From education to employment

Former student James now a leading figure in the healthcare sector

Photo of James Mullins sitting in a car

Here at Borders College, we consider former students as one of our most valuable assets, and we love to hear about the success stories of our alumni.

We recently caught up with former student James Mullins to talk about his career and how his time at college gave him the foundation to go on and become a leading figure in England’s healthcare sector.

James currently works as the Group Director of Patient Safety across two Mental Health & Community NHS Trusts in Northamptonshire & Leicestershire. It’s a great achievement considering he left school with no direction and no plans for the future.

Choosing the education route, he attended Borders College in 1997/98 after leaving school and studied for an HNC in Social Sciences, where his passion for studying grew, going on to achieve a diploma in Adult Nursing at Napier University and later a degree in Mental Health Nursing.

45-year-old James, who is married with three boys, has since worked in several areas of healthcare, including elderly care, old age psychiatry, neurosurgery, substance misuse, prison healthcare, forensic mental health and female personality disorders.

He has also worked in several leadership roles in both providers and regulation. Between 2014 and 2018, James was Head of Inspections with the Care Quality Commission and was responsible for the regulation of nine NHS Trusts and 250+ independent health services in the West Midlands. 

The role also had national reach and included regular briefings on patient safety and leadership to the Health Secretary. He was headhunted to return to provider care and joined Birmingham Women & Children’s Hospitals NHS Trust as Director of Quality Assurance and later to Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, where he has worked since 2019. 

Talking about his time at College and how this benefited his career, James commented:

“I wouldn’t be where I am now without the start that I had at Borders College. I left school with no qualifications, no particular aspirations and no direction. I decided to apply to enrol on a course at Borders College and chose to study Social Sciences as it looked interesting.

“The course was challenging but very interesting and enjoyable, and I started to realise that I possibly may have some academic ability after all. I applied to study Adult Nursing at Napier University and now have a diploma in Adult Nursing, a degree in Mental Health Nursing and I am educated to masters level in Quality Improvement from the University of Dundee.

“The time studying at Borders College was invaluable as I learned how to write academically, critique and construct an argument. Essentially, the course taught me to think objectively. I use these skills daily and would not be where I am today without the grounding that Borders College gave me.”

James has had guest roles as a lecturer in forensic mental health at both the University of Bedfordshire and the University of Buckinghamshire. He has been published several times in nursing journals and publications, predominantly on the topic of prison healthcare.

Although his current role is strategic and predominantly at Board level, he always ensures that he visits services to listen and learn from staff, patients and families about what is important to them.

Asked what advice he would give to those thinking about a career in healthcare, James added:

“My advice would be to choose the path that feels most right to you. There are several great careers in healthcare, so do your research and look around at career options. If you’re not sure, speak to a careers advisor or someone you know who works in healthcare to get a steer on what may suit you.

“Outside of my wife and children, a career in healthcare has been the best thing that ever happened to me.”

Such was the influence Borders College had on James’s career, he has kindly put forward a proposition to mentor or coach a student who is considering a career in healthcare.

The College would like to thank James for sharing his inspiring story.

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