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‘Hi my name is Dave Bennett and I joined the team at the Nuffield Vale Hospital in Hensol (it’s near Cardiff) just over a year ago as a scrub practitioner. The year has flown by! I started as a qualified ODP with only a couple of years practice under my belt and finished as a Surgical First Assistant or SFA in a senior role. I said at interview that I wanted to progress quickly by undertaking training courses and the management certainly came through for me.

When I was asked by Matron to if I would like to share my experiences I definitely thought it would be useful to those thinking about a change as I know from experience that it is not easy to leave the NHS in order to enter the often portrayed dark side of private hospital healthcare. In the NHS I was settled, had a good team and enjoyed the specialities that I was involved in. Sounds good but the problem was I was never going to go anywhere quickly! Band 6 jobs were not going to be accessible and further training was non-existent. Staffing and financial restraints in the NHS were always going to hold me back so a change was needed.

So, last year I was a 2 year qualified band 5 working in head and neck surgery and now I’m a qualified SFA assisting surgeons across multiple specialities and providing leadership in theatre. Becoming a SFA means a lot to me because it has taught me that be putting the effort in will more often than not end in career related rewards. I’ve been in the theatre environment for nearly 16 years now, working for ten years as an HCA then qualifying as an ODP and now a SFA. It proves that no matter where you start you can keep raising your game to get to where you want to and I don’t intend stopping here! By joining Nuffield health and having the support of the dedicated theatre teams I work with and senior management I have definitely progressed and that is why I joined Nuffield Health.

After completing the SFA course through De Montfort University to actually being employed as an SFA was important as I wanted to be in an advanced role that gave me more responsibility in the theatre department. In this role I am not just restricted to assisting the surgical team but still scrub for many procedures which works for me as skills can be lost if not practiced regularly. For me the key part of the role of a SFA is putting the knowledge and skills gained through the training into use in the clinical setting. It new to me but no one will ever be a master of assisting a surgeon after just a few attempts but I’m getting there with some and the others surgeons will always be hard work!

As I mentioned earlier taking the giant step from the NHS to the private sector is not easy and it won’t be for everyone and there are benefits that come with both sectors of healthcare. For me it has worked out perfectly both professionally and in my private life. I have gained further training not available to me in the NHS and with that I have secured a better salary. I have 3 youngish children so not having to work loads of nights (I hate nights) and weekends has improved my family life no end. Overall one of the biggest benefits of moving to The Vale Hospital is the theatre team I have joined as rarely will you come across such a hard working knowledgeable group of individuals who provide quality care for the patient through hard work and efficiency.

So here is my advice to anyone thinking about joining Nuffield Health. If you’re thinking about it then you’re probably not completely satisfied in your current role. If you’re not satisfied then you probably I striving to achieve more professionally. If this is the case then Nuffield Health can be the place for you as it has been for me!

Give it a go!’

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