Hospital’s most senior nurse retires

Liz Libiszewski. retiring from the James Paget University Hospital

Liz Libiszewski. retiring from the James Paget University Hospital - Credit: Archant

The James Paget University Hospital’s most senior nurse is retiring after more than 30 years of caring for patients.

Liz Libiszewski has been in charge of nursing at the hospital in Gorleston since 2013 – and is stepping down after a career which has seen her rise from student nurse to director of nursing.

The 55-year-old qualified as a state registered nurse in 1983 and began work on a vascular surgical ward at Nottingham University Hospital.

After a stint on a renal ward, Liz worked on an Intensive Care Unit (ICU), which opened her eyes to the challenges of working in nursing.

“It was the steepest learning curve of my career,” she said. “You are caring for people suffering from a range of illnesses who are in the most critical of conditions. Not only did you need a good understanding of physiology but you needed to be able to support and communicate with patients and their families. As an ICU nurse, very often you are the person who takes a relative to see their loved one for the first time after they have had a life-changing event.”

In 1989, Liz became a senior nurse at Lincoln County Hospital, in charge of a team of more than 40 nurses.

Promotion to divisional nursing manager followed in 1997 before a management restructure saw Liz take on a general management role overseeing delivery of different aspects of care across six hospitals in Lincolnshire.

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However, Liz recognised she wanted to return to the nursing fold and, after a senior nursing role at Grantham Hospital, was promoted to her first board-level job as director of nursing at Kettering Hospital in 2008.

Scroll forward five years – with a short detour as director of quality and performance at Barnsley Hospital – and Liz arrived at the James Paget in August 2013 to join newly-appointed chief executive Christine Allen at the helm of the hospital.

“I could tell straight away that the James Paget was a friendly hospital, with staff committed to giving the best possible care to their patients,” she said. “There are some fantastic people here - and they are genuinely proud of this organisation and the job they do.”

During her three years, Liz lists the introduction of the hospital’s two lead nurses as her key achievement – a move that firmly embedded nursing expertise at the heart of the hospital’s clinical management team.

And her proudest moment came last year when she learned the Care Quality Commission (CQC) had rated the hospital as “good” following a major inspection.

Now, following a break to travel around Europe with husband David, Liz wants to lend her expertise to the NHS in terms of fostering stronger links with learning and education – a path she has already developed through her work with the University of East Anglia, which honoured her with the title of Visiting Professor for her contributions to the School of Health Science.

She said: “Nursing is such a rewarding job. To be able to say at the end of the day that you have cared for someone as you would a member of your own family, and to see the gratitude in their eyes, gives you a tremendous sense of satisfaction.”

Liz retires today, Friday, and the hospital’s deputy director of nursing, Julia Hunt, will be taking the role of acting director of nursing.