John Fillis returns to the NHS to Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Trust

03 July 2020

John retired as a self-employed Cognitive Behavioural Therapist in 2018. His last role in the NHS was working at Ashworth Hospital, Maghull, for 30 years, up to 2014. He recently returned to the NHS to take up a role at Springview Hospital. 

“I was content in retirement, enjoying my new life with family and friends, while helping others as much as I could. But the realisation of the devastating force of COVID-19 was going to roll over our country, the big question for me was: 'What am I going to do about it?'

“So, when the announcement came that they were looking for nurses to come back to work, there was no soul searching or weighing up the pros and cons. It was simple, the answer was yes. None of my family or friends where surprised in fact they were quite relaxed about it.

“I’m no hero and I’m certainly not an angel. I was a professional with over 35 years’ experience and basic skills to help people through this devastating time and support our community’s recovery. The real heroes to me are the shop staff, posties’, volunteers, homeworkers, drivers and many more people just getting on regardless of the difficulties they face every day keeping our communities running."

John last worked on a ward 6 years ago, despite continuing with Cognitive Behavioral Psychotherapy work.

“My biggest concern was could I cope with the physical and mental strain of returning to nursing. We all realise the dangers involved working on the front line with COVID-19, its frightening, but my greatest fear was letting people down, I did not want to be a burden. I wanted not just to work but to add to the nursing teams I would be working with.

“The speed and support I received during every step of my return to work was astounding. They did not just move me on, they checked that I was happy with what was happening, giving me feedback while providing me with options and advise in such a warm and friendly manner. That gave me confidence to continue.

"I undertook an online Statutory and Mandatory Certificate as well as reading mountains of reports regarding COVID-19, I also attend training days with the trusts. All this in preparation for the day I stepped back on to a ward.

"I chose the challenge of working within a completely different care environment that would keep me sharp, while adding to my practice. I looked up the Springview Unit on the internet, planned my route to Clatterbridge Hospital and prepared my bag, lunch and clothes the night before. Lots of things had gone through my mind on my way to the unit. I settled for turn up and don’t do anything stupid, which I’m please to say I achieved. All the staff were absolutely fantastic with me; nurses, doctors, occupational therapist, psychologist, domestic and porters. Watching them all working round the ward was amazing as I passed from one to another, learning the policies and procedures that provided the safety and security to deliver excellent patient care. All of this while wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

"Over the last month they have all helped me through my ignorance, answering all my questions and watched over me during my wobbles. For some reason their initial thought was that I had come from the community health team. When they found out I have come out of retirement they were surprised and even thanked me for coming back to help. It’s such a positive and friendly place and we have a great laugh. I’ve not stopped smiling since I started work there.

"It is hard, hot work in the PPE, which really does irritate the skin behind the ears and across the nose. The constant washing, sterilizing and gloving of hands really dries them out so I now use aqua cream constantly. The patients have been tolerant of me and the new precautions that have had to be introduced, they understand and appreciate that this is for the good of everyone. I often apologise to the patients for the way we have to work in recognition of what they must be going through.

"I am now a professional and proud to be working in our NHS with some of the greatest staff this country has ever seen. Many nursing colleges can’t come back, they have retired for good reason and the health of others has unfortunately deteriorated since retirement preventing them from returning. We all have to consider are own circumstances and make our own decisions. It’s not about being brave, its ability that counts. The ability of those around us to help us make the right choice. Every email I received and person I’ve spoken to and worked with, has given me the confidence to say I made the right choice. If you’re thinking about returning to the NHS you have already taken the first step. Keep safe, keep smiling." 

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