Pioneering nursing scheme in Havering aims to ‘break down barriers’

Rotational nurse Sally Barbrook, Nelft's rotational nurse lead Paul Chesnaye and rotational nurse Ka

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 caring for people with mental health problems can now be trained in both mental and physical health simultaneously in a groundbreaking new scheme.

The North East London NHS Foundation Trust (Nelft), which is responsible for mental health services in Havering, has introduced a new “rotational nurses” programme.

The Recorder met 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’ 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 began in September 2013 and saw three registered nurses sign up to be trained across disciplines.

“You get into nursing to care for people,” said rotational nurse Sally Barbrook, one of the three to originally take part.

Most Read

“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.

“We’re trying to break down barriers and hopefully create a more integrated service.”

The training ensures nurses are made “dual-competent”, meaning they study a mix of mental and physical health and are able to put both sets of skills into practice day-to-day.

Mr Chesnaye said: “An important aspect of the training is 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 wave 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.

“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.”