My job: Ruth Bradley, deputy chief executive of St Joseph's Hospice


My job: Ruth Bradley, deputy chief executive of St Joseph's Hospice

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What does your job involve?

I am the director of care at St Joseph’s Hospice, Hackney, providing leadership to nursing and allied health professionals – including complementary therapists and counsellors. I take responsibility for maintaining professional standards, quality of care, managing risk and service improvement.

Ruth Bradley

I ensure all care professionals have access to postgraduate professional development and training opportunities, including clinical leadership development and research. In addition, I develop and maintain networks for the hospice in the wider health and social care sector.

Why did you become a nurse?

I didn’t consider doing anything else although I am sure if I had, it would have been working in the caring professions in some way. When I was 15, I did work experience at an older people’s residential home every Sunday evening for a year. It was there I learnt the basics of good communication skills and where I confirmed my desire to become a nurse.

Why did you choose to specialise?

In my third year of training, one of my ward placements was in oncology. I had been struck by the intensity of treatments but how, with good symptom management, people could make a remarkable recovery. I also had a keen interest in the technical skills required to administer chemotherapy and radiotherapy and their related side effects and advancements.

It was also where I learnt to establish a relationship with patients and families during their journey through treatment. When treatment options were limited, I saw how palliative and end of care, with its aim to achieve the best possible quality of life, provided support and comfort. 

What was your previous role?

I worked at Barts Health Trust holding various posts including lead cancer nurse, head of nursing, matron, and ward sister in adult cancer services. I was also general manager for the cancer clinical academic unit for a brief period.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Seeing the positive effect of symptom management for people with advanced disease. I also get huge job satisfaction from seeing staff develop and grow as individuals and as a team.

What is the greatest challenge at work?

Keeping pace with the speed and volume of change in health and social care and implementing change with limited resources.

Where would you like to be in five years’ time?

Still in a leadership role as I enjoy being in a position where I can have an effect on front-line services and see the results of improvements in patient care.

What qualities do you think a cancer nurse should possess?

The ability to communicate well with patients and really listen to what they are telling you. Compassion for the patient and their family and those around them.

What inspires you?

Collaborative working between individuals and professionals across the wider health and social care sector and the positive effect of holistic, palliative and end of life care on people in East London.

Outside work, what do you enjoy?

Seeing my children flourish into responsible people brings me real joy. I love spending time with my family and enjoy walking, dancing and swimming. I’m also quite partial to a Roman ruin.

What nursing achievement are you proudest of?

My 10-year role as a ward sister on an acute oncology ward at Barts. This was where I first recognised my skills as a leader and where I was able to build and develop a nursing team with relevant skills and specialist qualities to meet the complex needs of people with cancer.

What advice would you give to a newly-qualified nurse in your field?

Always seize opportunities that can broaden your skills and confidence as a practitioner and potential leader for the future.