Nurses’ Day 2018: Celebration is a family affair for mental health nurse brothers

PUBLISHED: 16:52 10 May 2018 | UPDATED: 16:52 10 May 2018

Rob and Andy Mack. Photo: NSFT

Rob and Andy Mack. Photo: NSFT


For brothers, Andy and Rob Mack, Nurses’ Day will be a family affair.

Andy Mack (left) with his brother on top of Tryfan, Snowdonia, taken late last year. Photo: Norfolk and Suffolk NHS FTAndy Mack (left) with his brother on top of Tryfan, Snowdonia, taken late last year. Photo: Norfolk and Suffolk NHS FT

Andy, 42, and Rob, 37, who grew up in Blofield, near Norwich, are both registered mental health nurses who use their nursing skills to help them in the management roles they both have at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT).

Andy is the locality manager for improving access to psychological therapies (IAPT) and wellbeing in Norfolk and Suffolk and his brother is locality manager for children, families and young people in Norfolk and Waveney.

Andy joined the trust in 2001 after qualifying as a mental health nurse in London and working there for two years before switching to management in 2007.

His brother has spent his entire 15-year NHS career working for NSFT, the first nine years as a nurse and since then in various management roles.

Rob (left) was about seven and Andy 12 on a family holiday. Photo: Norfolk and Suffolk NHS FTRob (left) was about seven and Andy 12 on a family holiday. Photo: Norfolk and Suffolk NHS FT

Andy, who lives in Postwick, near Norwich, said: “My first job was as a forklift truck driver in Wroxham but after a couple of years I felt it was no longer for me.

“I’d always had an interest in the health sector and enjoyed helping others. My mum had also always told me that I’d be a good nurse and so I thought I would see what working for the NHS was like.

“My first experience of it was working for about 18 months as a health care assistant with people with profound learning disabilities at Little Plumstead Hospital.

“I found it really humbling to be in a position where I could make a real difference to the lives of patients and enjoyed the satisfaction that the work provided me.

“I soon got the sense that nursing was the career for me, which is why I went off to London to qualify as a mental health nurse.

“My first role in management was as a team leader with the Norwich crisis resolution and home treatment team, which introduced me to the concept that as a manager I could influence and affect the lives of more service users and their families positively.

“Being a nurse has made me more human and I use the skills that I learned as a nurse, such as how to empathise and effectively engage with people, on a daily basis as a manager.”

Rob, who lives in Fleggburgh, near Great Yarmouth, said: “The skills and values you learn as a nurse don’t leave you when you stop working clinically, and I use them in my everyday work as a manager.

“They influence how I communicate with people and the values that I developed as a nurse, such as compassion, humility and thoughtfulness, help me in my role as a manager.

“When I was growing up, nobody ever suggested to me a career in mental health and, in truth, I didn’t really know what mental health was. Children nowadays are far more aware of mental health.

“My first job was working in a boatyard for three years. However, I had family members who experienced mental health difficulties and while I was working in the boatyard, Andy was qualifying as a mental health nurse, and these factors clearly influenced me.

“Through my career, I have always seen how many challenges for people begin in their early lives and within their families.

“It was for this reason that it has always been my ambition to work with and for children and young people as I have absolute belief that this is where we can make the biggest impact on people’s lives. It is also some of the most emotionally challenging work I have ever been involved in.”

The brothers have even worked together on one of the wards at Hellesdon Hospital, Norwich – but make an effort to not only talk about work when they meet up.

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