‘I just couldn’t walk away’ - Hospital’s nursing director returns to work just 24 hours after retirement

Julia Hunt, former director of nursing at the James Paget, who returned to work just 24 hours after

Julia Hunt, former director of nursing at the James Paget, who returned to work just 24 hours after retiring Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

The retirement of a long-serving director at one of the region’s hospitals lasted little more than 24 hours - after she returned to work to support the team through the coronavirus pandemic.

Julia Hunt, who was director of nursing at the James Paget in Gorleston, retired after 32 years at the hospital at the end of March, having worked her way through the ranks from a student nurse to director of nursing.

However, a little over 24 hours later she agreed to return to work in a new role to help the hospital in its fight against Covid-19 and support staff through what she described as “times of high anxiety”.

She has taken on the role of director of infection control, which will see her play a key role in managing how the hospital copes with the outbreak, while also providing support for her successor Paul Morris.

She told BBC Radio Norfolk: “I was very much looking forward to retirement but I just could not walk away from all of my colleagues and friends through this pandemic, hence the 24-hour retirement.

“Infection control was a key part of my work as director of nursing but with the enormity of this pandemic this enables me to have much more of a focus and allow my colleague Paul Morris, the new director of nursing, to focus on all the other areas of the role.

“My new role will be to support staff in being prepared for the pandemic, making sure there is appropriate education and guiding support to my team through what really is a time of high anxiety for everyone.”

Mrs Hunt, who was born in Great Yarmouth, joined the hospital in 1988 and had a variety of roles, including specialising as a palliative care nurse and working as a ward sister, before taking on the director of nursing role in 2016.She added: “It is difficult to know [when I can retire] but what I do know is I will be able to step away when the chief executive and others feel I have served my purpose, helped the planning and supported the team.”