North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust is highlighting some inspirational stories from their female workforce to celebrate international women’s day and to inspire others to join the NHS.

The women featured in the mini campaign hail from a range of backgrounds and each have very different roles in the NHS. Each tell their own success stories detailing the struggles they have overcome, the people who have inspired them and the advice they would give to others. Each story is different and the Trust hopes that this series will help others (men and women) to consider a career in the NHS and particularly to inspire women.

Rachel Fulton cropped.jpgMeet Rachel Fulton, although Rachel always wanted to be a midwife she waited until later in her life to fulfil her dream. However she didn’t sit still in in the meantime. Rachel is currently the matron for midwifery services at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Trust. Here is her story


I have always wanted to be a midwife but wanted to experience childbirth personally so that I could relate toRachel Fulton.png the women I would be caring for. I was born in Canterbury, Kent where I lived until I was 15. I am an only child. It wasn’t meant to be that way but my mum endured cervical cancer which resulted in her not being able to have any more children. My dad was a housemaster at Kings School, Canterbury so we lived in the precincts of Canterbury Cathedral and I grew up surrounded by boys wearing wing collars and pinstripes. I gradually moved up North via a couple of years in Dallas and 18 months in France when I was 17, where I was a nanny for three French children under the age of 5, none of whom spoke a word of English!

I studied a degree in Psychology and Sociology at Leeds University before moving to Carlisle to be firstly the manager of Past Times and then Customer Service manager at Debenhams. I had my babies – two girls who are now 17 and 15 but will of course, always be my babies. Pregnancy is always life changing, but for me, as well as giving birth to a new life, it was also the birth of my new career. As most women desire, I hoped for a low risk, stress free pregnancy with a pool birth at the end of the nine months. The reality couldn’t have been further from that. I developed pre-eclampsia at 31 weeks and spent the next few weeks visiting the Maternity Day Assessment unit at CIC and ended up being induced at 38 weeks. My birth experience was very medicalised and on paper reads to be quite traumatic. However, the care I received by the midwives throughout, made the experience a positive one. I will never forget the midwife that cared for me in labour. She made such a difference to my birth and my life and made me determined to become that person to other women that she had been to me. I went back to college and completed a Health Studies course and volunteered as a breastfeeding peer supporter. As soon as the University of Cumbria launched the direct entry midwifery course, I applied and got offered a place. I did my three years midwifery training whilst juggling two toddlers and eventually qualified in 2011 with a first class honours degree.

The rest, as they say, is history……..

I started working as a band 5 Midwife at CIC and progressed to a band 6 by the end of my first year. I was soon encouraged by colleagues to apply to be a Band 7 Lead Midwife which combined the clinical midwifery skills with my previous management experience. I took great pleasure in motivating and supporting the staff on shift and ensuring that our women and families receive the highest and safest standard of care. I became the Maternity Ward Manager in 2019 and started becoming a lot more involved in the governance, quality and safety and risk management alongside the pastoral care and support. Last year I became the Matron for Maternity Services at CIC. Although I do try to cover clinically when needed, I miss delivering babies and supporting and empowering women during childbirth. However, I feel now, more than ever, with the support of others, that I can really drive the maternity team to improve themselves, their care and the service. I love the fact that we can make a difference, and we do so every day.

I truly feel that I have found my calling and feel blessed that I have found a job that I find both challenging and so very rewarding. The pace of the job is exciting, nothing is black and white, everything is grey which means there is never a dull moment. Working in such a dynamic environment is both exciting and terrifying, no two days are the same and no two labours are the same. The team I work within are an amazing support to myself and each other and the strength and resilience that they display is inspirational. We share so much…….happiness, sadness, excitement, fear and laughter. The word midwife means ‘with woman’ and I am so proud that I am in a position to support and improve the experience for our women in Cumbria.

