North London Partners in health and care

Case study: Jennie Williams


Jennie WilliamsClinical lead for Hornsey Central Neighbourhood Health Vaccination Centre

You briefly retired from the NHS – when was that?

I planned my retirement from my role as the Director of Quality and Nursing for Haringey and Islington CCGs for April 1, 2020. With the pandemic in full swing, it turned out to be strange timing. I spent the summer caring for elderly dependants while my husband, who had retired from his role as the Director of Nursing for Central and North West London Foundation Trust, had already returned to work with NHS and university colleagues. 

What inspired you to come out of retirement?

Watching valued colleagues deal with unprecedented challenges, I wanted to return to an active role to help get the NHS back on its feet. I also wanted to support and enable nurses to remain in their existing roles and to continue to do their work, rather than be seconded elsewhere because of the pressure on staffing. I knew a big part of my role would be helping get healthcare professionals to work with us as part of a new team. 

What role were you given?

I approached Michelle Johnson, the Chief Nurse at Whittington Health and asked if I could join the bank. I did the necessary vaccination training and was then asked if I’d join the team of clinical leads overseeing the vaccination centres in North Central London. I work three long days a week at the Hornsey Central Neighbourhood Vaccination Centre. 

What would you say to former nurses who are thinking of returning?

I would say to registered nurses who’ve left, retired nurses, to non-registered nurses, to healthcare staff and to volunteers, please don’t hesitate in coming to join us. You will be very well supported by a fantastic team. You are needed and will be so valued, so please come back and help our local community get on the pathway back to normality. 

Because I retired and came back myself, I understand anxieties about returning and the need to ensure the right kind of support is always available. We do regular face-to-face meetings to touch base with one another, to raise questions and get advice. It’s a great model that’s working very well. 

What are the rewards of working at the centre?

There’s absolute joy in being in a safe, happy environment which is patient-facing and that’s an element everyone loves. As the returners work in a narrow field of practice, getting back to full speed, confidence and competence is very easy and it’s a privilege for me to oversee and support that.

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