Janice Barrett won the new leader prize at the Star Awards, the Trust's annual recognition event.

Nov 29th 2019

Bringing patients, care and care givers together, Janice is leads the way on patient access

Janice Barrett, Senior Sister and Lead Nurse for Single Point of Access (SPA)

NHS heroes come from many backgrounds and travel many different paths to work in the NHS, and this week’s subject has gone from the fast-paced world of finance to becoming an award-winning investor in patient care.

Janice Barrett started her career as a foreign exchange trader at a bank in Jamaica. Now she works at one of the busiest NHS Trusts in the West Midlands and is the first port of call for GPs who are referring patients needing urgent care.

Janice, from West Bromwich explained: “It’s definitely a very different role from what I did in Jamaica. When I came to the UK in 2000 I started working in a nursing home as a care assistant and I decided that caring for people was something I wanted to do, even though my background was in business. I think whatever career I could have gone into it would have to involve working with people in some capacity as it is that connection with people’s lives I find fascinating.”

The mum-of-two, now based in Sandwell, retrained as a nurse and worked her way up to a Senior Sister role at Sandwell General Hospital’s Emergency Department, where she was also Paediatric Lead Nurse.

Now, when not studying for her Masters degree, she is the lead on Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust’s Single Point of Access initiative – known as SPA for short – which was launched at the end of 2018. GPs can call Janice’s team about a patient who then carry out a telephone assessment. They will liaise with colleagues in speciality areas, to ensure the patient is seen in the correct department.

“Before the service was introduced last November, these patients would generally arrive in our Emergency Department with a letter of referral from their GP,” said Janice.

“However, the Single Point of Access service is there to improve the patients’ journey ensuring that they access the appropriate care by the right teams in as timely a manner as is possible. It allows us to help provide care in a wider sense and helps establish greater links between primary and secondary care providers.”

Despite it being only a year old, the team has been highly praised within the Trust, receiving a nomination in this year’s Star Awards – the Trust’s annual awards. Whilst Janice herself won in the New Leader category, something she is immensely proud of, especially given the service is set-up with no pre-existing guide.

STAR Awards 2019: New Leader Award winner Janice Barrett receiving her award.

“Single Point of Access is without a doubt, one of the main highlights of my career so far. Having that opportunity to be part of a new service which is already making a difference to the care of our patients is extremely rewarding and there are already plans in place to move the service forward with the Clinical Care Group (CCG).”

That said, Janice also speaks fondly of her time in the Emergency Department and how even the smallest of gestures can mean so much to people: “It wasn’t a great deed or anything, but I do remember giving a mother some sandwiches and squash to take away because she was in a difficult situation and that was what was immediately available to me. I was rewarded with a warm tearful hug and this reminded me of how basic kindness is not about how many qualifications you have. We do what’s right.

“Now my focus is to make sure that SPA continues to be a worthwhile service and expands further to incorporate other areas within the Trust and the wider community. It’s a project that will benefit not only patients, and their families, but also our partners and other services within our area.”

So who is Janice’s hero? “I am a huge fan of Maya Angelou, (American poet, singer and civil rights activist) and also of Elizabeth Garrett-Anderson (the first female doctor to qualify in England). These women were able to achieve during a time when the odds were stacked against them. This re-enforces a sense of determination that if they could do it then, what is my excuse?”

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