If you are interested in joining the Trust you can find out more about career opportunities on our website.  Some of the roles similar to Rachel’s currently out to advert include:

Integrated midwife

SBCU nurse

Health visitor

Infant feeding advisor

Jen McCall cropped.jpgMeet Jennifer McCall, a single mum who juggles it all, is passionate about equality and diversity and renovates properties when not at work. 

Here is her story and why she thinks International Women’s Day is important:

Jen McCall.jpgMy name is Jennifer McCall and I am a Specialist Advisor for Inclusion at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust and I began working within the NHS 7 years ago. I have previously owned businesses and managed in hospitality and I also renovate property in my spare time.

I never planned on working for the NHS, I began as a temp after returning to work from starting a family and I worked in many different roles working up to my current role in the Workforce Directorate, also gaining a qualification in workforce planning.

Who has been a female inspiration in your life and why? Yassmin Abdel-Magied, she did a TED Talk that I thought was so empowering, if you haven’t watched it please do “What does my headscarf mean to you?”

What are you most proud of? I am proud of being a single mother who juggles it all

If you could give your younger self advice what would it be? Life will take you in all sort of directions, learn and take the opportunities as much as you seek them

Why is international women’s day important to you?  The NHS has a majority female workforce, this still needs to be seen more within certain job roles and leadership levels, this day is about empowering women, anything that can promote the empowering and progression of equal rights is so important.

If you are interested in joining the Trust you can find out more about career opportunities on our website.

There are a number of administration and clerical jobs currently advertised which is how Jennifer joined the Trust.

Evelyn2.jpgMeet Evelyn Nakachwa, 34, is a strong, independent and ambitious young woman. She was born in Uganda and has lived in Carlisle since June 2018.

She came to the city to pursue a career in nursing, following studies in Spain and Portugal.

She initially worked in home care and now works as an Intensive Care Nurse at the Cumberland Infirmary.

We caught up with her as she finished a 12 hour shift.

Evelyn.jpg“My job is everything to me. I love talking to people.”

As an International woman Evelyn is keen to mark International Women’s Day.

She said:

“I think the day is a celebration for women everywhere – to celebrate how far we’ve come and what we have achieved.

“Women have achieved a lot for their communities so we should mark that in some way.”

Evelyn recently had some of the hospital scrubs she wore during the COVID-19 pandemic feature in a fashion and collection at Tullie House Museum in Carlisle.

She said:

“I have been working since I was 16 and worn so many uniforms but earning these scrubs will forever be my proudest moment. If I told my younger self that I would feature at a museum someday, I wouldn't believe it. So, this opportunity is a really great honour for someone from my background; a migrant, a nurse, and most of all a woman of colour."

When not in work you can find Evelyn wandering the streets of Carlisle taking photographs.

She said:

“I love photography and find it helps me unwind. I also love art and painting.”

Working through a pandemic has meant Evelyn’s hobbies have become very important to her.

She said:

“I have had a lot of support and help and that has made everything more bearable. So many people have helped me and I try and use my hobbies so I have something else to focus on at the end of the day.”

If you are interested in joining the Trust you can find out more about career opportunities on our website.  Some of the roles similar to Alison’s currently out to advert include:

Staff nurse ITU

Sister/charge nurse for theatre unit

Consultant in emergency medicine

Meet Amanda SuttoAmanda Sutton photo.pngn, the Trust's Freedom to Speak up Guardian. She explains how she had to change her career path because she was made to feel like she was a woman in a man’s world. Here is her story and why she thinks International Women’s Day is important.

My name is Amanda Sutton and I am the Freedom to Speak up Guardian for North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust. I have been with the Trust 13 years, I am an advocate for LGBT+ and I am an active Branch officer locally and regionally in Unison. 

Tell us about your career and how you got into it: I trained as an electrical Engineer in college but left to go into administration and then management due to the bullying from my fellow engineering students, college tutors and work colleagues. 

As a 16 year old having moved out and living in the city away from my family and friends, I was not the confident person I am today.  I suffered a lot with my mental health but with the right help and support I found a new career which I loved. 

