Nurses’ Day 2018: Celebrating 40 years in the NHS

Sarah Beart as a young nurse. Photo: West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group

Sarah Beart as a young nurse. Photo: West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group - Credit: West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group

A West Norfolk nurse practitioner who has helped thousands of poorly children and adults is celebrating her 40th anniversary with the NHS.

Sarah Beart and Director of Nursing Sarah Jane Ward. Photo: Victoria Fear

Sarah Beart and Director of Nursing Sarah Jane Ward. Photo: Victoria Fear - Credit: Victoria Fear

Sarah Beart still has the same passion to help people as she did on her first day of training on April 10, 1978.

From a young age, Sarah and her identical twin Helen both set their sights on being nurses.

During her four decades of service, Sarah has worked as a staff nurse in a children's ward, a health visitor and finally as a nurse practitioner at Wootton's Surgery, along with achieving numerous qualifications.

Sarah, who has also donated a kidney to her brother Andrew after he went into kidney failure, has shared her story as part of the local celebrations to mark Nurses' Day, which aims to promote the importance of nursing along with thanking the thousands of dedicated nurses for their work.

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Sarah, who is married to Jonathan and has a 21-year-old daughter Sophie, said: 'Nursing is a very rewarding career as I like to be able to help people. Sometimes all they need is for someone to squeeze their hand, plump a pillow or simply to just listen. Giving people the help and care they need is incredibly rewarding.

'I have enjoyed working in acute and primary care but it is always important to remember that you are not just treating the illness but that you also think of the impact on the patient and people around them.'

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Sarah and her sister wanted to become nurses from the age of seven after being inspired by popular television shows like Emergency Ward 10 and Dr Kildare.

Sarah first became a medical secretary for three years, working at the old King's Lynn Hospital for a consultant radiologist.

Sarah said: 'I enjoyed working in the hospital but when I was 21 I realised that I really wanted to be a nurse and enrolled on an SRN course at Nottingham City Hospital.

'I've always been very compassionate and have lots of empathy for people so nursing was a natural choice for me.

'I absolutely loved the course and I was lucky to have a brilliant tutor.'

After completing the three-year course, Sarah returned to King's Lynn and worked in the new hospital's Children's Ward as a staff nurse for 18 months.

Sarah said: 'I absolutely loved working in paediatrics which inspired me to learn more and gain my Registered Sick Children's Nurse qualification.

'Working with children is very rewarding. When they become ill, they go down very quickly but they also bounce back at the same rate.'

Sarah went to Westminster to complete the year-long course and went onto work in a neo-natal unit in London.

But a desire to learn more encouraged Sarah to do her health visitor's training in Ipswich and she later worked in the Downham Market area.

After getting married to Jonathan in 1988, the pair moved to Hertfordshire where Sarah became a Practice Nurse.

When nurse practitioners were introduced to the NHS in the 1990s, in order to utilise nurses' specialist knowledge and to improve services for patients, Sarah worked hard to become a Nurse Practitioner.

She also became a nurse prescriber and returned to the West Norfolk area and settled at the Wootton surgery 10 years ago.

Sarah said: 'The nurse practitioner role allows me to utilise all the skills which I have gained during my children's, health visitor and general nursing training.

'I think it is a good role as we are able to work closely and support the GPs and we also bring different skills which also benefits the patients. We make a really good team and I would say working with GPs has been one of the highlights of my career.

'Being a nurse prescriber is one of the biggest differences I have seen in my career. Being able to prescribe independently saves me going to a GP to sign the prescription, but we are also able to flag up serious illnesses and help get the patients seen quicker.

'Nursing is a fantastic career and I would definitely recommend it to other people.'

Sarah has been praised by Sarah Jane Ward, director of nursing and quality assurance at West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group. The CCG is responsible for buying health services to meet the needs of local people.

She said: 'I would like to thank Sarah for her commitment to supporting and providing care and treatment to countless patients during a tremendous 40 year career.

'Having worked in the community, in a hospital in a local surgery with adults and children, being able to hold her own caseload and prescribe medications and treatments, Sarah has shown what an interesting and varied career nursing can be.

'Nurses across all settings make a huge difference to the lives of our patients, particularly during the most difficult times of their lives. The role and value of nurses cannot be under-estimated.'

• If anyone is interested in a career in nursing or would like more information on returning to practice contact recruitment and retention nurse Debbie Frost by emailing or call 01553 614969.

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