Havering’s nurses will now be trained in both mental and physical health thanks to ground-breaking scheme

First generation rotational nurse Sally Barbrook, Nelft's rotational nurse lead Paul Chesnaye and ro

First generation rotational nurse Sally Barbrook, Nelft's rotational nurse lead Paul Chesnaye and rotational nurse Kate Channells at Goodmayes Hospital, Barley Lane, Goodmayes. - Credit: Matt Lund (Nelft)

Nurses across the borough now have the opportunity to be trained in both mental and physical health simultaneously in a ground-breaking new training scheme.

The North East London NHS Foundation Trust (Nelft), who are responsible for mental health services in Havering, has implemented a “rotational nurses” programme

The Recorder met practice facilitator and Nelft rotational nurse lead Paul Chesnaye at Nelft’s Goodmayes Hospital headquarters in Barley Lane, Goodmayes, to discuss the innovative new scheme.

“Historically there has been a separation, it’s always been this is mental health and this is physical health and never the twain shall meet,” he said.

“Now, with the NHS’s five-year forward plan there’s more of a focus on the integration of services and this seems to be a good way of doing that.”

The trust’s first rotational nurse programme started in September 2013 and saw three registered nurses sign up to be trained across disciplines.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said first generation rotational nurse Sally Barbrook.

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“You get into nursing to care for people, and by being made competent in both mental and physical healthcare you’re able to provide more holistic care for the people who need it.

“What we’re trying to do here is break down the barriers and hopefully create a more integrated service.”

The training ensures nurses are trained to “dual-competency”, meaning they have studied a mix of mental and physical health and are able to put both sets of skills into practice on a day-to-day basis.

Mr Chesnaye said: “An important aspect of the training is that it also gives some weight to how the nurse feels.

“It’s not just a supervisor coming down once to watch them do something and then signing it off, the programme is designed so that the nurses have to feel competent themselves before they’re signed off.”

The programme’s second generation of 16 rotational nurses are now in training, with both registered mental health nurses and adult nurses applying.

“It makes sense, because a patient’s mental health and their physical health are linked,” Mr Chesnaye continued.

“If you’re admitted to hospital with a serious illness, that is going to cause anxiety and affect your mental health, and if you’re depressed, you’re going to take less good care of your physical wellbeing.

“The bottom line is we’re trying to improve the patient experience by giving nurses the tools to carry out both mental health and adult health checks at the same time.

“For me to be involved in something like this – it has been an absolute privilege.”