The deputy chief nursing officer for England has announced she is to stand down, less than six months after taking up the role.
Liz Redfern, who is also regional director of nursing for the NHS England South region, will leave the two roles next spring after more than 30 years in the profession.
Addressing the chief nursing officer’s summit in Birmingham this week, Ms Redfern said it had been a “difficult” and “deeply personal decision”.
She said: “I had to think about can I be me without being the CNO of something?”
Her position as chief nurse for the south of England was extended to include deputising for chief nursing officer Jane Cummings in June this year.
Ms Redfern was previously director of nursing at NHS South West from 2006 until the strategic health authorities were abolished under the Health and Social Care Act reforms.
In a very personal speech to the summit, Ms Redfern revealed she had only started to feel she was good enough to do her job in the past couple of years.
She said she had felt “squashed” by the pace setting style of leadership in places she had worked at in the past and was more suited towards a collaborative approach.
“I have worked in some very pace setting organisations… I can do that but it’s probably not my style,” she said.
Ms Redfern, who was given the CNO award for lifetime achievement at this year’s Nursing Times awards, plans to do more coaching work and some consultancy when she steps down. She also revealed she had started writing poetry.
She added: “I’m doing something different. That can confuse people, they want to read things into it that may not be there.”
Ms Redfern joined the NHS in 1970 as a cadet nurse and then qualified in general and paediatric nursing in 1974.