I miss my engineering work sometimes but I put my training to good use and am able to see things from a different perspective, working through issues in an analytical way and seeing the bigger picture.  From then on I wanted to make a difference no matter how small to ensure others didn’t face the same issues I did or that if they did they would know where to turn to.

Who has been a female inspiration in your life and why? As a teenager I listened to a lot of the female artist Pink’s music, I identified with her lyrics.  She is a bit of a geek and had such a good attitude to difficulties in her life.  She is also a huge LGBT+ ally and has done amazing charity work.  She was the inspiration I needed to not let the small stuff get to me, to be my own person and that I could achieve whatever I wanted.

What are you most proud of? This is a really hard question, I am proud of lots of things.  Very proud of my 3 wonderful children and my amazing fiancée Laura, but if I had to pick one thing I guess I would say that it was being successful at securing my current job, such a fantastic opportunity to help support staff and encourage them to speak up when things aren’t right, if I had the opportunity to raise the bullying issues back when I was at college perhaps I would now be working my childhood dream of being a NASA engineer in space.  I can now support those that face similar and give courage to others.

If you could give your younger self advice what would it be? Be brave, don’t sweat the small stuff and don’t let the muggles get you down.  It won’t always be bright and rosy but you will get through the bad days and there will ALWAYS be help for those that ask for it.

Why is international women’s day important to you? Our society and culture is ever changing.  We can all make the decision to call out inequality and raise the issue of inappropriate language and behaviours.  #ChooseToChallenge

If you are interested in joining the Trust you can find out more about career opportunities on our website.

There are a number of administration and clerical jobs currently advertised which is how Amanda joined the Trust.

Hannah Hinkley H&S.jpgMeet Hannah Hinkley.  She came back early from her maternity leave to help fight on the front line of COVID-19. She looks after patients in the community and also makes time for her 200 sheep. Here is her story and why she thinks International Women’s Day is important

My name is Hannah Hinkley and I am the District Nurse team lead, Keswick & Solway ICC. Hannah Hinkley.jpg

I have been qualified 10 years this year, I trained over in Newcastle and spent the first year working in Newcastle. I moved back to Cumbria and worked in Carlisle for 9 months. I then decided to move into Community Nursing. I worked in Workington Community Nurses and fell in love with the role. I live in Bothel with my Husband and daughter Millie. We also have 2 dogs and 200 sheep that we have in Bassenthwaite. We spend most of our weekends on the farm.

I am passionate about Community Nursing and its development. I completed my Community Specialist Practitioner qualification four years ago, with this it gave me the opportunity to become a team leader within Keswick & Solway ICC. I enjoy Community Nursing as it is a vital aspect of nursing and we care for patients in their own home and in residential homes. We work alongside GPs, community rehabilitation teams, adult social care and carers and families to ensure patients are safe at home. We ensure that patients attend hospital for an acute clinical need.

Who has been a female inspiration in your life and why? My female inspiration throughout my life is my gran and auntie- They have been a quiet inspiration, they have made the sacrifice to their own careers and passions so that their children and grandchildren have been able to succeed and thrive. I have also had my line manager Alison Kitson- She has been an inspiration throughout this pandemic and a leader that I look up to. She has supported me and coached me to develop myself as a manager. She has supported me to applying for my senior leadership masters apprenticeship. Alison has supported and guided all staff throughout the pandemic and has also had days of putting her uniform back on and seeing patients.

I am also inspired by my colleagues throughout this pandemic, everyone has pulled together and supported each other. We have worked across each ICC to help other areas and it has been extremely inspiring to see the continued fantastic work within the community with patients and each other.

What are you most proud of? One of my proudest moments is my little girl Millie she is almost 2 and I came back from maternity leave early last year and she was extremely resilient going into a nursery. I am proud of continuing my career and being a Mum.  

If you could give your younger self advice what would it be? Don’t be afraid. Think about mistakes that have been made and learn from them and become stronger.

