Keep it in the family
Ruth May is one of the UK's most senior nurses, but she’s most proud of her work on relieving pressure ulcers
Ruth May is executive nursing director at NHS Improvement
Because my mother told me to! She was a nurse, as was my aunt. In fact, my mum only left nursing to get married and have me. I did some voluntary work at a nursing home in Pontypool, which, other than the smell of talc, I found really enjoyable, so I decided I’d like to do more of it and have never regretted it.
I was going to become a chef.
Most of them have been developed on the job, including some great mentorships from people I have worked for. I’ve also done some excellent courses, including the Florence Nightingale Scholarship.
I’m able to bring my front line nurse leadership skills and experience to the organisation’s top table, ensuring our work and decisions are always in the best interests of patients and NHS staff.
I’m enjoying the opportunities we have, including prioritising our work between now and 2020. Plus, meeting chief nurses, their deputies and staff – all of whom have given me plenty to think and act on.
Dealing with the volume of emails. Last week I got 155 in one afternoon.
My priorities over the next five years are staffing, reducing falls, and supporting talent management and aspiring directors of nursing. I also want to carry on my pressure ulcers work.
All nurses. The compassion, professionalism and dedication shown daily is an inspiration.
My work on the Stop the Pressure campaign to help prevent pressure ulcers; in particular, the great work nursing students have done to support it. I started working on pressure ulcer prevention in 2011 when I was regional chief nurse for NHS Midlands and East, which launched the campaign. Via our website, we’ve developed lots of materials on preventing pressure ulcers and their recurrence, with an emphasis on practical steps like making sure patients are on the right surface. Even if I say so myself, we’ve come on in leaps and bounds.
My daughter Lucie, who is five going on 15.
Having fun with Lucie, going for walks with my dog, watching the film Grease – it always makes me laugh – and reading Hello! because I love a good gossip.
The five key things are: self-awareness and an understanding of how others perceive you; compassion for your team and yourself; the ability to keep the patient at the centre of everything you do; having a clear vision of what you want to achieve; and, above all, resilience.
I would say the top three things are: keep the patient at the centre of everything you do, work collaboratively and remember to enjoy yourself.
Making sure the service has the right staff with the right skills to provide patients with quality care, supporting excellence in the NHS and delivering a vision that focuses on tomorrow’s workforce.