Michelle Gorringe, COO, RN, speaks at the LaingBuisson Private Healthcare Summit
Our COO, Michelle Gorringe, shares her journey and vision as a registered nurse
Michelle Gorringe, our Chief Operating Officer and Registered Nurse, was a guest on a panel discussion at the LaingBuisson Private Healthcare Summit on Wednesday 17th May 2023. Michelle spoke passionately about her career as a nurse and her vision for the future. Read on to see what she had to say.
“Almost 40 years ago I chose nursing as my career.
When I was 14 my grandfather was dying of cancer and my aunt - a nurse - was the only one who could make him comfortable. I remember thinking of them as the ‘magic pillows’ because only her hands could mould his pillows to give him the support and comfort he desperately needed. She could unblock his catheter giving him instant relief…. I watched her support the entire family in their direst need, she was magnificent! I loved hearing her stories of life on the ward, of the friendships forged through shared, intense human experiences and I was inspired.
I didn’t have access to ongoing financial support from my parents to enable me to continue my education after my A levels so I had to choose a career that offered a paid education - or simply get a job.
The opportunity for me to learn while earning a small wage was irresistible. When I say “small” I mean small - 96p an hour! The opportunity to live in the nurses’ accommodation for 11 pounds a week was golden – I was on my way!
I’m a strong advocate for nursing apprenticeships opening up another route for individuals who want to be a nurse but are better suited to ‘on the job learning’, and as long as this isn’t allowed to prejudice registered nursing as a graduate profession, this has to be a positive change.
40 years ago I had the ability to enter a university nursing degree programme but despite having the ability, I did not have the financial means and couldn’t have entertained the zero pay and huge debts.
Today’s nursing degree students are left with crippling debts when they qualify and I’m interested to see how this might be addressed in the forthcoming Workforce Plan. Because we charge them for their education, we put financial obstacles in the path of the very people we so desperately need, right from the beginning.
As the elderly population grows and the demands upon the NHS and social care increases, we desperately need to attract and retain more nurses and carers. We have to value our nurses and carers, our society needs them - we will all likely need them one day.
There is a perception that care and support staff are untrained, uneducated and low skilled but this couldn’t be further from the truth. The healthcare workforce is a dedicated, talented and skilled community. They are the backbone of the social care sector and a critical support to their nursing colleagues in the NHS. We desperately need more care and support staff.
A recent survey Newcross ran reported that 25% of care staff were looking to leave social care in the next 12 months. That’s a terrifying statistic! In reality we cannot afford to lose a single one.
How can we attract and retain people in our care sector? How do we raise the profile of our healthcare service and the wonderful community of people who devote their lives to helping and supporting the most vulnerable in society?
Yes, we need to address pay, benefits and working conditions caused by understaffing. At the moment we seem to be trapped in a vicious circle and it has to be broken.
But we also need to regain a sense of pride in our profession. To dispel any perceived lack of progression and opportunity. We need to promote the wealth of opportunities the care sector offers for growth and development.
We have to give people clear career-signposting, to open up the “art of the possible”. We need to provide the opportunity to educate, to train and grow in skills - without debt.
We have to prepare our workforce for the future. For the new roles, skills, and opportunities that are coming through innovations which will also lead to improved patient care and outcomes.
Accessible education is key. Education creates a skilled and talented workforce, eager for career development and enhanced job satisfaction.
Education empowers individuals to navigate their own journey, with the freedom to develop and improve as they wish.
Education professionalises a workforce and creates new roles that will attract the best people. We need to give our people the opportunities to develop and formally register their education and skills.
This was the thinking behind our decision three years ago at Newcross - to make all education free to all of our workforce.
It has been a roaring success. Our nurses and carers have embraced the opportunity with overwhelming enthusiasm. Last year alone they undertook 250,000 courses, upskilling and gaining access to new opportunities.
The response to this initiative has been so powerful and positive that we are now establishing FuturU, a stand-alone provider of healthcare education. Through FuturU we will offer free training to everyone in the UK, not just Newcross employees, with a longer term ambition to go global.
FuturU is creating new virtual training programmes to provide interactive experiences and competency testing.
If we are going to change the profile of our sector to create opportunity for progression and personal growth free education is vital.
40 years ago I was able to pursue my dream because I did not have the financial obstacles in my way and I have not regretted the decision once. It’s now more important than ever that the next generation can enjoy the same opportunities."