Ward Manager

Leah Callighan, 29, is a ward manager at Bradford Royal Infirmary. Leah first joined the Trust 11 years ago as an apprentice before going on to qualify as a nurse and working her way up.

“I joined the NHS when I was 17 years old, when I had no idea what I really wanted to do.

“My first job was as a receptionist in the Training department, where I passed my NVQ level II and III.

“But I felt it was a waste that I was working in a hospital yet I’d never cast eyes on a patient. So I joined the Temporary Nurse Register as a healthcare assistant. The benefits were a little bit of extra money and I wanted to see what it was like on the wards.

“I had my first shift when I was 19. I felt incredibly nervous and anxious about doing a 7.30-8pm shift and wondered how I was going to do it.


“I shadowed someone and it was actually one of the most amazing days of my life – I absolutely loved it!

“It was so different and you got out and met people. It was nice to be able to help people, get them looking a little bit more together and make sure they were well looked after. And the shift absolutely flew!

“I remember my Dad coming to pick me up and I said that I wanted to do the job full-time. I left within the month to work as a HCA and continued on the TNR.

“I worked within all the different specialities and got a sense of what I wanted to do and it was to work on one of the surgery wards.”

Leah then decided to enter nursing and, in 2010, was accepted onto a degree course at the University of Bradford. However, she remained on the TNR as a HCA, allowing her to work selected shifts throughout the three-year course.

“I started my nurse training in September 2010. After graduating I worked as a staff nurse on the plastic surgery/maxillofacial ward for about a year. Then I moved to Infectious Diseases as a staff nurse for two-to-three months before becoming a junior sister on ward 24 – Infectious Diseases again – in January 2015.”

In January 2016, Leah, who lives in Idle, Bradford, moved on to ward 27 – our orthopaedic, trauma and plastic surgery ward, and remained there until September 2017, when she was seconded to be ward manager on our Yorke Suite.

Ward Manager Leah Callighan

However, the ward closed and she was asked to move to ward 9, our short-stay medical ward, before being appointed ward manager on ward 18 – our ENT unit.

She added: “It’s nice to be working clinically after spending most of my time to date in surgery.

“I absolutely love my job. Every day really is so different. I am managing critically unwell patients, bed pressures, and patient flow, plus looking after around 20 staff and making sure they are supported with their own continuing professional development.

“I would like to progress and qualify as a matron one day before eventually joining the chief nurse’s team.

Lots of opportunities

“I like it here because it’s a big hospital but there is a sense of belonging. Everyone is very helpful, and there are lots of opportunities.

“I have gone from receptionist to ward manager in 10 years because of the Trust, and I think things might have been very different at another Trust.

“We have got a fantastic team of matrons and every ward I have been on, I have been able to learn skills from the matron to help me develop both personally and professionally.

“I have supported band 5 nurses into band 6 positions, and helped band 2 staff apply for nursing associate roles.

“It’s lovely when you see your staff move forward and you have been able to help them.”