Chief nurse, deputy chief executive of Health Education England and deputy chief nursing officer for England, Professor Mark Radford CBE has received an honorary doctorate from the University of East London (UEL).
During the Winter Graduation ceremony at the Docklands campus today, Professor Radford received the doctorate in science from Vice Chancellor and President of UEL Professor Amanda Broderick.
A qualified nurse since 1994, Professor Radford has led a varied career spanning clinical practice, education, research and leadership.
After he completed his nursing degree, Professor Radford went on to specialise in trauma and emergency surgery.
This led him to work on advanced nursing practice development and he eventually became a nurse consultant in emergency and trauma surgery in one of the first roles in the country to help drive forward nursing practice.
Professor Radford became chief nurse of a large teaching hospital in the Midlands and led the organisation before undertaking national roles such as deputy director of nursing.
For the last three years he has been the deputy chief nursing officer and chief nurse of Health Education England, the national organisation responsible for training and education of nurses and midwives.
During his career, he has also been an academic and has taught at universities, including supporting the advancement of healthcare students at the University of East London.
“I believe strongly in the education of health students and the links between supporting students both out in practice as well as back at universities. I am incredibly proud to receive this honorary doctorate today,” he said during the School of Health, Sport and Bioscience ceremony.
Professor Radford said the proudest moment of his career came two years ago during the Covid-19 pandemic when he became the national lead for the NHS Vaccine Workforce programme, ensuring the success in the phase 1 delivery of 15 million vaccinations.
The programme recruited and trained over 250,000 people including 90,000 clinicians and 70,000 volunteers in a few months to launch one of the world's fastest programmes. He also led the deployment of student nurses in the pandemic response waves 1 and 2, with 71 universities in England.
“People across the nation, including students, volunteers, universities - everybody played a part in being able to give that vaccination on that first day. And here we are, whilst Covid-19 is still around, we are a more open society as a result of people being protected thanks to the work of everyone involved. That has given me a lot of pride,” he said.
As deputy chief nursing officer for England, Professor Radford ensures the NHS workforce is fit for the future. This includes recruitment and retention, skills development, maintaining the quality of management and leadership, tackling inequality and breaking down barriers.
Speaking about the current nursing strikes, Professor Radford said, “Nurses quite rightly want their voice heard around their pay, their terms, conditions and the work that they do. They've done an amazing job as lots of staff have over the last two and a half years. It's really shone a light on how complex and how difficult it is to be a nurse
“These things need to be addressed by government. But to take that to one side, nursing is still a phenomenal career. They're joining thousands of people who work in lots of different settings up and down the country that has genuinely huge public support and respect for what they do. Not many people can be a nurse.”
Professor Radford was honoured with a CBE in The Queen's New Year Honours 2022 list, and said he is grateful for the varied career he has had so far.
“I have had 25 years working directly in clinical practice and the last 10 years working in leadership and research. There aren't many careers where you can make those changes. I miss clinical practice enormously because it does give you a real buzz because you're working with individual patients or a family,” he said.
“But I also realised that I've got an opportunity, an expertise and skill that could shape a lot of different nurses' lives through education and training and research. The second part of my career is very much about how I use all of that knowledge and expertise to improve the lives of many, many more patients by supporting and leading nurses across the country. It is such a rewarding career,” Professor Radford added.