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'The CNOs for Wales have both been very supportive of the independent sector'

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Sarah Lloyd-Davies, a clinical manager in the independent sector, has a major influence on healthcare in Wales

The news that clinical commissioning groups will have to include a nurse has been welcomed by the profession.

But having the power to influence nursing as a whole and healthcare policy is nothing new to Sarah Lloyd-Davies, head of clinical services at Spire Cardiff Hospital. She understands the importance of working with senior nurses, healthcare officials and the Welsh Assembly Government to put nursing and patients first.

“We may not have the same processes that the NHS has in England, but our size does mean that we are easily able to have contact with our chief nursing officer for Wales. I have colleagues in England who can’t believe that I am able to have such close contact with the CNO in Wales and can freely discuss policies in relation to healthcare.”

Ms Lloyd-Davies’s appetite for nursing was whetted at an early age. Visiting her sick father when she was 13, she was impressed by the nurses.

“I knew right then and there that was the path I wanted to take in life,” she says. After qualifying as an enrolled nurse, her career has taken her through roles in England and Wales. She was seconded to work at the Royal Marsden as a registered nurse while undertaking a diploma in breast care. She then worked her way up to become a matron for the Bupa (now Spire) hospital in Tunbridge wells, Kent.

“I always wanted to gain more knowledge and be more involved in decisions that made a difference to the patient, so I did a conversion course from enrolled nurse to registered nurse with diploma at the Wealden College of Health and Social Studies in Crawley in West Sussex, then became really interested in leadership and management,” she says.

After working in English hospitals since 1993, she moved back to Wales with her family in 2006, and has worked at Spire Cardiff Hospital ever since.

She is an advocate for the independent sector and has sat as chair of the Welsh Independent Healthcare Association - Nursing Group for four years, a role she is sad to relinquish this summer.

It is this role that has enabled her to assist with shaping government policy and national standards, and put her in close contact with the CNOs - Rosemary Kennedy until she retired last year, and now Jean White.

“The CNOs for Wales have both been very supportive of the independent sector,” says Ms Lloyd-Davies. “The group works hard to ensure that the independent sector has a voice and we do this by undertaking a lot of work out in the community to publicise our work.

“There are lots of myths about working in the independent sector that I wish we could debunk. Often student nurses come in on placements and can’t believe the technology that we have - they do not normally expect that in a private hospital. They are under the impression that we just do check-ups or one-day surgery, and don’t believe we have intensive care units and the resources to provide quality care in the way that we do.

“But the independent sector sees and treats over 150,000 patients a year across Wales, employs 2,000 staff and generates around £100m a year for the Welsh economy, investing over £10-£15m a year in healthcare developments.”

Wales has already moved to degree-only entry nursing. Ms Lloyd-Davies has always valued the huge impact that training can have on both her and her staff, so continuously ensures they are supported with this.

While she appreciates that some days are harder than others to provide superior care, she continues to show her patients how zealous she is about nursing.

“It is important that the patients know we value them,” she says. “You must be passionate about what you do if you nurse, and stick at it, as well as be a loyal advocate to that role.”

Ms Lloyd-Davies says that it may seem odd to some people that her role is more about operational management than hands-on clinical care, but she feels it allows her to contribute to providing quality healthcare.

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