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The Ninja Nurses of Primary Care
Some legendary abilities of Ninja warriors include invisibility, walking on water and control over the natural elements. Heather Henry, a former practice nurse and now the new chair of a forward thinking British primary care membership body, the NHS Alliance, thinks that primary care nurses are the uncelebrated ‘ninjas’ of their breed. Their invisibility is the thing she is tackling and she says myths have grown up about what they actually do, which stop young nurses coming into the specialism: ‘Handmaidens’, 'Marking time to retirement’, ‘Need years of experience’, ‘Part-timers doing the job for pin money’, etc.
Heather and fellow nurse Louise Brady set up a national GPN network. They decided to use social media – Twitter and Facebook – to explain all that is fabulous about primary care nursing. A recent social media campaign had a social reach of over ¾ million people.
Heather believes that primary care nurses are the beating heart of their communities and, as a social innovator, she has ideas about how they can develop their role. Heather’s approach is often ‘why have a meeting when you can have a party?’ and she sees residents as equal partners and often teachers too.
Across the Commonwealth there is an opportunity to celebrate and share the Ninja skill. Heather thinks that not only must nurses unite, but our key assets, our GPs and patients must stand with us. For they know us best and their war cry is loud.
Presented by Heather Henry (UK), NHS Alliance
Heather Henry, an independent nurse who, over the last four years, has worked at the cutting edge of 21st century primary care, trained at Manchester Royal Infirmary and worked for the majority of her career as a nurse and then manager in the NHS, before starting her own business Brightness Management four years ago with the aim of offering ‘a few bright ideas for health and social care.
Her focus is on social innovation – new approaches to help the most disadvantaged in society. She works in equal partnership with communities across the UK to build community spirit and help local people to help themselves. A former director of primary care, Heather is currently the elected co-vice chair of the NHS Alliance, where she leads on primary care’s contribution to health inequalities, with a particular focus in housing and health. A former practice nurse, she has recently established the NHS Alliance national network for general practice nurses alongside fellow nurse Louise Brady, and the network is gaining ground fast.