Meet the Network Team
The core network team consists of a Clinical Director, a Manager, Lead Nurses and a Support Manager. The core team is hosted by University Hospitals Bristol and Weston, and based in Bristol. The team are very willing to travel to any of the Network's Centres/Hospitals as needed.
Dr Stephanie Curtis — Clinical Director
Dr Stephanie Curtis is a Consultant Cardiologist in Adult Congenital Heart Disease and Obstetric Cardiology. She has a special interest inherited diseases of the aorta, such as Marfan’s syndrome.
Dr Curtis trained in Edinburgh, London, and Bristol and is British Society of Echocardiography accredited in trans-thoracic and transoesophageal echocardiography. She regularly presents and chairs at regional and national meetings and has published in her areas of expertise. Her research interests include various aspects of inherited aortopathies and pregnancy in congenital heart disease.
Dr Curtis runs ACHD and Inherited Cardiac Conditions clinics at the Bristol Heart Institute and also outreach ACHD clinics in Gloucester Royal Hospital and Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton. She is the Lead Cardiologist for the South West Maternal Medicine Network, which is a service run jointly by cardiologists, obstetricians, anaesthetists and midwives in providing care for pregnant women with heart disease across the South West of England. Dr Curtis set up and runs the Regional ACHD Training Programme for the South West and South Wales and is Co-Founder and Director of the Bristol and Cardiff ACHD Echo Course (est. 2016).
When not working, Dr Curtis is mum to two teenage boys and a cat. She is a lover of books, triathlon and open water swimming.
Michelle Jarvis — Manager
Michelle started her time in the NHS whilst still at school, volunteering at the local community hospital serving drinks to patients. This led to a passion for patient care which has stayed with her and has led to her 20+ year and counting NHS career.
Following various administrative roles in hospitals throughout and after university, Michelle started her management career with a service improvement role in the Bristol Royal Infirmary Emergency Department where she caught the bug for emergency and front door care and stayed working in this area for the next 12 years in various different management and leadership roles - all driven by the aim to improve services for patients and deliver safe, high-quality care.
More recently, Michelle has worked in commissioning & contracting at University Hospitals Bristol and Weston (NHS) working with partners across the BNSSG system and supporting with organisational planning.
Michelle is passionate about team working, collaboration and greatly enjoys working with colleagues across the multi-disciplinary teams (MDTs) and different organisations. Michelle feels lucky to have experienced first hand how partnership working, including ensuring patients have a voice in service design and pathways, can achieve improved quality standards for patients.
Outside of work, Michelle loves spending time with her family and is a busy mum to three children. The family love to spend time with their friends and enjoy being outdoors, camping and travelling as well as family game nights at home.
Sheena Vernon — Lead Nurse (job-share)
Sheena qualified as a nurse in Liverpool. After gaining ward experience, she completed the Intensive Care Course at The Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital. She took up a post in the cardiac surgery intensive care in Bristol. She worked a Sister on the cardiac intensive care for a number of years.
In 2002 she commenced as a clinical nurse specialist in adult congenital heart disease at The Bristol Heart Institute. She set up the nurse specialist service providing clinical advice support to patients, families and colleagues. The role involved setting up pre-assessment service, setting up young people’s clinics for patients transferring to the adult service, including annual young people’s clinics in the peripheral clinics. Clinical work included supporting patients undergoing cardiac surgery, cardiology procedures, patients with learning disabilities, complex pregnancy, end of life care and transition. She set up nurse-led follow-up clinics in 2012.
Sheena is passionate about educating staff on the care of patients with congenital heart disease and began the regional annual adult congenital heart disease training days, which have run for fifteen years. Average attendance is 80 delegates. She presents regularly nationally on Adult Congenital Heart Disease and has published articles. She completed her Masters in Advanced Nursing Practice in 2010.
In 2011 she represented the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) sitting on the ACHD Clinical Advisory Group for writing the CHD standards. Followed, in 2013 by sitting on the New Congenital Heart Disease Review group also representing the RCN. Prior to this work she was an External Reference Group Member for 'A commissioning guide for services for young people and Grown-Ups with Congenital Heart Disease (GUCH)' Department of Health in 2006.
Sheena is a member of the British Adult Congenital Cardiac Association and was president of the group for five years commencing in 2008.
Outside of work, Sheena enjoys a busy social life with her children and husband, her friends and her church in Bristol. She enjoys swimming, walking and bird watching, the cinema, eating out, reading and BBC period dramas!
Jess Hughes - Lead Nurse (job-share)
Jess qualified as a nurse in 2005, she worked initially in the Emergency department at the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children (BRHC) gaining an excellent base for her nursing career. In 2006 she moved to the Paediatric intensive Care Unit where she completed the intensive care course and gained advanced nursing qualifications in ventilation weaning and extubation. She joined the unit Retrieval team and travelled throughout the South West as part of this team, stabilising critically ill children in their local centre and transferring them back to Bristol PICU to continue their intensive care.
In 2010 Jess gained a senior nursing post on the children’s cardiac ward and moved to the role of Paediatric Cardiac Nurse Specialist in 2011. The CNS team established the transition service at BRHC which was an exciting achievement. This has been a work in progress over the past decade and there is now a dedicated transition clinic for young people with much work still to be undertaken in this area. The fetal service was also established in this time and the presence of a CNS in these clinics is now making a positive impact on patients with a diagnosis of CHD in their unborn child.
In 2015 Jess was appointed as Clinical Lead for Transition in University Hospitals Bristol and Weston. She worked with 12 specialities across adult and paediatric services in order to achieve the requirements from a CCG CQUIN and an NHS England CQUIN. This work improved the journey of patients from the paediatric to adult services, ensuring that each patient had a documented pathway and each speciality team was ensuring their patients were receiving good quality transition. Jess is also passionate about providing good quality palliative care to patients when it is needed and has been key in progressing the comfort care programme within the fetal service when parents choose to take this pathway.
Jess has furthered her academic work achieving a fourth Masters module in paediatric examination and clinical reasoning in 2017 which has enabled the team to undertake an advanced nursing role in pre-admission clinics, enhancing the patients experience in this area.
Throughout her time in the Peadiatric Cardiac Nurse Specialist team Jess has also been busy having her 3 children, undertaking a house renovation and more recently acquiring a very sweet labrador named Nahla.
Outside of work, Jess' other passions are gardening, interior design, paddleboarding, camping and generally enjoying the great outdoors with her family and friends.
Rachel — Support Manager
Rachel was appointed to the post of Congenital Heart Disease Network Support Manager in November 2019, having worked for the NHS in administration and managerial roles for several years. She is passionate about the NHS values, collaborative working and continuously striving to improve patient and staff experience.
In her spare time, Rachel loves spending time with family and friends, walking, cycling and exploring the countryside.