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  • 14 June 2024
  • 9 min read

Why I love my nursing job in Ashford at IC24 working as a clinical advisor

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  • IC24
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    • Laura Bosworth
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“I enjoy having that one to one time with a patient. It's uninterrupted time with that patient. It's not that way when you're working in a busy acute hospital.”

"I enjoy having that one-to-one time with a patient.” Gigi Peverill explains why she loves her nursing job in Ashford, Kent, at IC24 giving clinical advice to NHS111 patients. She also talks to us about her nursing career, working in an ICU in the NHS during COVID, and how IC24 has supported her when she needed a better work-life balance.

I joined IC24 in January of this year and I work there as one of the clinicians giving clinical advice to patients who call in to our contact centre in Ashford. I work hybrid, which means I can work from home 4 days a week.

A lot of people are under the impression that people just phone NHS 111 with a sore throat and are directed back to the GP for antibiotics. I think that's the way that NHS 111 was set up years ago, you know, speaking to my colleagues that have been there for a lot longer. But, of course, now the complexity of the calls are quite, quite different.

“You're responsible for for getting the patient the right help, the most appropriate help at that particular time”

Gigi Peverill - Clinical Advisor at IC24

My nursing job in Ashford, Kent as a clinical advisor

I do pretty much the same thing whether I'm at home or working in the office. I'm in the office on Mondays, which is quite a busy day for us.

A call initially comes through to a health advisor. The more complex calls come through to clinicians such as myself. We call patients back and go through their current issues. They’re taken through an initial assessment.

My responsibility is to then signpost to the next, correct service. That could be an emergency service, ambulance service, treatment centre, or a mental health crisis team (unfortunately we get a lot of suicide calls as well - so that usually requires comforting the person on the phone until an ambulance arrives).

We get a number of social calls. So we will also direct patients to social services too; we do quite a few safeguarding referrals for elderly or people who are not able to cope at home.

So, as you can see, there's a huge spectrum of health issues that we are dealing with on a daily basis.

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Why I decided to leave the NHS to look for a new kind of nursing job

After having worked for almost four years in intensive care in the NHS, and through the toughest period intensive care has ever seen, I started to feel it physically.

I was working nights all the time and I felt that I had no work-life balance at all. I was just tired and you know, the NHS, as we all know, is struggling.

Initially I was thinking about education, about working as a practice educator or something that was predominantly office based. But it was very difficult to find an area where you could still be clinical, use your clinical skills and not lose that.

So I had a look at the employer IC24 a couple of times. Then I decided to go over to the IC24 contact centre in Ashford itself and have an informal meeting with one of the clinical trainers there.

I was able to have a walk around, meet some of the staff, and sit in on a couple of the calls as well.

And I thought, wow, this is really quite interesting. There was a lot, there was a lot more to it. That all drew my attention. I applied and got the job.

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What I love most about this very different kind of nurse job as a Clinical Advisor at IC24

I enjoy having that one-to-one time with a patient. It's uninterrupted time with that patient. It's not that way when you're working in a busy acute hospital. So you know, that does enable you to focus and sort of unpick the problem if you like.

“I enjoy having that one to one time with a patient. It's uninterrupted time with that patient. It's not that way when you're working in a busy acute hospital. You know, you actually feel like you're making a difference in that person's life.”

Gigi Peverill - Clinical Advisor at IC24

You are able to have quite a lengthy conversation with the patient and to get to the root cause. I think that's very important because quite often we pick up on problems on the surface and a lot of things get missed and they sort of bounce backwards and forwards without dealing with the cause.

That one-to-one consultation enables us to pick up on those issues. I really like that about the job. I really feel that I'm helping the patient and most of the time the patient is so appreciative that there is somebody there on the phone listening to them, understanding their problem and trying to help them.

You know, that's a nice thing that you actually feel like you're making a difference in that person's life.

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IC24 have been the most accommodating employer

I just wanted something different; I wanted something less physical so that I could still feel able to do the physical things outside of work. And I also wanted to find something where I felt more appreciated (morale is very low within the NHS - or certainly in the last Trust that I worked in). That gets to you after a while.

Within the five months that I've worked for IC24, I feel like myself again. I work predominantly from home now which means I can be around a little bit more for my mother who I care for. There's no distance to travel to work so when you're finished your shift, you're at home. It helps a great deal with my situation.

I work in the contact centre one day a week now. In the office, everyone's very friendly and there's a nice atmosphere - that's a big plus.

And they’re very accommodating with people's lifestyles. They're very good with that. That's helped me a great deal. They listen to you as an individual, you know. They take on an individual employee’s personal situation outside of work as well as in. It's not been too much trouble.

