published on
March 11, 2022

A chat with Fiona Millington, chief nurse at Florence

WRITTEN BY
Ella Moody
·
posted on
Behind the scenes

It’s time for another instalment of Behind the Scenes at Florence. This week we’re talking to our Chief Nurse, Fiona. Fiona has previously worked in the NHS and as a lecturer at Keele University before joining us at Florence. Let’s find out all about her journey!

Who are you and what do you do at Florence? 

I’m Fiona, Chief Nurse at Florence. I do all sorts of things, I manage professional regulatory activity, I support the governance team with things like incident management, policy and procedures, processes, audits and compliance. 

Also I do a lot of work with the Florence Academy, I write some of the content and we manage the mandatory and statutory training required for the internal organisation.  

What made you want to join Florence? 

I worked in the NHS for 30 years, initially in Accident and Emergency for about ten years. 

Then I moved out into education and was a Nursing lecturer at Keele University for about eight years. I then went back into the NHS and took up a post as a matron at the Royal Stoke Hospital. I worked there until I left in 2015 as the Associate Chief Nurse for medicine. 

In 2015 I'd done 30 years in the NHS so I decided it was probably high time to take a look around and see what else was going on - so I took a post as director of nursing in a care home group, I stayed with them for almost four years and learned a great deal about social care. 

But I saw an awful lot of discrepancies around the way that nurses and carers were managed and supported between the NHS and social care. 

I became very involved in professional fairness and making sure that systems were in place to standardise things like fitness to practise referrals where nurses get referred if they’ve made an error or an incident has occured. 

In the NHS nurses don’t tend to get referred to the NMC quite as frequently as the social care sector, where it tends to be a knee jerk reaction. This really challenges the individual and can have a big impact on their mental health.

Then, in 2019 I decided to step away from nursing for a bit - and completely out of the blue Florence contacted me through LinkedIn, they were looking for a chief nurse.

I came down to London to have a look at what working with a startup tech company might look like, and have been here ever since! 

I’ve had to unlearn everything and re-learn a whole set of new skills but it's been well worth it.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Make a list! Without a doubt. 

When I was a student nurse, a very long time ago now, training was very different, you had four weeks in college to start with and then you were set loose onto the wards. 

I hadn’t even had a sick hamster at the time that I started my training so didn’t have much of a clue!

I had a very good charge nurse on one of the wards I was working on and he taught me how to write clinical lists to ensure that I stayed on track with the work that I was doing. 

I’ve been an avid list maker ever since! I usually start the day with a list and it gives me a great sense of achievement to finish it.

What’s your favourite thing about working at Florence? 

The diversity. I have so many discussions in a day. 

This morning I’ve spoken about supervision policy for Northern Ireland. 

I've had a long conversation with our clinical lead nurse for Scotland around supervisions, but then that branched out into how we can support a particular nurse with an NMC referral. 

I’m speaking at an international conference soon so I need to prepare for that next. 

I know what I’m doing most days but things can change quickly, I might be planning to do one thing and then something else crops up and it can change entirely, and I love that. 

What’s the biggest challenge Florence is facing at the moment?

 For me, it’s the pace of growth and keeping up with compliance and regulatory requirements. 

The rules are different all throughout the UK so it’s important to make sure we keep up to date with it. 

What’s a fun fact about you that might surprise us? 

Last year I completed a diploma in Foot Health Practice. I’ve always been really interested in frailty and falls, and very often, falling is caused by poor foot health. 

If your feet are in good condition; not painful, no calluses, no corns and with well-cut toenails then you walk better and you’re less likely to fall over. I can remove corns, shave off hard skin, deal with verrucas and look at Athletes' foot and cut long toenails with precision! 

Anything grotty about a foot I absolutely love! 

What piece of advice would you give to someone thinking about joining Florence? 

I would say ‘keep asking, no question is stupid, no question is not worth answering’. 

If you don’t know, then you don’t know! It’s much better to ask the question and get a proper answer rather than guess. 

Where do you see Florence in 5 years? 

At the pace that we’re going I think we’ll have taken over the world! 

I’d love to see that we’re internationally recognised. But for me it’s not just about filling shifts and being internationally recognised, I want to be known as a centre of excellence for agency work. 

That’s what I’d really like to see us being, out there and capturing the market but also doing that with a very robust reputation. 



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