate our recent DAISY Award winners, I’d like to share how we can celebrate the colleagues around us and give them the recognition which they deserve.


In This Issue


Getting to know our nursing team: Sally Higgins & Merin Achankunju

Sally Higgins, Practice Development Lead

I embarked on my nursing career in Leicester, my home town, qualifying in 1996. My first job was on a very busy acute medical ward which specialised in the management of patients with diabetes and other endocrinology conditions. I enjoyed this introduction to nursing but wanted to further develop my acute skills.

With that in mind, I moved to UHCW in 1998 to work on the General Intensive Care Unit (the old C2ITU), where I worked for the next 21 years. I progressed during that time, and spent the last 5 years of my career on GCCU as a Band 7 Training and Development Sister where I combined working clinically with supporting our nursing team (from students, to experienced qualified staff) in developing their knowledge and skills to ensure that we provided high quality, evidence based care.

Throughout my nursing career I have been passionate about the education and development of all nursing staff and about the impact that this has on a positive practice environment and, ultimately, the quality of care that is delivered to our patients. So when an opportunity arose in 2019 to apply for a role in the Practice Development team, it was too good to miss. The team, I have found, are equally as passionate about education and development at all stages of nursing careers (from Pre-Registration through to continuing professional development) as I have been and this was an ideal opportunity to pursue this part of my role on a full time basis. As part of the team I have contributed to many education and development projects for multiple areas of the Trust; these have included leading the up skilling of staff in preparation for deployment to Critical Care at the height of the pandemic, supporting the opening of the surgical EPOC with the development and delivery of a comprehensive training and competency programme , and, my proudest achievement so far, the production and implementation of the Registered Nurse Development Programme which we hope will support the establishment of the next generation of nurse leaders in the organisation.

I am now in the privileged position to be leading the Practice Development team and feel proud to work alongside a passionate, enthusiastic and dedicated group of professionals who are driven by the belief that the key to safe quality care is to have a happy, skilled, knowledgeable, supported and valued nursing workforce. This is demonstrated through our work  supporting our pre-registration nurses and nursing associates and the clinical teams who provide their practice placements, leading the Internationally Educated Nurse OSCE programme (enabling our IEN’s to progress to NMC registration), providing a comprehensive Preceptorship programme with clinical and pastoral support for the newly qualified nursing staff in practice, being pivotal in supporting the introduction of the Professional Nurse Advocate Role in the organisation, running and supporting the Registered Nurse Development Programme, facilitating the Shared Decision Making Councils which are part of our Pathway to Excellence journey alongside the Daisy Award programme, as well as providing clinically based knowledge and skills training which includes mental health and learning disabilities training, IV Drug administration, venepuncture and cannulation and the Acute Illness Management (AIM) course to name a few. And this is only part of what we do. We have other projects in the pipeline which will focus on career development opportunities and advice as well as further clinical skills offerings to support our nursing workforce. We are keen to know what our nurses and nursing associates need to help them to achieve their goals or to fulfil their roles day to day - so please have a look at our prospectus on the intranet and speak to us about what else we could offer to support you.

I am proud of our nursing workforce and their resilience and continued passion for patient care in the face of so many challenges in recent years.  Practice Development is, in summary, all about providing education, support mechanisms and development pathways which contribute to a positive practice environment to enable our nurses and nursing associates to continue to provide that excellent, safe, quality care to the best of their ability, whilst also providing our nurses and nursing associates with access to career development pathways that will allow them to fulfil their potential. And I am looking forward to leading the team in this exciting agenda in the year ahead.

Merin Achankunju, Clinical Education Facilitator

I was born and raised in Kerala, a state in the Southern part of India. I completed my nursing studies in India and possess both Bachelor and Master Degree in Nursing. After my qualification, I started my nursing career in India.

Ever since my childhood, I always knew that I wanted to live and work abroad for a good period of my life. I chose to work in the UK for multiple reasons. First of all, moving to England seemed to be a good opportunity to gain experience in working in a different country and also I felt proud to work for National Health System. Secondly, from a practical standpoint the UK was a good fit for education and upbringing of my kids. Lastly, I always fell in love with the beauty and serenity of the places here, so I wanted to live and experience the life here. Eventually, on a chilly morning of 18th April 2018, I landed in this country for the first time which felt like dream come true moment in my life. Although the decision to leave my two kids aged 4 years and 11 months old back home was one of the toughest decision I have ever made in my life, when I look back today I am sure that all the pain and struggles have well paid off.

