A NURSE who returned to the Great Western Hospital after a six-year hiatus is urging others to put aside their fears of inadequacy and go back to work.

Chantel Otley, one of the latest recruits on the endoscopy ward, left GWH after giving birth to her third child.

Later she became a family social worker before joining the Targeted Mental Health Service.

Although she missed nursing, she felt too out of touch with the profession and feared she would not be up to the task if she applied for a job at the hospital after years away from the wards.

Despite initial reservations, she signed up to the GWH’s Return to Acute Care course and gradually rebuilt her confidence.

The mother-of-three from Oakhurst was so successful she was offered a post as a staff nurse in the endoscopy unit before the end of her 14-week training.

“I did other things but I missed it,” said the 40-year-old. “My friend saw in the Adver the first cohort that had gone through the course and said it would be perfect for me. I felt so unconfident.

“Although I worked in mental health it didn’t give me the acute training I needed. I was very nervous about getting back into it and what sorts of job I would get.

“I had a very good mentor and having someone say you’re doing something well was a confidence boost. The skills are there, it’s about getting the confidence back. After a few weeks you feel back up to speed. You feel like you’ve never been away.”

The free Return to Acute Care course, the first in the UK, was launched in June last year as part of GWH’s recruitment drive to fill nearly 180 nursing posts. GWH is planning to run four such programmes each year.

“We have yet to find anywhere else that offers this course and it seems we are leading the way to a certain extent,” said training and development manager Claire Barker. “We have had other trusts ask us about the programme and how it works.

“It’s applicable for anybody who is a trained nurse, to bridge the gap between where they are and where they need to be. It’s lovely to see the calibre of staff getting in.

“We try to place as many people from the course as we can.”

The next 14-week course will start on September 1.

As part of the training, nurses spend a day a week for seven weeks learning in the classroom and a further seven days over the rest of the programme on wards.

For more, contact Helen Booth at Helen.Booth@gwh.nhs.uk or on 01793 604453, or Claire Barker at Claire.Barker@gwh.nhs.uk or on 01793 604438.