After working tirelessly to help re-shape Walsall Healthcare’s School Nursing Team and promote a greater understanding of the invaluable work it does, Professional Lead Sallyann Sutton has retired.
Sallyann, who has clocked up 37 years in the NHS, says her proudest achievements include strengthening the collaboration between School Nursing and the wider partnership as well as being given the accolade of Queen’s Nurse – a recognition of her contribution to community nursing.
She believes she was destined to take up nursing as a career with a dad who worked in the ambulance service and a mum who did her nursing training later in life after having a family.
“I guess you could say it’s in the genes,” said mother-of-two Sallyann.
She did her training at the Sister Dora School of Nursing in Walsall back in 1986 and at that time had to stay working within the hospital for two years.
“I really wanted to be out in the community – I had done a lot of volunteering with Guiding and already had an appreciation of how important community relationships and links could be in terms of healthcare so it was a natural progression for me.”
She recalls that School Nursing was seen as fairly old-fashioned and task orientated back in the nineties and has worked hard with committed colleagues to develop the service, becoming the first Team Leader in 2001.
She holds a Master’s degree in Child and Family Mental Health and a Post Graduate Diploma in Public Mental Health and has developed pathways across School Nursing Services and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services working within a Primary Mental Health provision.
Sallyann is the regional project lead for Targeted Mental Health in Schools (TaMHS) working for NHS West Midlands and part of a regional TaMHS implementation team. She was a member of the expert panel for the development of the handbook for Mental Health Support Teams in School and a topic expert for NICE contributing to the development of two sets of Public Health guidance.
She became Professional Lead for School Nursing in 2013 and for the last 15 months she has been Professional Lead for Health Visiting and School Nursing.
She said: “After 31 years in School Nursing I am proud of how the service has evolved into an invaluable support for young people, parents and carers. With our focus on mental health and emotional health and wellbeing we are very much in tune with the issues that affect our service users. The feedback we receive is extremely rewarding.”
Another high point for Sallyann, who belongs to the School and Public Health Nurses Association (SAPHNA), has been her Elizabeth Garrett Anderson NHS Senior Healthcare Leadership Award.
In her spare time, Sallyann enjoys skiing in winter and is a keen cyclist – volunteering for British Cycling to lead its rides and encourage more women particularly into cycling.
She will be taking a month off, to concentrate on welcoming a potential new arrival in the shape of a rescue greyhound, then will return to her role with the Health Visiting and School Nursing Teams to support its deputy leaders and focus on partnership agendas for 12 months.
Her colleagues gathered to give her a send-off last Friday.
Amanda Street and Alison Payne, clinical leads for school nursing said Sallyann had been “a role model” to them both through their School Nursing careers. And they joked that their auditing and IT skills have flourished under her leadership!
And Sally Price, School Nurse Admin, said: “Sallyann has transformed the School Nursing Service and has given it purpose and stability. She is open, honest and fair and always encourages suggestions to improve and promote the service. Her hard work and tenacity is evident in everything she does.”