As we move towards the proposed merger between Somerset FT and Yeovil District Hospital (YDH), we want to shine a spotlight on the members of our shared executive team. Getting to know the people they are, as well as the contribution they make in their roles, and how they will continue to bring our two trusts together.

To fit nicely with this week’s International Nurses’ Day, our next spotlight is on chief nurse, Hayley Peters:

“Since I took on the role of chief nurse across both trusts, I’ve been spending my time getting to know colleagues at YDH, and I want to thank everyone for their incredibly warm and supportive welcome. I’ve spent nine years in Somerset’s health services so far and it’s no coincidence that I’ve spent this long in Somerset.

“It truly is a joy to lead health and care services in this county. The diversity of nursing that we have across our trusts, the commitment that colleagues have to delivering the very best, person-centred care, and the determination to continue to innovate and grow the services we deliver fills me with great pride. Somerset is an outstanding place to work, and I’m really looking forward to spending more of my career in this county.

“If the truth be known, there wasn’t a grand plan from an early age to be a nurse, but it’s a decision that I have never regretted. Like many young people, I didn’t achieve the A Levels expected and it was a chance UKCC application form in the library of the college at the same time as I was watching nurses care for my grampy at the end of his life, that sealed it for me at the age of 18. These nurses left me with lasting memories of compassion, knowledge, skill and unbelievable creativity in finding solutions to enable him to die peacefully at home.

“I started my career in the South West, but spent much of my early career in London and the South East. I started in critical care, first as an intensive care nurse and later, following a period of training at Birmingham Medical School, as one of the very first physician’s assistants to practise in the UK. Upon moving back to the South West, I practiced for seven years as a physicians associate in anaesthetics at Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital.

“I’ve been in a director of nursing or chief nurse role since 2015, and it’s fair to say that we have experienced some truly extraordinary years. The pandemic brought with it so many challenges – and one in particular for me personally.  Like many of you I come to work with a lived experience. I have a significant hearing impairment, which in all honesty wasn’t an issue at all during my career, until the pandemic hit and masks were introduced. It has become really challenging, but this has made me driven to shine a light on hidden disabilities. We all carry something with us, but by being open and honest, we can better support each other.

“I also bring a real passion for the armed forces with me to my work life. I’m a wife and mum to two young men, and my eldest, George, is an officer in the Navy. My husband also served in the Army before he became a policeman. This personal experience drives my enthusiasm to ensure we’re doing our very best to give tailored care and support to patients and colleagues with links to the armed forces. 

“The bringing together of Somerset FT and YDH provides a firm foundation and I really feel that, together, we are best placed to improve patient outcomes and provide new opportunities for our colleagues. At a time when there is much uncertainty in healthcare, it is hugely motivating to be looking forward. A heartful thank you goes to all the teams and colleagues that continue to inspire me along the way, as we continue to focus on improving health services for the people of Somerset.”