Throughout 2020 we’re celebrating the ‘Year of the Nurse and Midwife’ – recognising the significance of their varied and integral roles – including high quality care and essential services delivered.
This time, we spoke to Sofie French from the Infection Prevention and Control team.
2020 will be a year to remember…not just as the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, but particularly from an Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) perspective as we play our part in managing the largest public health crisis in our generation as a result of the COVID-19.
I first worked as a Staff Nurse in Intensive Care after graduating in 2011, and quickly realised that I wanted to specialise in IPC. After joining the IPC team in Dumfries at the Royal Infirmary in 2012, I led on a sepsis quality improvement project which gained national interest and allowed me to present at international conferences.
In 2015 I moved to NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (GGC) as a Senior Infection Control Nurse, and completed my MSc in IPC. Working at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital was interesting, not just because of its size but because of challenges faced by the IPC team on a daily basis. I went on to provide senior support and leadership to the Infection Control Team in NHS Borders and found that working in three health boards across Scotland allowed me to understand the challenges faced nationally. This stood me in good stead when I joined the IPC team at NHS National Services Scotland (NSS) in 2019.
My role in NSS is incredibly diverse – one day I’ll be filming IPC educational videos and the next I’ll be providing specialist advice and support to NHS boards on outbreak management. We have planned programmes of work, such as continuing to develop and maintain our National Infection Prevention and Control Manual, but some of our work is about reacting to the needs of health boards, like supporting the COVID-19 Response team – the pandemic has meant we’ve needed to react quickly as the situation evolved daily, sometimes hourly. During time this I was also deployed to the NHS Louisa Jordan to assist with the operational phase from an IPC perspective.
As an IPC team we’ve been at the forefront of Scotland’s COVID-19 response, providing evidence for the UK IPC COVID-19 guidance, reviewing data, and working with the Scottish Government and UK emergency response groups as well as individual boards and clinicians on the front line. We lead the national agenda for IPC in Scotland.
While the pandemic has certainly been challenging, it has also raised the profile of nursing, particularly infection prevention and control specialist nursing. Infection control is everyone’s business and I hope more people will be interested in this varied and rewarding specialty. NSS is a great place to work as a specialist nurse, as we lead the national service working across the whole of Scotland and internationally too, contributing to the national IPC effort.