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Chief nurse Kathryn Halford honoured by University of East London

Pioneering futures since 1898

Mrs Halford advises students at graduation ceremony to seize every opportunity

During her 38 years with the National Health Service, chief nurse Kathryn Halford OBE has helped pioneer cutting-edge medical treatments, saved victims of the 7 July bombings in London, met royalty and helped thousands of patients. Now she has received an Honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of East London in recognition of her achievements.

Mrs Halford, who is deputy chief executive and chief nurse at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, advised students at the University’s graduation ceremony on 29 November at ExCeL London to seize every opportunity that arises. She said it was important they enjoy their jobs and look for ways to learn and improve.

She said, “Throughout your career you will learn lots of different things – some good and some not so good. My career had led me to meet lots of different people from lots of different backgrounds and I have learnt from them all. But in all careers, support from family and friends is vital.

“My advice is to look after each other; consider the impact you are having on others; and look forward to what is coming next.”

Mrs Halford spoke about her eventful career, both the light and the dark.
She said, “I’ve dealt with the aftermath of a terrorist attack; cared for some of the UK’s first AIDS and HIV patients; and spent a night as the only woman in a monastery.”

Mrs Halford has seen many harrowing situations. She recalled, “I was challenged to summon up all my skills on the 7th July 2005 when I was in charge of Great Ormond Street’s response to the London Bombings.

“During that terrible day, I set up an intensive care unit in the dining room and a temporary morgue elsewhere in the hospital. 

“I never ever thought I would have to deal with such a dreadful situation but I discovered that I could harness all that I had learnt over the years and respond appropriately.”

Mrs Halford has been deputy chief executive and chief nurse at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust since 2016. In 2018, she was awarded an OBE in recognition of her services to nursing. 

At the Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, Mrs Halford nurtures nurses and has worked to grow the Trust’s workforce from within. She helped the University of East London set up a registered nursing course, an offering which was not previously available in northeast London.

Thanks to Mrs Halford’s efforts, the Trust is a pioneer of the nursing associate scheme, which opened up career opportunities in nursing to a wider pool of people. She also created an award-winning senior intern scheme at the Trust, providing new nurses with mentoring and support from veteran employees. This has resulted in a reduction in the rate at which newly qualified people leave the Trust.