Marking National Careers Week with mental health nurse's 50-year NHS vocation

Date added: 08 March 2024

To celebrate 50 years’ service with the NHS, and to mark #NationalCareersWeek, we caught up with KMPT staff nurse Dev Chetty to find out about his long and illustrious career in healthcare.

From humble beginnings as a student nurse living in digs in a foreign country, to being head-hunted and working as a consultant on several strategic projects across the UK, Dev has worked as a staff nurse for KMPT since 2015 – a role he describes as his most rewarding.

As a young boy growing up in Mauritius, Dev dreamed of travelling and finding employment abroad.  After working as a school teacher in his mother country, Mr Chetty Senior helped his then 20-year-old son apply for his first healthcare position at an NHS hospital in Lancashire.

From 1974-1980 Dev worked as a healthcare assistant student, and then staff nurse, at Blackburn Brockhall hospital, caring for people with learning disabilities.  His cheery disposition and strong work ethic allowed him to settle quickly in the UK, both personally and professionally.

Fiercely ambitious, in 1980 Dev upped-sticks and relocated to then Darenth Park hospital, Dartford, where he quickly progressed from staff nurse, to Deputy Ward Manager to Charge Nurse, looking after young adults with challenging behaviour.

In the mid-80s Dev took a promotion and moved to a Manchester hospital to support service users leaving in-patient care to live in the community.  His career advanced and evolved over the next few years and saw him make the move from clinical Nurse Manager to Senior Nurse Manager.  Still in contact with patients, Dev was now also responsible for overseeing the new clinical grading system.

Management clearly suited Dev as, after his tenure, he took up a post of Locality Manager at a hospital in Essex.  While there, he particularly enjoyed working with schools, district nurses, health visitors and GPs to ensure the provision of first-class community care across the county; he also headed-up a team realising 999 emergency call-out categorisation to reduce people unnecessarily attending A&E unnecessarily.  His outstanding work was recognised with a national modernization award and rewarded with an overseas trip.  Instead of taking the prize himself, kind-hearted Dev nominated two supportive colleagues to travel to New England, America, complete with spending money.

Dev worked as of Primary Care Development Manager, where he joined the Primary Care Board as a nurse representative, responsible for GP, pharmacy, dentistry and optometry contracts before being promoted to Head of Primary Care Services.

After working for 34 years, he decided to retire from the NHS; only for his CEO to announce his surprise return as a management consultant the following week!  Flabbergasted but very flattered, Dev spent the next five years managing several high-profile projects including the trust’s strategic and operational plan.  As the new lead for GP contracts, Dev used his wealth of experience and easy rapport with secondary healthcare peers to recoup monies owed to Havering Primary Care Trust (PCT) and commission acute care.

Now 2013, Dev retired for a second time; taking up the post of Specialist Service Manager at a hospital in Ipswich, just a matter of weeks later!  As much as he enjoyed the role, the commute kept him away from his beloved family too much, so he decided to look for a clinical job closer to home.

Following a stint in a nursing home in Dartford, helping staff prepare for Care Quality Commission (CQC) audits inspection, Dev secured a position as a staff nurse at KMPT’s Tarentfort Centre in 2015.

Caring for people with learning disabilities with offending behaviour and complex mental health needs in a low secure forensic setting is where Dev feels he can offer his best service to the NHS; he is proud to have come full-circle in his healthcare career.  He told us that his extensive knowledge of working alongside multi-disciplinary teams and his empathy and capability for looking after people in an in-patient setting makes this his most meaningful job… to date!

Now semi-retired, Dev splits his time between Tarentfort, the Brookfield Centre and the Trevor Gibbens Unit, where he cares for some of our most unwell and vulnerable service users.

With no immediate plans to fully retire just yet, when Dev isn’t at work he enjoys spending time with his three grown-up children, and five-year-old grandson, who affectionately calls him ‘Tata’ which means grandad in Tamil.

Dev feels privileged to enjoy his vocation with the NHS; he implores anyone with a passion like his, to make a career from helping people with mental health needs on their recovery journey to pursue it whole-heartedly, as, although challenging, is the most worthwhile and fulfilling life experience.

We are #KMPTProud of Dev and wish him many more years of health and happiness with the trust.

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