Chris Chisholm

Director of Nursing UK and Ireland

As Fresenius Medical Care’s Director of Nursing UK and Ireland for the last 15 months, Chris looks after the clinical nursing and operational day to day running of all the clinics in the UK and Ireland. With around 550 nurses reporting directly to him, Chris makes sure patients are receiving the care that is required, ensuring there are correct staff to patient ratios and staffing skill mix. As well as sitting on the senior leadership team within Fresenius Medical Care, it is Chris’ responsibility to ensure the right policies, procedures and governance are in place to guarantee the safety of the patients.

One company - numerous opportunities

Chris joined Fresenius Medical Care in February 2015, as a clinical nurse specialist for the in-centre business, but shortly after decided he wanted a complete career change. “One of the great things about Fresenius Medical Care is the remit for opportunities to go for. I left the nursing side and moved into the business side to become a Regional Business Manager, then became Business Manager for the North of the UK for the in-centre business. Fresenius Medical Care gives you that little bit more flexibility and adaptability to be able to move between different areas which you wouldn’t necessarily get in other places.” 

At the end of 2019, Chris moved to his current role as Director of Nursing UK and Ireland. He explained that Fresenius Medical Care offers the opportunity for employees to take on new roles; not exclusively progress directly upwards but also across the business. Chris feels lucky in his role as he is able to see both sides of the business. “Previously I’d worked on the products side of Fresenius Medical Care and had very little visibility of the NephroCare side, so it’s been a real highlight being able to get to know the staff and how the clinics operate.” 

Developing a new role

With Director of Nursing UK and Ireland being a new position in the business, Chris explained “The development of the role has been the most exciting part of the job for me. I was in the unique position where I could adapt and build it around what I believed was right for the business. It was great to have the flexibility and wings to do that.”

When Chris first stepped into the role, one of his first actions was to restructure the way the business looked. In doing so, he was able to formulate his own senior management team within the nursing function of Fresenius Medical Care. “The old structure wasn’t right for the business and where it needed to be, so I was able to restructure the nursing side to get what I needed from a senior management team. It enabled me to put the right people in the right roles and watch them develop over the course of a very difficult year. That has been really rewarding.” 

Chris explained another aspect of his job that he particularly enjoys is being able to look at problems and put them right. “I like problem-solving. I’ve enjoyed looking at what the biggest issues are across the UK and Ireland and putting them right. I put big plans in place at the beginning of 2020, which have been successful.”

The best thing is the people I work with

When asked what he liked best about Fresenius Medical Care as a business, Chris could only talk about one thing, “The best thing is the people I work with. Everyone from the board to those who work in the clinics. It’s a really strong group of people – everyone recognises where they sit in the business and everyone rises to a challenge.” 

Chris has been in renal care since 1999, spending 17 years with the NHS before joining Fresenius Medical Care, and he knows he’ll stay in renal care as he progresses in his career. He noted that renal is a stable field in healthcare. “In the private industry, there will always renal patients. We’re fortunate enough to in the position where we’re never really going to be impacted by the likes of coronavirus, whereby elective surgeries or other treatments are cancelled, which would directly impact on what we do. We’re very stable as a business and are able to offer stable opportunities for our staff.” 

Chris’ role, however, doesn’t come without challenges, especially as a result of Covid-19. Chris explained that, while ‘people’ is one of his favourite aspects of his role, it can be extremely unpredictable at times. “With any healthcare environment, especially in the way it’s been hit by the pandemic recently, it’s a challenge to make sure patients are being looked after and dialysed with the correct number staff when we can have unexpected absences, for example, due to illness. Trying to maintain that fine balance over the past 12 months has been difficult.” 

Despite the complications that 2020 brought to Chris’ role, he’s found a lot of the pandemic planning to be enjoyable. “We formed a small cohesive group of people, the Covid-crisis team, and we were responsible for writing all the policies, procedures and protocols in relation to Covid-19. We also looked at how we were going to manage the pandemic as business. It makes you proud to see your planning put into action and be praised by the likes of The NHS Trust.” 

Chris has had a successful career in renal care, and he is continually seeking to progress himself. He shared his advice to others who might be looking to start in the industry. He expressed that it’s important to make sure you have a good understanding of the direction you want to go, and to make yourself aware of the skills, knowledge and experience you’ll need to progress. “It’s really important that you have an idea of where you want to go and what you want to achieve. It’s equally important to know how you’re going to get there. This can only come from self-directed learning and study.”

„The best thing about Fresenius Medical Care is the people I work with. Everyone from the Board to those who work in the clinics. It's a really strong group of people – everyone recognises where they sit in the business and everyone rises ...”
Chris Chisholm,Director of Nursing UK and Ireland

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