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Meet the NHS Blood and Transplant team: Andrea Harris

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NHS Blood and Transplant is a special health authority that provide a blood and transplantation service to the NHS, looking after blood donation services in England and transplant services across the UK. This week, we’re looking at the work of diagnostic and therapeutic services professional nursing lead Andrea Harris

I have been a registered general nurse for over 25 years. After qualifying in 1990, I worked on a variety of medical wards before specialising in haematology/oncology. In 2003 I was drawn to work for NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT).

“I took a deep breath and applied. I have never looked back since”

Andrea Harris

I had seen an advert in the nursing press for a transfusion liaison nurse – this post is now known as patient blood management practitioner. The advert described working at a regional level with hospital based colleagues to implement ‘Better Blood Transfusion’, focussing on the safe and appropriate use of blood.

I had never heard of such a post before, and neither had any of my hospital colleagues. I was intrigued, and so after doing some homework and finding out a bit more about the position, I took a deep breath and applied. I have never looked back since.

My career so far with NHSBT has opened many doors, and allowed me to participate in so many varied activities at local, regional, national and even international levels. I have been supported to develop my ideas, establish wide networks, and to grow myself personally and professionally.

“I have been supported to develop my ideas, establish wide networks, and to grow myself”

I became an active member of the British Blood Transfusion Society (BBTS) and the British Society of Haematology. I am now the honorary secretary for the BBTS, and more recently have been appointed as the nursing representative on the Department of Health’s Advisory Committee for the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs.

In September 2015, quite out of the blue, I saw an advert for the post of professional nursing lead. I was again intrigued. This advert described a directorate role to lead initiatives to support professional development across various NHSBT nursing groups, and also a corporate role working as part of a senior nurse group to develop and deliver a NHSBT nursing strategy.

I again did a bit of homework to find out a bit more, again took a deep breath and applied, and again haven’t looked back since. I love the autonomy of my role, and the opportunity to work with some great colleagues both within NHSBT and across the wider NHS.

NHSBT is a national organisation, with nurses based in various centres and bases across the UK. We do, therefore, have interesting challenges related to teamwork, networking and communication, and a number of innovations have been developed to help manage these, and new initiatives are being explored and planned.

Our NHSBT Nursing Strategy 2016-20 (attached below) was published November 2016, and subsequently the NHS Blood and Transplant’s Nursing Council was formed in July 2017.

“I’m always on the lookout for a new initiative or innovation”

This Nursing Council includes membership from all grades of nurses across all directorates and departments, and has a key role of driving forward the NHS Blood and Transplant Nursing Strategy and providing a ‘nurses voice’.

We are working on a number of initiatives related to recruitment, retention, leadership and communication. NHSBT is a great place to work, and these initiatives should help to make it even better.

In the meantime, I am looking forward to further developing my role. I’m always on the lookout for a new initiative or innovation, and who knows what will be round the next corner?!

NHS Blood and Transplant is a special health authority that provide a blood and transplantation service to the NHS, looking after blood donation services in England and transplant services across the UK. This includes managing the donation, storage and transplantation of blood, organs, tissues, bone marrow and stems cells, and researching new treatments and processes. Find out more about nursing careers at NHS Blood and Transplant.

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