Why is international women’s day important to you? It is important to me to make sure each generation knows what has been done in the past for women to be able to work and live the way we do.  What women have done in the past has enabled me to be able to raise my little girl and have a career at the same time.

If you are interested in joining the Trust you can find out more about career opportunities on our website. Some of the roles similar to Hannah’s currently out to advert include:

 Community hospital bank staff nurse

Community nurse team lead

Opportunities for newly qualified nurses

210210_NHS_Louise-Buchanan_007.jpgMeet Louise Buchannan, she explains how she didn’t let other people’s views of what, as a woman, she should or shouldn’t be stop her from following her dream of going into medicine. Here is her story and why she thinks International Women’s Day is important:

210210_NHS_Louise-Buchanan_002.jpgI am Louise Bucahnnan and I am a Consultant Cardiologist & Associate Medical Director Emergency Care & Medicine at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust. I grew up in West Cumbria, went to school in Workington. I have always wanted to do medicine – I wasn’t always encouraged though because I am a girl!! I did work experience here in the Cumberland Infirmary then went to the University of Dundee.

I always found cardiology an exciting specialty and where actually you could make a difference. Patients often really sick and can instantly make them better and make a difference. I did my cardiology training in Glasgow and Yorkshire and spent 18 months in Milan, Italy to gain further experience in coronary intervention prior to returning to the UK. Milan to Carlisle!! Again I wasn’t always encouraged to do interventional cardiology because I am a girl!! Less than 10% of interventional cardiologists in UK are female.

I have been a consultant here for 8 years and have had opportunities to be involved in education and training in addition to research. I found medical leadership a new challenge, completed NELA training and also won a scholarship from the European Society of Cardiology to do the ‘Women Transforming Leadership Programme’ at Oxford University, skills that I am now using as an associate medical director.  I am also on the council of the British Cardiovascular Society representing district general hospitals. Its important to realise that working in Cumbria does not preclude anything…

Who has been a female inspiration in your life and why? Alaide Chieffo – Professor of interventional cardiology – always encouraged and pushed me to do more. Made me realise doesn’t matter whether a women or an man in the field of interventional cardiology.

What are you most proud of? Completing my MD as a consultant – ‘Differences between women and men in cardiovascular disease’.

Becoming chair of the European Association of Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (EAPCI) Women Committee – focussing on ensuring women are given opportunities in interventional cardiology, increasing their visibility and also involvement in research into women with heart disease to ensure they are treated with the best therapies moving forwards.

If you could give your younger self advice what would it be?  Keep going, don’t give up.. Life’s easy when you live the hard way and hard if you try to live it the easy way..  

Why is international women’s day important to you? It’s been challenging to pursue a career in a very male dominated field. Often women not given opportunities or perceive that the opportunities aren’t there. It I simportant to show anything is possible and don’t be put off what you want to do.

If you are interested in joining the Trust you can find out more about career opportunities on our website.  Some of the roles similar to Louise’s currently out to advert include:

Consultant interventional cardiologist

Consultant in anaesthetics with major interest in ICU

Alison Mells.PNGMeet Alison Mells. Alison came back to nursing to help support the NHS through the Covid-19 pandemic. She has been working in the community supporting patients at home. She explains although it was a little intimidating stepping back into her nursing role she knew it was what she wanted to do.

Alison Mells was previously a District nurse with the upper Eden district nurses took some time out to concentrate on her family business but was compelled to return to her nursing roots when the pandemic hit in March of last year. Here Alison tells us about her decision to return to nursing to support the Trust and the NHS through the Covid-19 pandemic.

