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VANESSA: CONSULTANT ANAESTHETIST

Vanessa Purday flew more than 9,000 miles to be interviewed for the role of Consultant anaesthetist with the East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust (EKHUFT).

The mum-of-three was living near the Australian city of Perth with husband Jonathan, also a consultant anaesthetist, and children Finn, now 10, Ella, now eight, and Caroline, now six, when she made the long-haul trip for the interview.

The 46-year-old said: “We moved to Australia when my husband was asked to set up a new Intensive Care Unit, and I took the opportunity to have a career break with our young family.

“When we decided to return to the UK we chose Kent because we both grew up here – I grew up in Dover, my husband in Herne Bay. I also have family here, so I was delighted when an opportunity arose to work in EKHUFT.”

Vanessa, who trained in the South West and qualified in 1994, was appointed in April 2015 and is now also the lead clinician for anaesthetics at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford. Jonathan, 57, has also been appointed as a Consultant in anaesthetics and intensive care medicine. He is now also Deputy Medical Director and Divisional Lead for Medicine at the Trust.

The family moved to Chilham and are enjoying what East Kent has to offer.

Vanessa, who spent six years as a consultant at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, said: “When we moved back we knew we’d be mostly based at the William Harvey Hospital, Ashford, but would also spend some time at Kent & Canterbury Hospital. We chose to live in Chilham, which is perfectly situated between the two towns.

“Chilham is a beautiful village, steeped in history, with good facilities. It also has a local train station, and Ashford or Canterbury can be reached in approximately ten minutes

“We both love Kent and, having a young family, it is wonderful to bring them to the place where we both grew up.

“We are enjoying visiting old haunts, as well as discovering new ones. Coastal beaches are readily accessible within half an hour, and the countryside is glorious.

“We have a dog, a cockerpoo called Rosie, and can take her for walks from our house onto the North Downs Way – a famous  trail following the historic Pilgrims Way along the Downs.

“We have beautiful countryside but also good towns like Ashford and the city of Canterbury. The link to London, with the fast train, is fantastic and there is great access to Europe – we plan to make use of this at the weekends as the children get older.

“There is a good choice of schools, important with a young family. There are great primary schools and some amazing secondary schools, both state and private.”

The move has also meant being a part of interesting changes within the Trust.

The former Dover Girls Grammar School pupil said: “When I got the job the Trust was in special measures, but having worked in the NHS for many years I know most Trusts are struggling to a greater or lesser degree.

“I saw an opportunity, as part of a team, to change things. There is scope to get involved in change management, and I have found the executive team very approachable and ready to listen.

“There are lots of challenges – financial constraints and recruitment of staff remain an issue across the Trust. I have been able to use what I have learnt working in other Trusts, and sometimes bring a different perspective when tackling problems.  I’m delighted that we have just recruited four anaesthetic Consultants to join our department at the William Harvey Hospital.

“There are real opportunities here to be involved with the future of this Trust, to contribute as senior clinicians to the STP (Sustainability and Transformation Plan), and work across the organisation to make a real difference.

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