It was very exciting to move across to the UK, at the same time it was very daunting and anxiety inducing as I was moving from my own little world to a completely different world. The main challenge during the initial days was to pass OSCE as the final step of NMC registration to get my PIN number. The preparation for OSCE delivered by UHCW was well structured and goal focused. With a decent amount of training and hard work I passed OSCE on the first attempt and got my PIN number.

As I had previous experience of working in medical ward, initially I was allocated to Geriatric ward. In the beginning I found it really difficult in adapting into new society, people, culture and new systems. The language was the biggest problem however; I took initiative for my own learning and broke the barrier ahead of me. It was a great experience to work in such a huge ward which gave me an opportunity to explore the UK standards, policies, protocols and improve my communication skills.

There after I moved into PACU, which is a very dynamic and challenging department with vast opportunities to learn and develop. Every day was a chance to utilise my skills, refine my knowledge and improve myself. I was lucky enough to have a supportive and inspiring manager from whom I learned one of the most important lessons, that nursing as a profession has no limits and to never consider that we have reached the finish line. We should be learning all our lives.

I have always had a passion towards teaching and wanted to move into an education role where I can bring out my true potential as an educator. My passion for teaching stems from the personal satisfaction I obtain by helping someone learn something new and by making a big difference in their life. When an opportunity came within the Practice Development Team, for the role of a Clinical Education Facilitator (for Internationally Educated Nurses), I felt that it was the right time for me to pursue advancement in my job role and achieve the change I was seeking. When I was offered the position, I was very excited about the opportunity because it is what I always wanted to do. Although I am fairly new into this role, I am sure that I made the right choice as I am thoroughly enjoying each and every bit of my new responsibility by supporting the development and successful placement of overseas nurses through facilitating OSCE programme. I am looking forward to being involved in various projects within Practice Development Team, positively influencing new staff and working towards improving the quality of learning environment within the trust.

Pathway to Excellence® Document Submission Celebration Event

Friday the 8th April saw the exciting celebration of the recent milestone on our Pathway to Excellence® journey, the submission of our Pathway Document of Evidence!

Chief Nursing Officer Tracey Brigstock welcomed staff from across the organisation in celebration and recognition of the contributions made towards this part of our journey.

Nurses, midwives and AHPs from the Pathway to Excellence® writing group and colleagues who have supported the data collection for our submission were recognised and thanked for their valued commitment.

Following the event, celebrations continued in the Atrium with a Pathway to Excellence® photo booth! 2022 is the year of our Pathway Submission and Survey, so to mark the occasion we have launched the Pathway to Excellence® Yearbook! All staff are invited to contribute to the yearbook by describing what Pathway to Excellence® means to them, it’ll be coming to an area near you soon!

We're excited to use this month's CNO Bulletin to launch a new Pathway to Excellence® video, where nursing and midwifery staff from across the organisation share what excellence means to them. You can watch the new video below and share what excellence means to you on Twitter using hash tag #ExcellenceAtUHCW and tagging @UHCWP2E.


Volunteer spotlight: Matthew Burden

My current role is Modern Matron for the Gastro speciality. I have been a registered nurse for 30 years, initially working as a newly–qualified staff nurse in Gastro.  Having worked for the last 17 years as both a Ward Manager and then Modern Matron in Acute Medicine I returned to my grassroots in Gastro in August last year.  My role involves ensuring quality and safe nursing care across the speciality.  As a nurse leader I am responsible for continually improving patient care.  Central to this involves investing in the staff I manage and giving them the support they need to help us achieve improvements as a team – in football terms my role is all about ‘people management’.

Volunteering role

I volunteer as a football manager for an under 14s team.

I am a FA accredited level 1 coach, and also work as the child welfare officer for the club. Our team values inclusivity and equal opportunity - we believe that ‘football is for all’ and are immensely proud to be the only team in the league at present who has two girls as players.

My role involves marking pitches, running training sessions on Thursdays, attending league meetings and managing matches every Sunday.

As the named child welfare officer I am responsible for ensuring that our responsibilities as a club are communicated and understood, and I support club personnel to recognise that safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility and encourage them to actively play their part.

I am often a sounding board for the children, and I help to emphasise the importance of working hard at school. Being part of the club helps teach the children self-discipline and the importance of team working, and builds their self-confidence.

As a coach it is important that I create a supportive environment, giving the children space to thrive; encouraging their development and providing them with a positive and fun experience.

What do you enjoy most about your volunteering work?

I have been passionate about football my whole life and the volunteering helps me to relax away from work – although coaching my son can sometimes be a nightmare because we are both so similar!

