Bug-busting nurse retires from North Lincolnshire health trust

Viv (third left).
Viv (third left).

A nurse who started her nursing career winning an award for best nursing cadet at the age of 17 is hanging up her uniform on a high after being presented with a prestigious national nurse of the year accolade.

Viv Duncanson, assistant director of infection prevention and control for Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust, has been waging war against bugs and infections across Scunthorpe, Grimsby and Goole hospitals for the past 26 years.

She is retiring from the Trust in January having won the national infection prevention and control nurse of the year award in 2015.

Viv said: “I have had a fantastic career and am definitely going out on a high. I have worked with some incredible, inspiring people over the last 26 years here at NLaG and nationally. I will be sad to leave my full time role but am looking forward to a new chapter in my life.”

Viv started her nursing career as a cadet nurse at the age of 16 in a large mental health hospital in the Midlands and won a nursing cadet of the year award a year later.

At the age of 18 she donned a new uniform having joined the Royal Air Force. She said: “I entered the service as a pupil nurse and spent two years getting an excellent grounding learning about nursing.”

She started work at Grimsby hospital in January 1980 as a student nurse and qualified in 1983. Nurse training included working at the old general hospital in town and Springfield hospitals in addition to the former Scartho Road hospital.

Viv said: “One of my memories was working on the surgical ward on Garth Anderson where we had to push patients to and from theatre across the service road/car park on a theatre trolley in all weathers, including one occasion when three inches of snow had fallen on the ground.”

On qualifying she went to work in the town’s brand new hospital in Scartho Road as a staff nurse helping to set up the new intensive care unit. She said: “I got my first sister post 18 months later. This is when the importance of team work really became apparent to me, as I had the best of everything: supportive nursing, domestic, medical and allied health professional teams, and three role model ward managers. We delivered a gold standard of care to patients and their relatives. It was exciting times opening up a brand new ITU.”

Viv’s career took a change of direction in 1989 when she took the post of senior nurse in infection control.

“Infection prevention has held my interest and motivation for the last 26 years and I can honestly say I have learned something new every day. I consider myself very fortunate throughout my career, having had the support of the Trust to complete a BSc and a Master’s degree in nursing,” said Viv.

Her other highlights include: being part of winning the inaugural national infection control team of the year award 2003; a secondment to the Department of Health where she helped draft pandemic influenza infection control guidelines on behalf of the team at Public Health England, being chosen to deliver the infection control session as part of a national study tour that covered England, Wales and Scotland, and being awarded the chief executive special recognition award in 2015.

Talking about what she will now do, Viv said: “I have a bucket list. I enjoy travelling and have a few places on my list including New Zealand, India and Japan which I intend to visit over the next two years. I also enjoy walking and going to the gym. My husband and I have just taken up dancing and so it will be interesting to see how this progresses.”