“When it became apparent in March last year that the NHS could become overwhelmed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I made enquiries about coming back to nursing to help out.  My nursing registration had lapsed, but for me, once a nurse always a nurse. If the NHS was struggling then I wanted to help. I originally thought that I would come back as a health care assistant and I made enquiries locally, where I used to work with the Upper Eden District nurses. I then found out that the Government had introduced emergency legislation to allow the NMC to create a temporary nursing register for nurses who wanted to support the response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I applied to go on the temporary register and my registration became effective at the end of March 2020. I was contacted by the NHS bring back staff campaign and was accepted on the nursing bank with NCIC in April 2020. I was excited and terrified at the same time!! I was worried about returning to practice and being able to update my skills and also the possibility of passing covid on to my family at home.  

“Before I stepped back into clinical practice I was asked to attend a training day at CIC called ‘Supporting the floor’. The course was for nurses returning to practice and for staff who were already in post who were being redeployed to other areas to help out due to Covid-19. The aim of the course was to update, refresh on some   essential clinical skills and to support confidence to deliver safe patient care. We covered topics such as basic life support, tissue viability, infection control, covid-19 and PPE, including donning and doffing safely, NEWS/sepsis overview.

“Although I was the only nurse at the training day returning to practice, I realised that I was not the only nurse who felt apprehensive in the current situation. This was so helpful as we were all able to voice our concerns and support each other. Attending the training gave me a solid foundation to start back into nursing practice.  

“I have been working as a community staff nurse with the Upper Eden district nursing team, based at Appleby, since May 2020.  Our amazing team lead Clare Martindale and all my colleagues have been so supportive, patient, and helpful.  I have sought advice and asked endless questions on numerous occasions and I would not be where I am today without them.  

“In my role as a community nurse, no two days are ever the same.  Working during the pandemic has at times been stressful, very sad, and extremely busy but also challenging and rewarding. Initially trying to care for patients whilst wearing PPE, with glasses steaming up and communicating with hard of hearing patients, through a mask and then visors was difficult. Learning to log everything electronically and agile working due to Covid-19 was a learning curve, whilst also dealing with changes to practice and updating my skills.

“Some patients have not seen loved ones for months, it is a unique time to be nursing. I feel privileged to be part of a hardworking and dedicated team supporting patients and their families through this difficult time. I have always enjoyed nursing in the community. I am so glad that I accepted the challenge to return.

“I have now applied to return to the permanent nursing register.”

If you are interested in joining the Trust you can find out more about career opportunities on our website.  Some of the roles similar to Alison’s currently out to advert include:

Casual registered nurse

Staff nurse (west)

Opportunities for newly qualified nurses

rachel Jamieson cropped.pngMeet Rachel Jamieson, she explains that the pandemic hit a crucial time in her studies for her degree but she met the challenge head on.

Here is her story and why she thinks International Women’s Day is important.

Rachel Jamieson H&S.jpgI am Rachel Jamieson and I am a Community and ICC Support Manager. I am 27 years old and currently studying for my degree in Business Management. When I am not in work, I do enjoy spending time with my nephews and dog Toby. I live in a small village in Dumfries and Galloway so have been lucky enough during the pandemic to enjoy some beautiful scenic walks close to home. At a weekend I do enjoy popping my heels on and having myself a small prosecco. 

I joined the NHS in Cumbria when I left school at 16 as an appointment clerk before taking on a number of roles in both the CCG and the Trust. My managers always inspired me to take on different courses internally and externally to support my development. My background was predominately within the acute before I started with the Integrated Care Communities (ICCs) nearly 3 years ago now where we are seeing a lot of changes and developments with between our Community and Acute sites.

Who has been a female inspiration in your life and why? Karren Brady. I think Karren is an inspiration for women but particularly young women who are trying to develop careers for themselves. Karren built her name and experience in predominantly a male environment. Following her success she has branched out into a number of different industries as well as supporting charities.

What are you most proud of? My biggest achievement for myself is managing to pass my final semester of uni before going into my dissertation. My final semester landed at the same time COVID-19 hit, juggling the pressures of work, lockdown and uni was extremely difficult and I still somehow managed to pass!

