Louise Eastland, Modern Matron of the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit, The Portland Hospital
What do you do?
I’m the senior nurse on the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) which looks after children from birth up to about sixteen. It’s my job to manage all the nurses on the unit and make sure things run smoothly.
Practically, what does that entail?
I generally work a standard Monday to Friday, nine to five week, and in that time, I try to attend most ward rounds and make sure that the staff, children and their parents know that I’m around if they need to talk to me about anything at all. I think it’s important that, even though I’m a manager, I still maintain a clinical focus, so a couple of times a month, I’ll do a nursing shift – which is a 12-hour day or night shift.
Did you always want to be a nurse?
Yes, I went into hospital with pneumonia when I was seven years old and had a really nice nurse looking after me. I decided there and then that that was what I wanted to do when I grew up.
What training did you have to do?
After taking my A-Levels I went to nursing college in London. The first part of my course was more generalised and covered adult nursing as well as maternity nursing, but then the focus was entirely on paediatric nursing.
Where did you work before The Portland?
After I graduated I went to the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading and worked as a general paediatric nurse for a year, then I spent time at London’s University College Hospital working in paediatric oncology, before moving to PICU at St Mary’s in Paddington.
Why did you want to move into the private sector?
I’d enjoyed working within the NHS but wanted to gain an understanding of the differences between the NHS and the private sector. I’ve now been here around eight months and I think that the working environment is very pleasant. One of the great advantages of working in the private sector is that changes to improve services can be made very quickly.
And what was the attraction of The Portland?
I came for a visit and was very impressed with the place. All the people I met were very friendly and they placed a high importance on patient safety and quality of care which really chimed with my philosophy.
What’s the best part of your job?
I enjoy the clinical aspects of what I do. But now that I’m in a management role as well, I can work on the big picture too. I can influence the way that things are done to improve outcomes and the experiences that our patients, their families and the staff here have, which is very satisfying. Ultimately, working hard to make a patient feel better and then seeing them go home with their family is very rewarding.