People's History of the NHS


Portrait of Janice Nelson

I work for Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust as a clinical procurement specialist nurse.

My role involves clinical engagement with clinicians: when a product is being evaluated or if there’s a product that we may consider changing because it’s more cost-effective for the Trust to procure then we will facilitate that process. - Although I’m employed by SWBH Trust I work across the Black Country alliance.

My nursing training started in 1985, I qualified in 1988 and I’ve worked for the NHS for 33 years. I started my nurse training at East Birmingham Hospital, which is now Heartlands Hospital.

I worked on an ENT (ear nose and throat) ward for about six months, and then I applied to do my midwifery training over at the Women’s Hospital 1989-1990.

Midwifery was my first love, although I left in 1995 to do my health visitor training which I found that I could work around my family then (flexibility) - but I love health visiting. I worked as a health visitor from ‘95 til 2004.

When I did my health visiting training that was a degree so I got a BSc Honours specialist certificate in public health. In 1998 I completed my masters in public health - that was amazing that was a course that I really wanted to use as I’d felt a bit restricted in health visiting and so I went and spoke to a director of nursing at the time and she was really trying to champion public health specialists, within health visiting, within nursing really. So she asked me to sit on an immunisation public health board at the time. And then, just through that, I got a post as immunisation coordinator so I Ieft health visiting in 2004, worked as a public health programme manager for three years.

I saw the opportunity to do some consultancy work for the work that I championed. We were really successful; we managed immunisation programmes, public health programmes, huge success. NHS London, the Department of Health kind of recognised our work so I thought I’ll take this step a little bit further. So I left the NHS for five years, did some consultancy work.

In 2012 when the whole NHS landscape changed and they weren’t commissioning consultants I came back into clinical work, went back into health visiting and then I came to work for Sandwell in 2004 as an immunisation nurse. I then managed a team - Oh gosh I feel as though I’ve left and done so much! (giggles) - then the surface was tendered and came over to Birmingham and so I then worked as a family nurse, which is, a specialist nurse role, working with vulnerable, pregnant teenagers. I loved that. That was really a special time for me.

So that was for two years, as a fixed term contract. So when two years finished I thought you know what, I’d like to come back to project management, and then worked for the improvement team as a project manager. I did that for a year and here I am as procurement specialist nurse.

So during my time in the NHS I’ve got three professional qualifications as a nurse, midwife, as a specialist practitioner in public health: as a health visitor. I’m a nurse prescriber. I’ve got my masters degree. I’ve also got my prince II practitioner qualification. I’ve just completed my lean six sigma...

I do love nursing! This role (current role as a procurement specialist nurse) enables me to do the nursing clinical engagement but also do the project management, so I absolutely love what I’m doing...

I feel very passionate about empowering nurses to do the best that they can do, particularly black nurses ‘cause I don’t know if we always get the same opportunities as our white European counterparts - and I don’t say that glibly. So I really feel very passionate about empowering people, if there’s courses that I’ve done - to be honest - I empower and tell everybody ‘do lean, I’ve just done lean, do prince II, do your masters!’ Do your Stepping Up Programme.

So I met Donna, (Donna Mighty, commissioner of the Here To Stay exhibition) Donna worked down the same corridor as me, we’ve become really, really good friends. Donna encouraged me to do the Stepping Up Programme. I was like ‘Ah, I dunno!’ ‘cause I did the Beacon Black Leadership programme in 2004, and that was life changing for me, that was really - wow. Made me open my eyes and broaden my horizons, really. So I thought ‘why not’ and I did the Stepping Up Programme and it was great - and I met the previous Janice (Barrett) that was here before (being photographed).

(c) Photographer: INÈS ELSA DALAL

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