Stefanie Herring, a triage nurse and Staff Forum member representing the Luton & Bedfordshire Out of Hours, shares her experience at HUC.

Stefanie Herring joined HUC in May 2017. Four years on, she couldn’t be prouder of what she has achieved so far. “I started at HUC on a bank contract and then moved on to a permanent contract after 18 months,” says Stef, as she’s popularly known by her colleagues. “The decision wasn’t a difficult one as I thoroughly enjoyed working here,” she adds.

As a triage nurse for the Out of Hours service, Stef predominantly works in the evenings and weekends. Her role involves nursing across different areas and she also provides help with NHS111 nursing calls when they need assistance with their pools. She also supports the senior GPs with the Clinical Assessments Service (CAS). Her days depend on what area of the service she’s working in.

“Sometimes I work remotely, and I’m doing telephone triage, which was set up to work from home due to the pandemic. But in the last six months I’ve gone back more to working in the contact centre,” she says.

Completing her Prescribing course recently has been the icing on the cake. The course gives an understanding of different medicines and how they work, the side effects and the potential outcomes for the patient. “It’s definitely the most challenging course I’ve ever done but the learning is incomparable. I would highly recommend it to any nurse paramedic because what you learn from others and add to it from your own experiences is invaluable. It really helps to take you forward in your career,” she states.

Stefanie is one of the first few from HUC to have completed the Prescribing course, sponsored by HUC. “The course was something I really wanted to pursue after having a conversation with my Line Manager around my appraisal about what sort of development I should be looking at. So, I started my course in October 2020 and finished in April earlier this year. I just received my qualification at the end of July and now I’m officially on the register as a nurse-prescriber,” she says proudly.

Elaborating further she says, “All my coursework had to be completed remotely due to the lockdown. HUC has been really supportive and both of my references – the Head of Services, Susannah Winter, and Kate Mclean, my direct Line Manager back then, have been hugely supportive throughout the course. By no means could I have done everything by my own without their support, especially as covering it remotely has been a completely new way of learning.”

What Stef enjoys the most at HUC is the variety in the work, despite the similarity of cases from our patients. “You still never know what you’re going to be dealing with and the way the day goes as well as the different pieces of work you get to do. So, I feel quite lucky that I can work across a couple of different areas,” she explains.

“There are times when in one day I’m doing a bit of Out of Hours, and then some CAS and then can go on to support some of the cases in the NHS111 Clinical Advisors pool, which is always busy. So, there are opportunities to do other things and it’s amazing that we can all work together,” she explains.

And now, with her prescribing qualification, Stef believes she can do more. “I’m really looking forward to be able to do some face-to-face consultations. The whole top-to-toe assessments will help me follow the entire patient journey rather than specific issues, which wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t done my prescribing course,” she states.

Would you encourage others to apply to HUC? “As a nurse with an experience of triage and urgent care or primary care or A&E, you’d be perfectly suited to working in the Out of Hours triaging. You do have to be quite independent and there’s a lot of freedom to do what you do as a professional,” she answers spontaneously.

“Though you are mostly working autonomously and that’s a great learning curve, you have people you can call on for help and assistance, so you’re not wholly left by yourself to deal with situations,” she adds.

Stefanie is not only focussed on her own development but also her colleagues. She is an active member of the Staff Forum, which has been established to provide an opportunity for colleagues across the whole of HUC to give feedback. “It is great to be a part of the Staff Forum as we are able to have open discussions and see recommendations from colleagues being implemented,” she adds.