Sue Hansford, Head of Service

Sue is Head of Service at Spectrum Integrated Sexual Health in Wigan and Leigh. She answers some questions below on her experience and advice for anyone considering a career in nursing.

What was your route to this role?

I began nursing in 1979 at North Manchester General Hospital and qualified as an SRN in 1981. I had particularly enjoyed the brief placement I’d had on the maternity unit so began my midwifery training there after working as a staff nurse on a care of the elderly unit. I completed my “family planning” qualification and my smear sampling course whilst at North Manchester working as a staff midwife and then as a midwifery sister.  I also continued to do my sexual health work on a part time basis.

In 1989 then went on to become a community Midwife at Tameside General Hospital. I was still working in sexual health in both adult and young people’s clinics. I became a Supervisor of Midwives and completed my BSc Hons Midwifery. I then became a lecturer Practitioner in Sexual Health at Manchester University, as a secondment from my midwifery role.  I loved this role as I have always been enthusiastic about promoting sexual health. At the same time, I began working for Brook who were specialists in young people’s sexual health. I continued with my professional development whilst in this role and completed my Master’s Degree in Health Care Ethics and Law.

I decided that I wanted to work in sexual health full time and was successful in gaining a post as a Lead nurse in a community sexual health service in St. Helens in 2005. I stayed in this post for 11 years seeing the service change from being a PCT based service to becoming an integrated sexual health service in an acute trust. Working as part of an integrated service allowed me to start to develop different skills as part of a GUM service. I also did a management certificate, prince 2 project management and a mediation course with ACAS. I continued to work clinically in sexual health despite my management role. I completed my NMP course in 2016.

In 2016 I took up a new role as Nurse Manager with Brook in Oldham and then Manchester. I really enjoyed going back to work with young people and with Brook again. My role was both clinical and managerial. I moved to my current post in July 2018.

What prompted you to do this role?

I have always had an interest in sexual health from when I worked as a midwife. I wanted to be able to give women in my care reliable advice on contraception and their sexual health. I also like working with young people to empower them to be able to make informed choices about their sexual health.

How do you see yourself developing your skills?

I would like to use my NMP qualification more within this service. I enjoy management and would like to develop my management skills as Head of Service.

What is your long-term career plan?

My long term plan is to continue to work in sexual health. I would like to encourage more nurses to think of sexual health as a career option rather than an addition to their substantive role and look at ways in which we can encourage nurses into this type of service so that skills and expertise can be passed on to a new generation of nurses.

What advice would you give someone thinking about moving to work in sexual health?

I would say that it is important to get a robust general training first to be sure that you want to specialize in this field. You will need not just theoretical knowledge but practical experience too. You will also need a non-judgemental approach and a desire to be able to empower patients by giving them knowledge to be able to make informed choices.

What do you most enjoy about this area of care?

Every day is different and sexual health is a very dynamic area of nursing. It is a very rewarding area of nursing to work in.

To find out more about joining the Spectrum team, view our current vacancies here.