As soon as you read the nomination for the Middlestown Medical Centre, you can instantly tell that Tony’s team are an integral part of the Wakefield District community, filled with a passion and genuine love for their job, and respected by patients and peers alike.
The team, recognised with a Conexus General Practice Hero award, have delivered outstanding and uninterrupted care which, last year, led to one of the most successful flu vaccination seasons ever, and has seen countless nursing students rise the ranks following training and education as part of the team.
To find out more about why they are so passionate about what they do, and to chat to them about their nomination and award, I caught up with Tony (practice manager), Karen, Leanne, and Claire (practice nurses), and Tracy the healthcare assistant.
The Flu Vaccination season of 2020
To kick start the interview, I asked the team about one of the specific events mentioned in their nomination, which cited their delivery of one of the most successful ever flu vaccination programmes in Winter 2020.
“For us it’s all in the planning and preparation. Our internal planning meant that we were able to tell patients in advance about what to expect and when to sign up, creating a drive which felt more like a military operation than a community service!”
“Lots of locals commented on how quick and efficient the whole process was, not just on our part as Nurses but from the reception team and supporting staff as well. It was a true team effort. We even had staff jabbing people from the comfort of their cars if they were struggling with mobility. It’s all about offering what support we can to every member of our community.”
Despite the obvious pride held by the team, it was a few words from manager Tony which helped me to realise just how special this team really is…
“This group of Nurses don’t just make up a professional team – they genuinely bounce off each other and come up with ways of making things run smoothly and more easily for the benefit of everyone. That is what stands out above all else – the prep work done in advance matches the scale of the operation, from text notices to opportunistic vaccine offers to passers-by. Everything they do is for the greater good of the community and the team.”
Middlestown’s work with student practice nurses
A key part of the nomination for Middlestown mentioned their work inspiring and educating student nurses of all ages. To get to the bottom of why student nurses are so keen to train with this team, I asked for a few of their top tips or pieces of advice for budding nurses.
“Nursing is the best job in the world – and we truly believe that. Our passion rubs off on our students and breeds a new generation of Nurses who love what they do, like us.”
“The last few months have been tough, but it hasn’t stopped us caring for people. Throughout lockdown we had three nursing students with us who learnt about the value of caring for people, constant communication, and support beyond the immediate problem. We teach students about the potential for career growth in general practice, by showing them that even something like a pandemic doesn’t close down other conditions and challenges – it’s just another thing to add to the list of what we do.”
“Our practice Nurses are the long-term condition experts. They understand how long-term conditions affect patients, with our GPs coming to the nurses for advice on long-term care. It’s such a blended environment to work in.” – Tony.
“Tony’s right – but we’re also the tech experts and the ones that most patients want to talk to about their personal health worries. We’re the octopusof the whole practice! Being a nurse is all about flexibility and adaptability.”
I couldn’t leave without asking the team about the pandemic itself – however, in a nod to the team’s achievement and outstanding levels of care, instead of asking about the challenges, we turned our conversation to the rewards.
Leanne kicked the conversation off…
“For me, it’s been the vaccination programme. I’vet been blown away by how many practice staff have supported our vaccination drive across Wakefield, keen to play their part and go above and beyond over Christmas and ever since. I think I speak for all of us who were there over Christmas when I saw that those first vaccines were delivered at an incredibly emotional time. It was an honour to finally give our patients the ray of hope they needed.”
Karen’s response touched on the way in which the pandemic brought people together and encouraged them to talk about their health worries.
“Our attitude has always been to help people while they are here. If we’re talking to a patient and they mention something else that’s worrying them, we will always do what we can to help them sort it out while they are already with us. For me that’s a huge part of being in this community and is a major factor in the incredible recognition we have received.”
Of course, it’s not all vaccines and injections – even for the most committed of nurses. During my chat with the Middlestown Nursing team I also heard about their tight team spirit and the way they support each other as well as their patients – whether it’s with a hug during a tough shift, or an ice cream from manager Tony at the end of a hot day.
From the team’s nomination:
“We have lived in the area for 36 years and Middlestown Medical Centre is one of the main reasons we don’t want to leave.”
The Team have been awarded the general practice Hero award by Conexus.