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Chief Nurse's Blog

Chief Nurse's Blog

Date of release: 21 October 2021

Latest News: Ann-Marie Cannaby Blog

For some of my blogs I focus on the amazing staff that work at The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust and Walsall Healthcare Trust. Rachel Tomkins has recently joined Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust as the Divisional Deputy Chief Nurse in the Division of Medicine and Long Term Conditions.

Rachel, who trained in Liverpool, was Deputy Matron for Surgery at Russell Hall Hospital in Dudley, working in pre-operation assessment across the divisions before gaining her first Matron post, in elderly care. Although she loved that post, the chance to become Matron of the Emergency Department and consolidate all she had learned proved too big to resist. “You get to see every specialty in ED so I thought ‘why not give it a go?’” she told me. 

But as much as Rachel adored that role and her time in Dudley, she decided she was ready for a new challenge at Walsall after more than two decades with the same Trust.

“I am loving it,” she reports. “Everyone has been so welcoming, helpful, friendly and supportive and I’m really enjoying making a difference to our patients, quality and safety.”

She and Divisional Chief Nurse in the Division of Medicine and Long Term Conditions Rani Virk are a great fit because they complement each other – Rachel has done lots of work around transformation, governance and the CQC while Rani has worked at a strategic level and has lots of leadership experience.

Latest News: Chief Nurse's Blog - Rachel Tomkins

Along with forming an excellent partnership with Rani, Rachel has also forged an excellent relationship with our Director of Nursing Lisa Carroll and I feel we have a really strong senior nursing leadership team. Rani and Lisa have really helped Rachel in terms of how the Trust runs and in turn, she says there’s a real willingness to make a difference with the care we give, which she describes as ‘palpable’ when you come into the organisation.

Rachel says the international nurses who have joined Walsall Healthcare are flourishing and have been a fantastic addition to the workforce. They really are shining stars. To pack a suitcase and go to work thousands of miles from home in a different language and culture, they are brave and courageous. But they have integrated really well and are going through the various processes of training, education and competency packages.

And, just as we are supporting them, they are helping us. They bring different ways of working and they challenge our thought processes which is good because it makes us think ‘can we do things better or differently?’ 

Rachel is proud to be a nurse and to be part of such an amazing team. And, with the new Emergency Department taking shape and such investment in staffing and education, it’s an exciting time to be a nurse here.

With an uncle as a GP and two cousins who are midwives and a father who has been a lifelong farmer, Rachel, a mother of two boys aged 15 and 12 based in Shropshire, reckons she was destined to be either a nurse or a farmer.

It looks like she made the right decision!

Take care,
Ann-Marie

A Teaching Trust of the University of Birmingham