Meet Leigh Donnelly


Leigh Donnelly is the Training and Development Lead for Endoscopy at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

What attracted you to a career in gastroenterology/hepatology?

It was really gastroenterology for me and endoscopy. My first job was to work in theatres and that was quite a long time ago, more than 30 years ago now. Back then, endoscopy was part of theatre. It was part of your duties and you were rotated into the endoscopy department, and then I just really got the bug. I really enjoyed the fact that it was technical and there was a lot of anatomy. I enjoyed the fact that you did everything possible for that patient during that admission, and that you could make that patient feel comfortable and do everything you can to make them have a safe and discomfort-free procedure. Then I decided to take a job in endoscopy, and I worked in different hospitals, but it was purely in endoscopy and that was it. I knew that was what I wanted to do and where I wanted to build my career.

What advancement in gastroenterology/hepatology are you most excited about and why?

There are a couple of things. Firstly, I’m really interested in the development of the advanced nurse practice rules in endoscopy. I’m really excited about how much further nurses can push the boundaries in advanced practice and take that role further, taking on more therapeutic and technical procedures in endoscopy and having a more advanced role with that. The second thing is the sustainability aspect now. With the endoscopy department being the fourth highest producer of greenhouse gases in the NHS, we really need to be looking at ways to reduce our contribution to that. I’m really excited about how we’re looking at new innovative ways of getting around the non-reusable items, the decontamination, the nitrous oxide gases, the use of water, and that sort of thing, so there are lots of things happening in that area.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

At the minute, I’m less patient focused and more looking at developing other members of staff. I really enjoy the fact that you’re seeing staff coming in, developing their work and their educational knowledge and skills as well. I really want to see the younger people coming through, moving on, and having a long career in gastroenterology.

What is the one thing you would change?

I think it’s a wider NHS problem rather than just in gastroenterology and endoscopy, but unless the NHS gets proper investment and the people who work in the NHS are allowed to have more input into running the NHS, I don’t think it’ll succeed much in the future. I think we need more input from specialists rather than bureaucracy.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given in your career?

Take every opportunity. Take everything you can from education, to offers of experience, to going to see different procedures. Just take everything you can get and make the most of it. This was from a nurse from a long time ago when I was in endoscopy and she was nearing the end of her career and she said just take everything you can, take it and move forward. It was the best advice I had.

What does being a BSG member mean to you?

For me, it’s really important. I became a BSG member in 1995 when I started working in endoscopy full time. I was really proud of that, because to me it felt like an achievement that I was part of a national body that was part of a network, which influenced practice, development, standards, and innovations on a more national level. That was really important to me and as a BSG Nursing committee member, that’s so important to be able to be part of a team and be part of a network that can go on to actually make those changes at a national level and influence those changes. I am and always have been proud to be a member of the BSG.

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