UK’s first joint mental and physical health nurse appointed

Solent “Clinical matron” will champion patients’ health

By Ian Birch

In what’s thought to be the first post of its kind in the UK, Solent NHS Trust has appointed a clinical matron to champion both the mental and physical health of the Trust’s patients.

Jacqui Guile | St James Hospital Main EntranceFor a long time, charities such as Rethink Mental Illness have been campaigning for better recognition of the physical health needs of mental health patients and only last week, the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland recommended physical health check-ups for people on Community Compulsory Treatment Orders (CCTOs) – please see our report here.

Jaqui Guile, who is dually trained as a Registered Nurse and a Mental Health Practitioner, has been appointed to the role of clinical matron and has more than 27 years’ experience.

Acting Associate Director for Adult and Mental Health services for the Trust, Kieran Kinsella, said, “Clients who experience a mental illness sometimes end up with chronic physical health problems such as diabetes. This can be due to a number of reasons including medication or staff skills that mean, for instance, mental health staff may miss a physical care need.

“Bringing in Jaqui allows us to ensure that some of our clients within vulnerable groups are given fuller attention and improved access to health services that we are able to offer. We see her role as promoting good physical health and wellbeing within our clients as well. Jaqui will also be helping with the development of staff skills within mental service and will be a key link with doctors and other health professionals we work with to provide local healthcare.”

Solent NHS Trust has an annual revenue of £181 million and over 4200 staff.  It provides a range of community and specialist mental health services to more than a million people in Southampton, Portsmouth and parts of Hampshire.

Jaqui started as a volunteer at Queen Alexandra Hospital when she was 15 years old before enrolling for nurse training in 1984, qualifying three years later. She then trained as a mental health nurse, completing those studies in 1991.

She said of her new role, “Because of my dual training and local knowledge, I have had the privilege of seeing and working with patients for both their physical and mental health needs. As a Trust, we are delighted to be in a position to bring in innovative ideas to ensure we provide a holistic approach to services we offer.

"The Trust has given me the room to do everything we can to benefit our patients. It’s a challenge I am willing to take on. I will be out and about helping patients and their families access the right services for their physical and mental health needs. I am a resource for the service and will provide leadership to colleagues so won’t be spending my time behind a desk! I am a hands-on nurse and that’s exactly what I will be doing,” said Jaqui.

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