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Sheffield chief nurse to retire after 32 years ‘outstanding’ contribution

Professor Dame Hilary Chapman
Professor Dame Hilary Chapman

Professor Dame Hilary Chapman, Chief Nurse at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation has announced she will retire in August after 32 years of nursing.

Colleagues have described Dame Hilary as ‘one of the best Chief Nurses in the NHS’ and an ‘inspiration to nurses and midwives.’

Hilary is one of the country’s most prominent Chief Nurses, and has made major contributions to health policy, healthcare delivery and system reform, most notably co-leading on the development of the Safer Nursing Care Toolkit.

The toolkit is now used widely in hospitals throughout the UK and helps determine safe nurse staffing levels on acute wards depending on how sick or dependent patients are. Hilary trained as a nurse in Sheffield in the 1980s, and then went on to work at the Northern General Hospital as a staff nurse in cardiothoracic surgery and a critical care sister.

Prior to returning to Sheffield in 2006 as Chief Nurse, she was Chief Nurse at Kettering General Hospital and University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire Trust. At Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust she regularly undertakes at least one clinical shift every month which she describes as being “one of the most important and valuable things” she does.

Hilary added: “The decision to retire has been a hard one because there is no better career than nursing and to lead such a fantastic team of nurses and midwives here at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals is an absolute privilege and joy. I have only been able to achieve the things I have because I have worked with incredible teams throughout my working life. A good nurse and leader is shaped by those that he or she works alongside and is inspired by. I have been very fortunate to work with some of the best both locally and nationally. The opportunities for nurses and midwives now have never been more varied or exciting. Of course there are challenges but at the end of the day there is nothing more satisfying than knowing you have made a difference to someone who is often at their most vulnerable. Our nurses and midwives deserve our respect and appreciation for all that they do, day in and day out right across the NHS.

In my current role at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals I have also had the privilege of working with a fabulous team of Hotel Services and Estates professionals. I have learned so much from them and it has been a delight to be part of such an innovative and committed team of people who genuinely put patients at the heart of all they do. I will miss all of my colleagues and friends at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals and those who have become respected colleagues throughout my whole career. However I am also looking forward to enjoying a new chapter in my life which I am sure will bring new experiences and opportunities.”

Sir Andrew Cash, Chief Executive of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “We have been very fortunate to have one of the best Chief Nurses in the NHS supporting our Trust, ensuring we deliver the best possible nursing and midwifery care to over 2 million patients every year. As well as Hilary’s longstanding contribution to the nursing profession locally and nationally, she is an exceptional leader whose impact reaches far beyond nursing. Patients are at the centre of everything Hilary does and she is regularly seen working on the wards or in our community services to learn about the work teams are doing or how care is being delivered. The example that she sets as a highly visible nurse leader is an inspiration to all of us. Nationally she is widely recognised as one of the top clinical leaders within the NHS, but to so many people including myself she is also a trusted advisor and valued friend.”

Tony Pedder, Chairman of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust added: “Hilary is an excellent role model for all those entering the healthcare professions, and has brought great benefits to the city of Sheffield and the surrounding region through her pursuit of the highest quality of nursing provision.”

Professor Jane Cummings, Chief Nursing Officer, NHS England added: “Hilary is an exemplary nurse leader who has contributed locally, nationally and internationally to our profession. She has a huge amount of skill, knowledge and expertise and is respected by nurses and midwives across England. She will be sorely missed but I would like to take this opportunity to thank Hilary for all she has done, pay tribute to her and wish her well in her retirement”

Janet Davies, Royal College of Nursing, Chief Executive & General Secretary said: “Hilary has been a strong role model for nurses and her leadership has made a real difference to nursing care as well as supporting and developing leaders of the future.”

Ruth May, Executive Director of Nursing, NHS Improvement said: “We are going to lose a legend!”

Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies said: “Dame Hilary has been an exemplar nursing leader and her contribution to the National Institute for Health Research was key to its establishment. Dame Hilary’s work on drug resistant infections, research and patient safety has been truly outstanding. I wish her all the best with her well-deserved retirement.”

As well as being made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the Queen’s New Year Honours, Hilary was awarded a CBE for her services to nursing in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List in 2012. She is a visiting Professor at Sheffield Hallam University, an honorary Doctor of Medicine at the University of Sheffield and became a Deputy Lieutenant of South Yorkshire last year.