Bridlington Hospital has a new woman at the helm – and she’s a ‘Yorkshire lass’ who’s passionate about healthcare.
Driffield-born Hazel Rees, 54, has been a nurse since she started her training at Scarborough Hospital back in 1977, qualifying as a State Registered Nurse in 1980. And she’s keen to point out that the new role does not take her from nursing to management, but combines the two.
She said: “I have spent most of my life in Yorkshire, and got my first sister’s job at the age of 24, which was very young. I took a break to have a family, but went back to nursing.”
It is clear that her work is her passion, and she has many achievements to be proud of. An ethos of care is fundamental to her, but more than that, she has done her best to develop services whatever role she has been in.
In 1998 she took over charge of the Haworth Unit Day Hospital in Scarborough. She said: “It was not functioning as a proper day hospital; there were people just sitting round in chairs. We turned it into a busy, multi-function day hospital, where patients were actually receiving treatment.”
Hazel also developed GP study evenings related to elderly care, thereby not only indirectly improving services for older people in the community, but also raising funds that were ploughed back into education for nurses.
During this time she undertook further study.
“Nursing had become a more academic career, so I did my diploma and then later an honours degree. I went from what was then Grade D to Grade H, and was asked to apply for a ward manager post.
“After a year on Beech Ward I moved to the new Holly Ward, which opened on New Year’s Day, 2001. It was a lovely new facility, but I was having to deal with builders still, as well as patients!”
It was in 2004 that Hazel decided that she was ready for another career progression, and she took over as night co-ordinator at Scarborough Hospital; a challenging role that demands hard work and both clinical and managerial skills.
She loved it.
“I had close contact with patients as well as having to co-ordinate bed use. It was still very much a hands-on role.”
Never overwhelmed by the work required, Hazel also did her advanced life support qualifications, and then went on to train as a life support instructor. There is every indication, therefore, that Bridlington Hospital will be in capable hands under her leadership.
She stresses: “The role is the day-to-day-management of Bridlington Hospital, dealing with any issues that crop up. As senior nurse I will also be fulfilling the matron duties, and I intend to make sure that I visit wards every day – because I want to make sure that the care is fantastic.
“I am passionate about kindness and dignity. I want to try to look after patients like I would look after my own mum.
“I have good support from Trust directors, and what we want to do now is to work out just what is the best use of Bridlington Hospital, so we can make sure it is well used.”
Hazel is, as she says herself, a blunt-speaking Yorkshire lass, and there are no false promises. Emergency care will not be returning to Bridlington, but that is just to be realistic about what sort of care is feasible at a hospital of this size and location. However, that still leaves much potential.
She said: “There is no reason why people can’t have their operations here, or return here to recover. We are looking at what is already working successfully, and what we can use the empty areas for.”
Nationally, the NHS is currently experiencing major difficulties with a rise in emergency admissions, which in turn can cause elective – or planned – operations to be cancelled because beds are full.
The York Trust that now owns Bridlington Hospital is not immune to this problem. The attractions of increasing surgery at Bridlington, therefore, are easy to see. And with additional operating sessions come additional outpatient clinics to support the various specialities.
“I want to make sure Bridlington is a safe place for the hospital experience, and expand services so that it is used to full capacity.
“There’s been a lot of uncertainty over past years, but I think the merger with York has shown that Bridlington Hospital has a future; York sees it as an asset, because it’s a fantastic facility. I think staff are feeling happier and more secure than they have in the past few years.”
And when it comes to supporting what is said with tangible actions, Hazel has done that too. She moved to Bridlington Old Town two years ago because she thinks it’s one of the most beautiful places in Britain. And she has no intention of ever leaving. So as she helps secure the future of services in Bridlington, it’s reassuring to know that those are services that one day she might expect to be using herself.
Which probably makes hers the safest pair of hands to look after Bridlington Hospital in a very long time.