Meet the Manager Interview – King’s Norton – Craig Ward

Meet the Manager Interview – King’s Norton – Craig Ward

Craig smiling at the camera.

Our new Hospital Director at King’s Norton in Birmingham, Craig Ward, tells us how he came to be in mental health nursing, about his new team, and his vision for the service as he settles into his new role with Active Care Group. 

King’s Norton Hospital in Birmingham supports adults of all genders with severe and complex mental health conditions. In this state-of-the-art hospital we provide high quality intensive treatment in a clinically safe, caring and secure environment.

Could you tell us a bit about your career background and experience?
Absolutely. I began my healthcare career in mental health nursing in 2004, starting as a support worker across a range of wards in the Manchester area. In 2005, I undertook my nurse training and qualified in 2008. I spent 14 years at Cheadle Royal Hospital, working across a variety of services from children and adolescent mental health to acute psychiatric and personality disorder wards. During my time there, I became a deputy ward manager and was involved in creating new services, including two acute wards and a bespoke unit. 

In 2014, I became a ward manager and later the Director of Clinical Services for the Priory Group. For three years, I travelled across the country, working with a range of services, including acquired brain injury and secure settings. Eventually, I was successful in obtaining the hospital director post at King’s Norton Hospital.

What can you tell us about your new role?
As the hospital director at King’s Norton, I am responsible for the governance of the hospital, managing the senior management team which includes the medical director, matron, and site service manager. My role involves ensuring governance and compliance structures are in place, maintaining positive relationships with stakeholders, including commissioners and the CQC, and overseeing the day-to-day operations to ensure a safe and effective environment.

You’ve been at King’s Norton for eight weeks. What’s your favourite thing about the role so far?
My favourite aspect of the role is undoubtedly the patients on the wards. Seeing them come in during acute phases of illness and witnessing the immediate positive impact of our interventions is incredibly rewarding. I have also been impressed with the effectiveness and professionalism of the different teams and disciplines at the site. From day one, I have been made to feel very welcome and have received fantastic support from everyone at Active Care Group, which has made my transition into the role much smoother.

Where does your passion for your work come from?
Interestingly, I fell into nursing. Before starting my nursing career, I ran my own sandwich shop. After selling my business, I was at a crossroads in my career and a family member, who was an adult nurse, suggested I give nursing a try. I began working as a healthcare assistant for an agency and quickly realised it was a fulfilling career path. In nursing, you must genuinely care about the people you’re looking after and believe in what you’re doing. This belief helps you get through the challenging times in mental health care. Seeing patients recover and function normally again is incredibly rewarding, not just for them, but for their families as well.

Can you give an overview of the services provided at King’s Norton?
King’s Norton offers acute mental health services across three wards: one female and two male wards. The male wards have 12 and 10 beds respectively, while the female ward has 10 beds. We provide a range of treatments including medical care, nursing, occupational therapy, and psychology.

What is your vision for the service in the next few years?
King’s Norton is still a relatively new service, having been open for only 18 months. It often takes two to three years for a new service to become fully established. In the short term, we aim to establish our reputation within Active Care Group, with commissioners, the CQC, and other surrounding agencies. I have visions for environmental improvements, such as adding a gym to the site and ensuring the ward remains open and not overly restrictive while maintaining necessary security.

What’s your favourite thing to do with the patients?
As a hospital director, my role is somewhat removed from direct patient interaction. Now, my focus is on measuring outcome measures and ensuring patient feedback and involvement meet required levels. I no longer have the same one-on-one interactions I had earlier in my career but seeing the positive outcomes through data and feedback is still very rewarding.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I’m a family man and enjoy travelling. Recently, I acquired a camper van, so exploring the UK has become a new objective. I also play the guitar, which I’ve been learning for the past three or four years. It’s a challenging but rewarding.