It’s good to be back

Following a four month return-to- practice course, Siobhan returned to frontline nursing last year after a 23-year break.  She works two days a month in an acute setting in her own time and using NHS England volunteer days. Here she explains why she decided to return:    

So why am I writing this blog? – To share my clinical experiences with you in the hope it will help you in your work, and also to encourage those of you that have been thinking of going back into a front-line nursing role.

Why did I decide become a nurse again? – There were three reasons:

First, the time felt right for me to become a front-line nurse again as I realised nursing is such a rewarding profession.

Second, as a NHS Manager it felt like I was writing guidance and policies, but I did not ‘truly’ know what it was like for staff and patients that my work impacted on. That was making me ‘feel ethically uncomfortable’.

Finally, I was keen to share my insights from my clinical work with my NHS England colleagues.

Practising as a nurse 23 years ago had its own pressures, some of which brought me to the conclusion that I wanted to move away from it.

One of the situations that made me felt this way was because of an experience I had of working on my last acute ward. A woman had been admitted for overdosing on tablets. While talking to her I found out that she had been raped and had taken tablets because the men who had been convicted were appealing against their sentence and she was worried that they would be released.

When I handed the patient over to my colleagues they did not seem interested in her reason for taking an overdose, and she was discharged after a quick psychiatric assessment. I realised that this was not enough, and maybe nursing did not meet the ethical or value behaviours that I considered key to deliver a first class service to patients.

So, 23 years later, and after a four month back to nursing course the questions are:

‘Is nursing any different now than it was 23 years ago’ and ‘how can we use front-line experiences to make us better Managers?’

What did I find? It appears to me that patients still want the same things: to be listened to, empathy and to be seen as individuals. Recently during my clinical work there were two experiences that re-affirmed this to me.

The first was the comment I heard from some relatives:  “The fact that the nurse smiled made all the difference to us …it made us feel like they would look after our …….well.”

It was wonderful to see the big smile on the nurse’s face when I relayed this back to her. The fact she had spoken to them, actively listened to their issues and seen them as individuals made all the difference to the patient and relatives.

The other was my own experience. Whilst showering a patient I learnt all about her life, her illness, her family and that we had many things in common with each other.  When I saw her  relatives I knew straight away who they were and had an instant rapport with them.

I am not saying all managers need to become front-line practitioners, but all of us working in the NHS and Social Care can ask ourselves how we make a difference to the standard of care provided to all those that interact with the NHS on a daily basis. It might be how we respect and listen to fellow staff, or how we seek to ensure we are making a difference to patients during policy discussions, or how we make links with services we commission.

I hope you have enjoyed reading my experiences. This blog is not about telling you what you must do, but is JUST about sharing my experience with YOU. I would be happy to hear your comments and any reflections you have about my comments.


Siobhan Lendzionowksi

Siobhan Lendzionowksi is a Leadership Support Manager for Patient Experience within the National Patient Experience Team, which is part of the Nursing Directorate.

She has previously worked for Leeds Community Health NHS Trust; Yorkshire and Humber SHA, Leeds PCT; ran a community health development charity in Leeds for five years; worked in local government homelessness hostels; a domestic violence department and the private sector.

Siobhan left nursing in 1991.

Her career highlights include setting up a new domestic violence organisation that still runs today.

She has also implemented a patient experience and engagement assurance framework across 65 services.

Other highlights include successfully managing a £500,000 friends and family pathfinder programme of work in a region and successfully producing a nutrition and hydration commissioning guidance document with a group of national experts, CCG commissioners and NHS Colleagues whom were a fragmented group with different opinions and are now working successfully together to make major changes to commissioning.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Sara Latham says:

    Siobhan, I’ve just got to reading this, always meant to but just found a little time and I’m very glad I did. I have learnt things about a colleague I didn’t know and I am very proud to know and work with you. These are amazing things you do/have done. Well Done !

  2. Michaela Finegan says:

    Thank you for sharing. And such a positive response to something as simple but powerful as a smile. I have experienced this first hand having recently visited a friend in hospital. It is the human element that means so much and can be lost when we are busy. It also brings life to ‘hello my name is …’
    lets never forget we are all human !

  3. Lynne Watson says:

    ‘Smile’ ~ a bit like NHS care; free at the point of delivery. Also available on and off prescription…. one smile prn increasing to a big grin well required. To be used at every patient/colleague contact!

    Great blog Siobhan.

  4. Irene Macpherson says:

    Really? Two days a MONTH will let you see what it’s like for frontline nurses? Surely this is yet another reflection on how little management know about what staff face every day at work

    • Siobhan Lendzionowski says:

      Hello Irene

      Thanks for leaving a comment and reading the blog. I agree with you that 2 days only gives a glimpse but even in these 2 days I do get some very honest feedback from people during this time of what it is like . I would love to talk to you more about your comments. Please can you contact me so we can do this at

  5. Jane Robinson says:

    Dear Siobhan
    I read with interest your piece in the NHSE newsletter; having completed RTP in April, after a similar time out.

    Your experiences were also very similar.

    I’ve made it my mission to share my experiences in the hope that it might inspire others who are considering RTP, to take the plunge.
    I have just had an article published about my experience in the care of the elderly setting.

    Congratulations and welcome back
    Best wishes

  6. Rebecca power says:

    Would it not also work better if frontline staff could spend 2 days a month with you in your role, then we can communicate better at a senior level within our own organisations.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hello Rachel

      Yes I agree this would be a great idea and I have encouraged front line staff to do this with me. How about we chat over how NHS E could promote this more.

  7. Gill Phillips @WhoseShoes says:

    Brilliant! – proud to know you, Siobhan – and thanks for sharing your story 🙂 xx