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Sussex nurses to spend day with health secretary

Two nurses are due to swap their wards for Westminster, after being invited to shadow health secretary Jeremy Hunt for a day.

The invitation resulted from Mr Hunt spending a morning working as a housekeeper at Worthing Hospital during a visit to officially open an £8m clinical block there in March.

During the visit to West Sussex Hospitals Trust, ward sister Evie Beattie took the chance to ask Mr Hunt if he would return the favour and let her go to his usual place of work as well. As a result she will travel up to Westminster on 8 October.

Ms Beattie said: “This all came about during his visit, when he was a housekeeper for the morning. I asked to shadow him – after all, he came to work on my ward so I thought it was only fair to see what he did as well!

“The plan is for us to be met by his secretary in the morning and shown around, while he is in Cabinet, and then we will accompany him for his meetings and for a speech later on,” she said. “I’m really excited about it.”

Ms Beattie will be accompanied by colleague Ashlee Metcalfe who was a matron at the time of the ministerial visit, but has since been appointed patient safety and risk manager.

Earlier this year Mr Hunt announced that every Department of Health civil servant would be required to spend time working on the NHS frontline in order to learn about patient needs and staff pressures.

The move formed part of the government’s initial response to the Francis report into care failing at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust.

In April Mr Hunt also did a stint in Watford General Hospital’s accident and emergency department, undertaking roles including cleaning, portering and observing clinical work.

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