It takes 5,000 steps and about 1 ¾ hours to mark a pitch – it is very satisfying to see the perfect straight lines of a well-marked pitch by the end of it all!

In many ways I see my volunteering work as similar to aspects of my day job – both involve taking a coaching approach; I take pride in helping to get the best out of people which is something I find very rewarding in both of my roles.



As we enter into Spring with the promise of sunshine and warmer days, the prestigious DAISY awards are continuing in full force at UHCW. The DAISY awards team continue to receive heartfelt nomination submissions for our Nurses and Midwives, sent in by our patients and their relatives.

So far, a staggering 52 of our Nurses and Midwives have been the deserving honourees of a prestigious DAISY award!

Well done to everyone who has received a DAISY nomination and Congratulations to our latest honourees:

  • Kerry Spencer – Registered Midwife ward 24
  • Margo Day – Urology Specialist Nurse
  • Ashleigh King – Registered Nurse Day Surgery Unit, Rugby St Cross
  • Caroline Duignan – Oncology Breast Care Nurse

We look forward to surprising more lucky DAISY award winners in the coming months.


World Class Colleague awards

The World Class Colleague awards were launched in August last year and it offers those colleagues of ours who are unable to be nominated for a DAISY Award to receive the Trust-wide recognition which they deserve.

Since it was launched, more than 450 members of Team UHCW have been nominated for the award.

But these awards don’t just recognise our immediate colleagues. Non-clinical, ISS and Vinci staff can also win a World Class Colleague award, as well as our brilliant volunteers.

All nominees will receive a certificate which recognises their valuable contributions across the Trust, while our two monthly winners also receive a special pin badge and will be automatically considered for the OSCAs 2022.

You can access the nomination form here.


Launch of the 2022/23 West Midlands Clinical Academic Careers Non-Medical Programme

Are you a midwife, nurse, allied health professional, pharmacist or healthcare scientist considering a clinical academic career?

Would you like to increase your research knowledge and skills and work with an experienced researcher?

Birmingham Health Partners (BHP) is pleased to launch the 2022/23 West Midlands Internship Programme, Pre-Doctoral Bridging Programme and Post-Doctoral Bridging Programme. These three programmes are aimed specifically at non-medical professionals for health professionals who aspire to combine research and clinical practice, and develop a clinical academic career.

Closing date for applications is Friday 29th April – midday

For applications and support please contact Gio Bucci ( or Angel Magar (

These programmes are funded by Health Education England (HEE) in the West Midlands and linked into the HEE/National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Integrated Clinical Academic Programme (ICA) for non-medical healthcare professions.


Electronic Patient Record (EPR) Update

Our staff around the trust are now working to develop our new EPR, with a Go-Live scheduled for Spring 2023.

Other than providing direct patient care, EPR will be an important focus for everyone at UHCW moving forwards. This implementation will make such a positive difference to everyone’s experience at work for years to come.

Our new EPR will allow secure access to complete health care records from referral, testing, diagnosis and treatment through to discharge. EPR will remove the need for hand-written notes and forms, and give clinical staff instant access to the patient information they need, wherever they need it.

Video: Introducing EPR at UHCW NHS Trust.

EPR will:

  • Help us provide safer, higher quality care for our patients
  • Improve the day-to-day working experience of all of our staff
  • Free up the administrative time clinical staff spend, so they can focus more on patient care

Learn more about EPR.

If you would like to get involved, you can volunteer as an EPR Champion. We need people across the organisation inside our clinical, operational, administrative and support groups. You’ll spend roughly an hour a week helping us build communication and engagement for the EPR programme. Go to our EPR Champion page on TrustNav to learn more.


West Midlands Clinical Senate Assembly

The West Midlands Clinical Senate is inviting colleagues to apply to join the West Midlands Senate Assembly. This is an exciting opportunity to become part of our long-established membership and take part in many varied opportunities to support system development as well as developing your own clinical leadership skills.

Our Assembly already has a large number of longstanding members. We are very lucky to have high levels of representation across the breadth of the medical community. We highly value all of our members and want to ensure that all professional groups are adequately represented to compliment the richness and diversity already seen in the Assembly. We have recently conducted an audit to look at the composition of our Senate Assembly. Applications from any interested colleagues are very welcome. The Clinical Senate are also particularly targeting the following professional groups to increase representation in these areas:

  • Allied Health Professionals (AHPs)
  • Senior Nurses
  • Consultant Paramedics
  • Mental Health colleagues (particularly nurses)
  • Operations Managers
  • Acute pharmacy

If you would like to find out more about this opportunity, please click here to view their in-depth flyer.


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