If you could give your younger self advice what would it be? Don’t take life so seriously, everything works out how it was meant to eventually just give it time

Why is international women’s day important to you? Personally I find international woman’s day important not only because it celebrates the successes of women but also highlights many inequalities women still face in this age. I think it can be a positive platform for sharing learning and empowering our voices.   

If you are interested in joining the Trust you can find out more about career opportunities on our website.

There are a number of administration and clerical jobs currently advertised which is how Rachel joined the Trust.

Anna Stabler.jpgAnna is the Chief Nurse at North Cumbria integrated care NHS Foundation Trust.  She has shared her career story for staff who would like to reach executive level in the NHS, to provide insight into the types of role that got her to where she is today; and offer some advice on how she feels that experience has benefitted the role she is in now.

“I always wanted to be a nurse. I gained my 5 O Levels; I worked at Lloyds bank to gain some experience of working with the public, and at the age of 19 secured a place at Shotley Bridge Hospital. Shotley was a district general and quite similar to Cumbria at the time, with some elements of specialist work, and I found it really interesting.

It was really difficult to find a nursing job, and I was the only person to get a job in my training year. Once I had completed training I knew that I wanted to be a midwife. At the time, you had to have two years of nursing experience first; so I gained a role on a genital-urinary medical unit, and I also worked in Gateshead on a female surgical ward, specialising in gynae and oncology.

After this I applied for midwifery and completed my training at Cambridge, with 6 month placements at Hitchin, Peterborough and Rosie hospitals. Once qualified, I wanted to specialise as a midwife sonographer.  I worked at Kings College in London, and on my days off I worked for free with Dr Nicolaides in foetal medicine at the Harris Birthright Centre and he taught me how to scan.

After this I secured a role at Guy’s with Professor Lindsey Allan in the foetal heart unit. I worked in midwifery sonographer research, and gained a senior midwifery role at King’s, and I ran the foetal medicine unit. This was my favourite job and I would go back to this.

I moved back up North and worked at Northumberland as the senior midwife, and there I led the development of scanning at 12 weeks, and implemented the introduction of drug and alcohol services locally. After this I completed a post grad in ultrasound.

I got married and had my daughter, Lucy, and I had a moment to reflect and I decided to take a break from midwifery. At this point I gained a degree in public health, specialising in health visiting. I worked in Cruddas Park and Byker, and at the time children’s centres were being developed and we opened a children’s centre. I also worked as health team coordinator, carrying out a health needs analysis and before our funding was pulled I became team leader for health and developed safeguarding adults services around that.

Although I moved away from midwifery as my fulltime role, throughout this time I maintained a bank midwife contract, and I always scanned. After my work in public health, I went back to midwifery and became a matron for foetal medicine, and I was part of some regional and national work around developing training for foetal heart scans. While in this role I also spent some time acting as head of midwifery.

I then underwent a development programme and completed a Masters in practice development and leadership. This then led to role as governance in surgery at Freeman, and I opened the centre for transplantation. The role helped to determine that I didn’t want to be a business manager in the longer term, it was too far from patients.

I took some time to reflect and think ‘what do I want to do?’.

After this I gained a role in NHS England as the head of quality for the North East and Cumbria, and I also acted up as the deputy director of nursing. I was there for 2 years, and during this role I also linked closely with North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust (NCUH).

After this I then became the deputy director of nursing at NCUH and I worked under two great chief nurses; however I felt I needed another step before reaching that goal, and I gained a role at the North Cumbria CCG.

I am now the chief nurse for NCIC. When I retire, I want to scan again and go back to foetal medicine.

I have loved all of the jobs I have done, I have never, not enjoyed a job; but if I could have my time again, I would work with Professor Kypros Nicolaides - being at the forefront of everything developing in foetal medicine, it was amazing.

I would say to anyone who wants to reach director level that I found it really helpful to gain experience working in primary care, acute services and a regulatory body, as that has given me the ability to understand how they think.”

If you are interested in joining the Trust you can find out more about career opportunities on our website.