Why retired nurses are joining Norfolk's NHS reserve army

Binnie Barnes, Michell Prothero and Frank Shannon all became reservists to help during the pandemic.

Binnie Barnes, Michell Prothero and Frank Shannon all became reservists to help during the pandemic. - Credit: Norfolk and Waveney CCG

Three retired nurses have told why they are part of Norfolk's growing army of NHS reservists.

Around 90 people have so far stepped forward for the new scheme - with a target of 500 by 2023.

The Norfolk and Waveney Health and Care Partnership launched the scheme last year and plans to make it permanent as workforce remains an issue in the region.

Frank Shannon helped as a reservist at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. 

Frank Shannon helped as a reservist at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. - Credit: Norfolk and Waveney CCG

Among those who joined the scheme was RAF veteran and nurse Frank Shannon.

Mr Shannon helped with Covid vaccinations at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, having retired in 2016. 

He qualified as a nurse in 1978 and worked as a senior theatre nursing officer during the Kuwait War for the RAF, also working as theatre manager at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.


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He said the reason for joining the reservists was at unprecedented times it required "all hands to the pump".

Mr Shannon said: “All health care personnel have an inner drive and motivation to help people. I just wanted to do my bit, help out in any way, not let my clinical skills go to waste, and be part of a team again.”

Retired nurse Michelle Prothero

Retired nurse Michelle Prothero was a reservist and helped at the vaccination centre at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. - Credit: Norfolk and Waveney CCG

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Michelle Prothero was called up to support the NNUH with vaccinations in November. 

She said: "The more people we have doing this the quicker people will receive their vaccination."

Assisting vaccination efforts at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and across west Norfolk was Lynda "Binnie" Barnes.

Lynda 'Binnie' Barnes

Lynda 'Binnie' Barnes assisted vaccination teams at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and at doctor surgeries in West Norfolk. - Credit: Norfolk and Waveney CCG

She said: "I liked the small commitment required – just a minimum 20 shifts per year contract, which would go a long way towards my NMC registration hours, and I could easily fit a couple of shifts a month around my college role. 

"Despite my career break, it all came back to me very quickly. It feels like we’re at the cutting edge, and it’s a real privilege to be involved."

Mark Rodgerson, programme manager, said the scheme had broken down barriers between organisations.

He said: “Looking to the future, we will be deploying our team for annual flu vaccination programmes, potentially supporting staff on the wards with physical care for patients and any number of other initiatives.

"The initiative is financially sustainable, because it is less costly than agency staff, but the Reservists get to know the teams and patients they work with, so there is more continuity of care."







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