Career advice

Outstanding opportunities at NHS Blood and Transplant Services

Leadership development programmes for staff at every level are among the attractions at the national service for blood, organ and tissue donation.
Transplant_NOC.jpg

Leadership development programmes for staff at every level are among the attractions at the national service for blood, organ and tissue donation

Being an employer of choice is among the aims of a new nursing strategy, launched by NHS Blood and Transplant Services (NHSBT).

Setting out its vision up to 2020, the strategy includes a newly-formed nursing council, to be established this summer with eight nurses and a chairperson. The council will oversee progress towards the goals. 'Nurses are at the centre, developing and driving the work plan,' says one of NHSBT's three chief nurses, Catherine Howell, who leads on diagnostic and therapeutic services.

Employing about 700 whole time equivalent nurses in the UK, the organisation offers a broad range of different roles. Alongside blood donation and

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Leadership development programmes for staff at every level are among the attractions at the national service for blood, organ and tissue donation


NHS Blood and Transplant Services specialises in blood donation
and management and more. Picture: Neil O'Connor

Being an employer of choice is among the aims of a new nursing strategy, launched by NHS Blood and Transplant Services (NHSBT).

Setting out its vision up to 2020, the strategy includes a newly-formed nursing council, to be established this summer with eight nurses and a chairperson. The council will oversee progress towards the goals. 'Nurses are at the centre, developing and driving the work plan,' says one of NHSBT's three chief nurses, Catherine Howell, who leads on diagnostic and therapeutic services.

Employing about 700 whole time equivalent nurses in the UK, the organisation offers a broad range of different roles. Alongside blood donation and management, there are specialist posts in areas such as therapeutic apheresis, tissue and organ donation, and research.

Care, quality and communication

Actively recruiting now, selection is based on behaviours rather than core skills. 'We don't just take blood,' says Ms Howell. ‘My area is highly specialised. But learning the technical interventions is the easy bit. I need a nurse who is compassionate and can talk to a family or sit with a bereaved relative. It's about care, quality and communication.'

Nurses joining the organisation have access to a package of education and support that she describes as 'second to none', with professional development nurses in each directorate focusing solely on developing the nursing workforce. This includes leadership development programmes for staff at every level, with nurses actively encouraged to sign up for internal and external courses. 'It's our unique selling point,' says Ms Howell.

Specialist nurse organ donation (SNOD) Angela Ditchfield joined the service in 2012, after spending eight years working in intensive care, eventually becoming a sister. 'I started in intensive care as a newly qualified nurse and as I became more experienced, I began to feel passionate about organ donation. I knew that was what I wanted to do,' she says. 'It's a privilege to work with people who are brave enough to let their loved ones be an organ donor.' 

Support to develop

In 2015, she won a Mary Seacole Leadership Award, travelling to South Korea to present her research. She is currently studying for a doctorate. 'I've done so much since I've been here,' says Ms Ditchfield. 'And the organisation has always supported me. You're encouraged to develop and I'm much more confident now, learning a lot about myself, personally and professionally. I enjoy coming to work and every minute of working here.'

Now she is taking on a different challenge, starting a newly created two-year secondment as diversity lead nurse in organ donation, based in Lancashire. The role is twofold: to encourage more people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds to join the organ donation register; and also to come and work for NHSBT.

'We're predominantly white women and we need to encourage people from different backgrounds to join us if we're to represent the communities we serve,' explains Ms Ditchfield. 'I enjoy meeting people from different communities, so I'm excited.' 

Find out more about the career opportunities NHSBT offers here.


Lynne Pearce is a freelance health writer

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