Professor Dame Hilary Chapman, chief nurse at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation, has announced she will retire in August this year, after 32 years of nursing.
She is one of the country’s most prominent chief nurses, and is credited with making major contributions to health policy, healthcare delivery and system reform.
“There is no better career than nursing and to lead such a fantastic team of nurses and midwives is an absolute privilege and joy”
Most notably, she co-led the development of the Safer Nursing Care Tool with Professor Katherine Fenton.
The toolkit is now used widely across the UK and helps determine safe nurse staffing levels on acute wards.
Dame Hilary trained as a nurse in Sheffield in the 1980s, and then went on to work at the Northern General Hospital as a staff nurse in cardiothoracic surgery and a critical care sister.
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Prior to returning to Sheffield in 2006, she was chief nurse at Kettering General Hospital and also University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire Trust.
She was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the Queen’s New Year honours and was awarded a CBE for her services to nursing in the New Year’s honours list in 2012.
“We have been very fortunate to have one of the best chief nurses in the NHS supporting our trust”
She is also a visiting professor at Sheffield Hallam University, an honorary doctor of medicine at the University of Sheffield and became a deputy lieutenant of South Yorkshire last year.
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals is one of the UK’s largest foundation trusts, with over 17,000 staff caring for over two million patients each year at our five hospitals and in the local community.
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Its main sites are the Royal Hallamshire Hospital and the Northern General Hospital. It also runs the Charles Clifford Dental Hospital, Weston Park Cancer Hospital and Jessop Wing Maternity Hospital.
At Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, she regularly undertakes at least one clinical shift every month, which she describes as being “one of the most important and valuable things” she does.
Professor Dame Hilary Chapman
Dame Hilary said: “The decision to retire has been a hard one, because there is no better career than nursing and to lead such a fantastic team of nurses and midwives here at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals is an absolute privilege and joy.
“I have only been able to achieve the things I have because I have worked with incredible teams throughout my working life,” said Dame Hilary.
“A good nurse and leader is shaped by those that he or she works alongside and is inspired by,” she said. “I have been very fortunate to work with some of the best both locally and nationally. The opportunities for nurses and midwives now have never been more varied or exciting.
“Of course, there are challenges but at the end of the day there is nothing more satisfying than knowing you have made a difference to someone who is often at their most vulnerable,” she said.
“Our nurses and midwives deserve our respect and appreciation for all that they do, day in and day out right across the NHS,” she stated.
She added: “I will miss all of my colleagues and friends at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals and those who have become respected colleagues throughout my whole career. However, I am also looking forward to enjoying a new chapter in my life which I am sure will bring new experiences and opportunities.”
“The example that she sets as a highly visible nurse leader is an inspiration to all of us”
Trust chief executive Sir Andrew Cash said: “We have been very fortunate to have one of the best chief nurses in the NHS supporting our trust, ensuring we deliver the best possible nursing and midwifery care to over two million patients every year.
“As well as Hilary’s longstanding contribution to the nursing profession locally and nationally, she is an exceptional leader whose impact reaches far beyond nursing,” he said. “Patients are at the centre of everything Hilary does and she is regularly seen working on the wards or in our community services to learn about the work teams are doing or how care is being delivered.
“The example that she sets as a highly visible nurse leader is an inspiration to all of us. Nationally she is widely recognised as one of the top clinical leaders within the NHS, but to so many people including myself she is also a trusted advisor and valued friend,” he added.
“Hilary is an exemplary nurse leader who has contributed locally, nationally and internationally”
National nurse leaders also paid tribute to Dame Hilary, in particularly focusing on her leadership skills and her legacy.
Professor Jane Cummings, chief nursing officer for England, said: “Hilary is an exemplary nurse leader who has contributed locally, nationally and internationally to our profession.
“She has a huge amount of skill, knowledge and expertise and is respected by nurses and midwives across England. She will be sorely missed but I would like to take this opportunity to thank Hilary for all she has done, pay tribute to her and wish her well in her retirement,” said Professor Cummings.
Ruth May, executive director of nursing at NHS Improvement and deputy chief nursing officer for England, added: “We are going to lose a legend!”
Janet Davies, Royal College of Nursing’s chief executive and general secretary, said: “Hilary has been a strong role model for nurses and her leadership has made a real difference to nursing care as well as supporting and developing leaders of the future.”