Critical care nurse explains why she has rejoined Stevenage hospital’s growing ‘NHS army’

Senior sister and nurse trainer Amanda Radford has come out of retirement to work at Stevenage’s Lis

Senior sister and nurse trainer Amanda Radford has come out of retirement to work at Stevenage’s Lister Hospital. Picture: East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust - Credit: Archant

A number of former NHS staff are returning to hospitals across Hertfordshire, to support colleagues and care for patients during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Comet has interviewed a former NHS employee, who joined thousands across the country who have come out of retirement to help in the fight against the COVID-19 outbreak.

58–year–old Amanda Radford, from Shefford, is back working at Stevenage’s Lister Hospital as a senior sister and nurse educator, working in critical care.

In this interview, she explains why she decided to return to the frontline less than three years after retiring.

Q: Why did you want to return to the NHS?

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A: “Although I was on NHS Professionals [an organisation which supplies temporary staff to the NHS] and did occasional resuscitation training sessions, at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak I understood the implications this would have on critical care – my specialist area – so I wanted to help in a more permanent capacity.

“Some of my old colleagues had asked if I would like to come back to assist, so I did!”

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Q: Is there anything unusual/exciting/surprising that’s happened to you since you came back?

A: “It was amazing how quickly years’ worth of critical care knowledge came back to me.

“I have been teaching redeployed staff about critical care, helping to ease their concerns.

“I have had positive feedback from these sessions and from the sessions on A-E [head to toe] examination skills I have carried out with doctors who are returning to the frontline.”

Q: Tell us a bit about your NHS career before retirement.

A: “Prior to retiring in June 2017, I worked in the NHS for 37 years.

“36 of those were in different critical care units including St Mary’s Hospital and Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, where I completed a university paediatric intensive care course, and Bristol Royal Infirmary – where I undertook my adult critical care course spending time in general, cardiothoracic, neurological and renal critical unit areas.

“For 27 years of my career, up until my retirement, I was working in Lister Hospital’s critical care unit in various roles.

“I was a sister, senior sister, and a clinical nurse educator. During this time I also completed a BSc honours degree in critical care.”

Q: And what were you doing before you came back?

A: “I kept myself busy by going to my local Bannatyne gym and I was learning Italian at the Hitchin Language Centre. I was also travelling, visiting cities in Italy and other parts of Europe.”

Q: What would your message be to those in your field who are considering a return to the NHS?

A: “Once a nurse, always a nurse. It’s your chance to care for those who need us.”

Ex–NHS employees, who may have retired or changed career, have taken both paid and volunteer roles in clinical areas at East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, playing an important part in the local response to the virus.

All those returning to join this growing ‘NHS army’ – with 96 nursing and medical professionals now back at the trust alone – have been given a full induction and training to help them hit the ground running.

Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, previously said that more than 7,500 former NHS staff have responded to the government’s call to rejoin the health service.

At a briefing in the House of Commons at the start of March, Mr Hancock said: “7,563 clinicians have so far answered our call to return to work, including members of this house, and I want to pay tribute to every single one of them.”

According to The Guardian, this total included approximately 5,600 nurses and 1,900 doctors.

By March 30, Boris Johnson was thanking the 20,000 retired staff who returned to work, describing it as an “amazing thing.”

Alongside former staff, approximately 750,000 members of the public signed up to volunteer for the NHS.

Have you worked for the East and North Herts NHS trust as an allied health professional, clinical support worker, health care assistant, nurse or midwife or an administrator in a clinical setting previously and want to return to work?

If so, the trust want to hear from you. Contact them via email at to discuss your options, including flexible hours to suit you.

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