Jasmine’s story

Name: Jasmine Plowright

Role: Communications

Started with the NHS: April 2020

What was your first job in the NHS: Depends whether you count being paid in choc ices by my Mum’s colleagues during school holidays… If so, a variety of roles from 1990. Started with ABC April 2020.

What led you to choose a career with the NHS: Like many, my introduction starts with my Mum. She became a nurse at 18 and after having me had a post-nursing career that included many roles including setting up a department comprising 40 bilingual health advocates to guide, support, interpret and assist Refugees and Asylum Seekers to access health care within City & Hackney Community Care Trust.

I spent a lot of my childhood in primary care settings. Doing my homework with the health visitors while I waited for her to finish work, being paid in choc ices to weigh babies (and be wee’d on) in the health clinic and filing patient files in alphabetical order during the school holidays (when they were pink wallets / packets with printed pages stuffed in and forced into a bulging filing cabinet.)

I managed to then stay away for the next 20+ years until Covid hit. As Katherine was coming to terms with what ‘lockdown looked like’ she asked me to help her put infrastructure in place so that we could move online as I was doing this with my other clients. This included: Adopting Microsoft Teams, remote working infrastructure and virtual training. This quickly grew to include Covid-19 Vaccination programme – operational and communications support. I joined a call on Monday and by Wednesday I was the lead programme consultant and heading up our communications approach. Since then, we’ve built a new central team of two full time members of staff, supported by myself and a freelance writer.

Do you have a funny story to share: I was primary school age, another standard day in the school holidays. It was either go to work with Mum or go to the Play Centre, and the Play Centre didn’t pay me in choc ices.

I was doing my usual rounds in John Scott Health Centre, North London, spending time booking patients into chiropody and dental appointments, weighing babies in the health clinic, handing out the bottles of the banana vitamin drops and nappies and then on to family planning to help put their ‘goody bags’ together. These brown paper bags had to be filled with colourful squares and small round tablets that needed to be slotted into packets and then handed out. On this particular day, the team had ‘gone out to bring people in’ and lots of ladies turned up.

The colourful squares were a mystery but I had somehow convinced myself that the pills helped women to have babies, so I said “congratulations” every time I handed them out. Years later, my Mum told me that these were outreach sessions for sex workers and I had been handing out condoms and contraceptive pills!

What has been your greatest achievement: It has to be contributing to the success of the Covid19 Vaccination roll out. It was a difficult time for everyone and the challenge was a tough one. With no playbook to reference, we were one of the first to go live in the South East, the first in the country to take the vaccine to the community on a bus and the first in the South East to run a 24 hour booster clinic – we saw people coming out of retirement to work with us, people furloughed volunteering to ensure that they supported their local community efforts and community leaders opening their doors to welcome us in. To know that we had a role in protecting our community especially as we work in the same community within which myself and my family live, really is very special and I’ll be forever proud to be a small part of that.

What are your hopes for the future: So many people who were furloughed and chose to volunteer and work in the NHS for the first time (on what they thought was a temporary basis) came in with the most incredible and valuable skills. I hope that this continues and that people value the NHS as a career choice as we need a vibrant and diverse group of people to ensure that we protect this national success story for another 75 years to come.