New analysis identifies the South West as the best place to be an NHS nurse

The South West is the best part of England in which to be an NHS nurse, according to new research to mark International Nurses Day (May 12).

It comes out top of the seven English regions, in an analysis based on factors from vacancy and sickness rates to property prices.

The South West did particularly well for staff morale and the feeling among nurses that they are recognised and rewarded, as captured by the annual NHS staff survey.

Work was carried out for Health Service Discounts, which provides offers to staff, in order to “celebrate where nurses are thriving most”.

The South West’s Regional Chief Nurse, Sue Doheny, said: “It’s great to have recognition of the South West as the best region of England to be a nurse. I’m sure everyone could argue about the stats and their relative importance, but when it comes to the critical areas of morale and professional recognition, we’re right up there.

“And there isn’t even a mention of quality of life and the amazing landscape that form the backdrop to nursing here, and which we know are such a big draw for so many staff.

“What better on International Nurses Day than to recognise the benefits of being a nurse right here, in the South West?”

One nurse who is glad she joined the NHS in the South West is Hannah Welbourne.

Hannah relocated to the South West a decade ago, starting on the wards of North Bristol NHS Trust as a sister in orthopaedics where she worked for six years, later taking on the post of Practice Development Nurse (PDN).

As a PDN she implemented clinical training and education sessions for staff to increase clinical skills and patient care quality, increasing job satisfaction and retention for her peers.

Hannah Welbourne (second right) and the North Bristol Trust team

Additionally, Hannah developed and teaches on a national masters module for orthopaedic staff across the UK, this program of work led to a national award nomination for ‘Nurse of the Year’ in 2023.

Hannah has continued her passion to support nurse development in her current role as Clinical Placement Lead at NBT; this vital role supports the development of the future of nursing in the South West.

At any one time, as part of their nurse training , hundreds of students from leading universities are developing their pre-registration nursing skills at NBT.

As Clinical Placement Lead Hannah meets the needs of students, wards, patients and universities by ensuring the pre-registration programme is providing an excellent learning environment and the programme is creating highly- skilled, competent and motivated nurses who she hopes will join her at NBT.

Hannah said: “I chose nursing after a stint working in a care home where I was inspired by the care I saw given by those who worked there to the residents.

“As a nurse you have the chance to make a difference to tens of thousands of lives. You’re not only helping the patients get back to their baseline, or as close to their baseline, but you are also their advocate, supporting them and their families through challenging times. It is 100 percent a privilege to be a nurse.”

She loves working in Bristol to the extent that although she and her family now live in South Wales, it’s worthwhile making the 45 mile round-trip each day.

“It’s an amazing place to be. I’ve met so many wonderful people here, they are so friendly and supportive, and that’s everyone from the people on the wards to the Trust managers.”

Hannah added anyone thinking of making the move to the South West, and particularly Bristol, to nurse, should “just do it”, adding: “As a major trauma centre, North Bristol is a really exciting place to work. There are lots of opportunities for professional growth, it is an extremely supportive trust.

“It’s a really supportive place to work, with fantastic opportunities for newly-qualified nurses but equally lots of posts for experienced staff as well.”

Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust celebrated its 2,500 nurses and midwives with a day of celebration including presenting Daisy awards to a nurse and a midwife who were both nominated by patients for the care they had given; encouraging its 270 international nurses and midwives  to add the flags of the countries they had left behind and bunting to celebrate its diverse workforce; and the launch of a new nursing and midwifery professional practice model to embed clinical practice against its organisational vision and values. It also launched an exciting new partnership with the Open University to help grow its nursing family.

Interim Chief Nurse Nicola McMinn said: “Our nurses are the backbone of our NHS and I am incredibly proud to work alongside such a diverse and compassionate team.

“I loved being a nurse and a midwife – I could not imagine doing anything else – and although my role does not involve a lot of direct patient care anymore, knowing my work positively impacts the lives of patients, families and staff every day is incredibly rewarding. Growing our nursing and midwifery workforce is incredibly important to me and we are delighted to now offer a Registered Nurse degree programme in partnership with the Open University for students to complete a three year programme with the OU and to undertake all of their clinical placements with us.”