Nurse practitioner Laura Seaton tells us more about her role at Hexham General Hospital
“I’ve now worked in the NHS for 19 years after first starting out as an auxiliary at the RVI in Newcastle and working my way up to nurse practitioner here in Hexham.
“I’ve been at Hexham for six years and doing this particular role for around three years. I currently work on elective orthopaedic and general surgery on ward 3,” she says.
Looking to the coming winter Laura will again face one of her biggest challenges – actually getting to work from her home in rural Cumbria which is one of the country’s highest villages at around 1,500 feet. Snow regularly falls and she often has to sleep in the hospital during winter between shifts.
Nurse practitioners are specialist nurses who have had additional training and more medical education to provide advanced nursing care and carry out additional tasks including prescribing medication.
They can assess and examine patients, make a clinical diagnosis and even provide advice and treatment.
“We get to do a lot more with the patients and also have more site responsibility as nurse practitioners here at Hexham out of hours. We also support the medical staff when required as well as all other clinical areas here. This job comes with much more responsibility which is really empowering for nurses.”
“I still work really closely with the ward team but now have a much broader range of clinical skills and also have prescribing responsibilities. As a nurse practitioner here, you’re often the most senior member of staff so that can feel quite different.”
Laura’s nursing journey actually started in a bar when she took a job pulling pints and one of the other barmaids who was training as a nurse suggested she should try it.
“We’re incredibly lucky to get to look after patients the way we do and I think nursing is the sort of career that you build a huge relationship with. I really enjoy what I do because of the care you can provide to patients and you also get to work with such a great group of people.
“Of course, the past 18 months have been really difficult and at times quite frightening, but it’s instilled in me even more the importance of teamwork.
“There’s a real family feel to the staff working at Hexham because you tend to get to know everyone and there’s such a strong community pride in the town. It’s a lovely close-knit hospital and relationships with staff and patients become so important.”
The focus now is on delivering the elective programme and making sure patients are seen quickly and safely as the NHS works through backlog created during the pandemic.
“We were one of the first wards to reopen for elective surgery post-covid so it was great try and get back to normality. We are all working so hard to get through these surgical lists and make sure that patients can get their operations.
“I work on a covid light ward so we feel a big responsibility to keep our patients safe and infection free so that they can have their surgery,” she adds