Teesside healthcare servant retires after four decades

A Teesside health trust had bid farewell to a colleague who spent 43 years dedicating her career to the organisation.

Sue Piggott has retired from North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust at a celebration event held at the University Hospital of North Tees, which was attended by over 150 guests.

Mrs Piggot joined the Trust as a student, working through a career spanning roles as a staff nurse, sister, clinical matron, operational manager and finally as a general manager within the in hospital care team.

Julie Gillon, Chief Executive for the Trust welcomed guests as she spoke about Sue’s ‘life cycle’ with the organisation during a ‘this is your life…’ style presentation. Speaking about her zest for her career she explained ‘Sue has always shown us the values of a compassionate leadership style, and this has will become her legacy in the future leaders of this organsation’.

She continued with a journey through some of the outstanding successes that Sue and colleagues had been instrumental in developing – from the introduction of the four-hour standard in A&E and the 98% success rate achieved for two solid years, to the outstanding work of stroke services at the Trust.

Reflecting upon Sue’s style of management, Julie noted her passion for remaining operational explaining ‘even during a period of flexi-retirement in 2016, Sue declared that any projects she might be involved in going forward, she would want to remain operational’.

‘It is this attitude that epitomises Sue’s ability to be able to work with her own core values, whilst identifying the leaders of tomorrow for this organisation’.

Dr Deepak Dwarakanath, Deputy Chief Executive and Medical Director for the Trust talked about his own experiences of working with Sue, when he joined the organisation in 1994.

‘When I joined this trust some twenty-five years ago, I was privileged to work with Sue on the now renowned ward 24. It is most pleasing to note that many of the nurses that worked on the ward at that time went on to be outstanding leaders within the NHS. 

It really is testament to Sue’s guiding light and standard setting that we see so much success borne of her investment in our Trust’.

Acknowledging guests in attendance at the celebration, including the first Consultant Gastroenterologist in Teesside Alex Dellipiani who interviewed Sue for her very first post with the Trust, and her husband and sons, Dr Dwarakanath went on to explain ‘Sue has really been a part of evolutionary change for nursing opportunities, sparking so much more in terms of career path options. Beyond that she has been our confidante, our shoulder to cry (and laugh) on and she has done all of this with integrity and confidentiality’.

Summing up his thoughts, he commended Mrs Piggot for her commitment to her career and colleagues at the Trust ‘North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust is currently working with the excellence as our standard ethos. I can honestly say that Sue has embodied this throughout her career, thank you Sue, for everything’.

Thanking colleagues and friends for attending the celebration event, Sue talked to guests about what working for the Trust had meant to her, the successes she had experienced and the advice she would give the staff of tomorrow.

‘At 16 I left home to join the cadets in Northallerton to embark upon my career, and it was quite a shock to the system. I stayed there for three years before joining the Trust. It was during this time that I started ‘courting’ my husband, and to him I must pay absolute testament. He has been an absolute rock, and so very understanding throughout my career’.

Acknowledging her children, their partners and her grandchildren Sue spoke of the support of her family being critical to her success.

Those successes included – ward 24 and the embryonic beginnings of an EAU, transformation of medicine onto one site and the development of the nursing community.

Summarising her advisories for a long and happy career within the NHS she said ‘patients do not want to see an unhappy nurse, and I instill this in all that come to work with us. It has perhaps become my standard advice – a few people have noted it in the many lovely cards and notes I have received.

A quote I have reflected on from Mark Twain really sums it all up for me ‘if you are doing something you love, then work isn’t really work’.

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