Visionary nurse takes up top post

A mother-of-three who has spent her entire 24-year nursing career in Colchester and Tendring has taken up a key appointment with North East Essex Primary Care Trust (PCT).

Visionary nurse takes up top post

A mother-of-three who has spent her entire 24-year nursing career in Colchester and Tendring has taken up a key appointment with North East Essex Primary Care Trust (PCT).

Wendy Tankard switched from hospital to community nursing in 1991 because she was keen on the idea of more health services being provided away from big hospitals and closer to home – which is now a central plank of national NHS policy.

She has been appointed to the new post of director of nursing/assistant director of commissioning by the PCT, an NHS organisation formed on 1 October last year when the former Colchester and Tendring PCTs joined together.

“It’s very unusual to combine being a director of nursing with a commissioning role but I’m confident this is the way ahead and I feel genuinely excited to be taking up this position,” she said.

“’Commissioning’ is NHS jargon for how PCTs use money to buy a wide range of health services for the population they serve  and my role at North East Essex is to ensure commissioning has a strong patient focus that improves quality, patient safety and performance.

“Part of my commissioning role will involve working on priorities for patients with long-term conditions and coming up with ways that will address their needs most effectively.

“I’ll also be working with colleagues in service redesign, particularly around providing more services closer home, and reforming emergency care.”

North East Essex PCT employs 732 nursing staff, including nurses at the community hospitals in Clacton and Harwich, district nurses, health visitors, specialist nurses and school nurses. Ms Tankard, 41, will also provide strategic leadership for the PCT’s 150 allied health professionals which include physiotherapists, occupational therapists and podiatrists.

Born in Chelmsford, she has lived in Bradfield, near Manningtree, since before she started school apart from five years at boarding school in Surrey when she was aged 11-16. While there, she considered becoming a secretary but opted for nursing after doing some work in a residential home for elderly people when she was 14.

She qualified as a nurse in 1984 after training at the North East Essex School of Nursing at Severalls Hospital, Colchester. She then worked as a care of the elderly nurse at Severalls Hospital, the former Heath Hospital at Tendring Heath and then within acute surgical/medical at Colchester General Hospital.

After switching to community nursing, she worked for eight years in Tendring and then moved to Colchester for promotion. In 2000 she gained a BSc honours degree in specialist practice from Anglia Polytechnic University (now Anglia Ruskin University).

Ms Tankard has also worked as head of district nursing in Colchester and as acting director of nursing for Colchester PCT. She was the lead nurse in the project to create Colchester NHS Walk-in Centre which opened in 2004.

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