And I've seen this from other colleagues in the office that, you know, it's not too much trouble if you require a certain seat or if you have a disability. IC24 are amazing at providing what you need for work.

Also in my situation, where I have needed specific hours, it has sometimes been difficult for me to get to the contact centre for various reasons while caring for my elderly mother, especially now I’m the only sibling (and the rest of our family all live overseas).

IC24 have been so good, so accommodating at changing my schedule, my hours and very understanding with that, ensuring that I get my annual leave for when my mother came out of hospital. That is very rare these days.

Another time, I was about to go into the office and my mother’s situation needed me. I called in and I was able to slide my shift to go in later and finish later. That to me is… I appreciate that a lot because you never know when there's going to be an emergency. So it was so nice.

It's knowing that the company is sort of on your side about things like that and very understanding that it makes you less anxious and worried, you know, it gives you Peace of Mind.

And also in terms of having a little bit more time, I don't work nights anymore. I have a routine so I can plan future events much better. I can have more of a personal life and I don't feel so tired.

So I've got back to my swimming and running with the dog and yoga and it's easier for me to plan and to see my friends. It's made a huge difference.

How working at IC24 compares to working for the NHS

You'd like to think the NHS in general is flexible. There's flexible working. But given the workloads now and the lack of staff it has become impossible for the NHS to provide that for their staff. They do not have the capacity, they don't have the staff.

So that's a challenge for the NHS in general.

But also at IC24, they are also open to new ideas. If you are interested in looking at the system, if you have any new ideas about the queue, for instance, that we're working from the calls, or the way that we pull the calls off the queue - if you have any new ideas about that or anything that you want to bring to the company they're very open to listening to them.

I think that's a good thing. That's change. If something's been done the same way for 10 years and it hasn't worked, why are we still doing it that way? As I say, they're open to change at IC24. If something works better, then why not? That's quite refreshing.

Why I started a nursing career later in life

I don't have any glamorous reason for coming into nursing like some people do. It's always been my vocation to care. So I must say that it's because, you know, it's guaranteed work everywhere really.

I've always worked in healthcare and I’ve always moved around a lot - I've lived overseas. So, for me, I turned to nursing because it's an interesting career, it's very varied. You can go down so many different avenues, work for the NHS, work privately, work overseas.

Nursing is a good career to have because it enables you to work almost anywhere. That was my main reason for taking a nursing degree.

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Working for the NHS in ICU during Covid

Just before COVID began my mother's care needs were getting more and more complicated. At the time she was waiting for surgeries. I thought it would be better to work closer to come. She lives here in Kent, where I am at the moment.

So I decided to look for a job in the local hospital here and applied for a job in A&E. I only did that for a short period of time. COVID was spreading so my spell in A&E was very short before I ended up going to intensive care permanently. There was such an acute need for nurses in intensive care. And I stayed there until I left in January.

ICU during Covid was similar to a war zone (from what I've heard from people practising in war hospitals). Speaking to the nurses that had been in intensive care before COVID, apparently it was very different. It was nothing like the normal intensive care as they had known it.

It was intense every day, all of the time, for a very prolonged time. We saw a very high death rate and we didn't have the amount of staff that we needed to cope. We just did the best we could. It was just a matter of trying to keep people alive and that's the honest truth.

We all felt that we were not giving the care to 100% like we were taught to, and for obvious reasons. We just didn't have the capacity.

We became quite burnt out. Many of us that started together in ICU aren’t there now. I think there's only one or two that are still working in that intensive care now. We've all left.

My advice on nursing career pathways

What do you really want to do? Is it suitable for you? That’s what I ask when young people say they want to go into the medical profession or they want to go into a nursing job. I ask, how much do you know about the careers that are available?

It's not just about the practical side of a clinical job or talking to patients. It's the long, unsociable hours and, let's face it, the nursing pay as well, and the conditions that you're working in.

But what I will say is if somebody is in their job and they're not liking it, they have to ask themselves, am I happy?

If you're not feeling happy and you believe your job is causing you to not be happy, or you are physically or mentally unhealthy then change. One should never be afraid to change. Six months down the line in a new job or along a different career path you will look back and think, ‘Oh gosh, why did I stay in that job so long? You know, I should have done this before!’ Nothing's ever set in stone.

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About this provider
  • IC24
    Not For Profit

IC24 is a social enterprise enabling high-quality integrated care 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We provide clinical and non-clinical healthcare support to the general population and have served over 6,000,000 patients across our regions. As part of the NHS family, and as a not-for-profit organisation, we deliver added social value by reinvesting everything back into our patients, and our people. We provide primary care through GP surgeries and urgent care through our NHS 111, clinical assessment, and home visiting services.

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    • Laura Bosworth
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