Acting matron and acting ward manager

Two nurse managers are proof that opportunity is available to all at Bradford Teaching Hospitals.

Mel Stack and Julie Brook began their careers as a ward domestic and healthcare assistant respectively, but have now risen to senior positions on some of our busiest wards.

Mel is now acting ward manager on ward 4 – the same ward she worked on as a part-time domestic while she was a 16-year-old student back in 1992 – and Julie acting matron for urgent care. Both began their careers at Bradford in the early 1990s.

After finding employment as a domestic on BRI’s ward 4 while doing her GCSEs, Mel went on to work as a part-time healthcare assistant at the hospital while attending college.

She later left to have a family, before returning to work part-time as a HCA on ward C2 at St Luke’s, ward 1 at BRI and, in 2001, AMU.

She was then encouraged by her matron at the time, Karen Johnson, to complete her nurse training, and was seconded to study for a nursing degree at the Open University in 2008.

All her hard work paid off when mum-of-two Mel qualified as a nurse in 2012. In 2017, she moved on again after being appointed a sister, before stepping up to her current acting ward manager role on ward 4 – our Medical Admissions Ward ­– this autumn.

She said: “I used to come round with a trolley giving patients cups of tea on an evening on ward 4 and now I am back in charge of the same ward!

“When I was 16, Dr Moreea (Consultant Gastroenterologist) had just begun as a senior house officer, so he remembers me! When I qualified he was over the moon!”

Dr Moreea said: “Mel’s career progression has been nothing less than totally deserved and worthy of praise. It also reflects how this Trust values the people who work here who are prepared to put in the work to progress their careers.

“I’ve known Mel for a very long time, from being a House Officer, and she hasn’t changed at all – she always has a smile and is always very pleasant to all. I’m very pleased to see her in her current position. Very well done Mel!”

Mel loves the diversity of her new job.

“Every day is different here and I love it. I would like to be the permanent ward manager and be as good as I can be. I knew I would be a nurse one day, but I didn’t think I would be a ward manager!”

Mum-of-one Julie started as a healthcare assistant on ward 4 in December 1998 aged 20. She then left to study nursing at the University of Huddersfield before joining ward C2 – a male medical ward at St Luke’s – as a staff nurse in 2003.

Acting ward manager Mel Stack (left), and acting matron Julie Brook

In 2004 she joined A&E at BRI, and progressed to A&E sister in 2010, moving to AMU as a junior sister in 2015.

She was then promoted to senior sister in 2016, opened up Bradford’s first-ever short-stay ward in March 2017, and appointed acting matron in the autumn of 2018. Julie is now in charge of around 90 staff across AMU, ambulatory care, and the short-stay ward at BRI!

She said: “My ambition was always to be a ward manager, but I wanted to work in A&E too. I’ve been lucky enough to do both!”

Julie believes said she would not have progressed so far without the support of her Bradford colleagues.

“I like Bradford; I think it’s a great organisation. You feel valued here with all the training they put on and the staff are amazing. You are able to progress as the right people are here to recognise that you are ready to move up and can do the job.

“I would like to get the permanent urgent care matron job, and I would like to make things better and AMU flow better. We need to look at new ways of working to create better standards of care for our patients, look at the Emergency Care Standard, and look at recruiting too.

“Everyone is very supportive but you also know what people’s expectations are. I have loved it here. We are Bradford, come and join us!”

Asked if there was a secret behind their success, Julie said: “Determination, dedication and making sure your patients are at the centre of everything you do. I’d advise anyone out there who wants to do something similar to go for it!”