Steve Forsyth, Interim Chief Nurse

In this edition of Five Minutes With, we managed to squeeze in an interview with Interim Chief Nurse, Steve Forsyth.

In his interview Steve gets candid, reflecting on his impressive nursing career despite the many challenges he has faced along the way. We also get to hear all about his life as a father, a record-setting runner and his unshakable passion for supporting people from Birmingham to Gambia and back!

Read more about Steve and his role at Team BSMHFT below! 

Hi Steve, please could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your role at BSMHFT?

In no particular order I am a dad, a human and a runner.

I was brought up by mom who raised both me and my brother. Originally from Chandigarh, India, she came to the UK as a nurse to support our wonderful NHS. She is 70 years young this year and is still nursing after 50 years of service!

My mom was such an inspiration to me, seeing how much she loved her job, I knew I wanted to follow in her footsteps.

I have spent my entire working life caring for people from a variety of backgrounds and it is a huge privilege to be able to do so.

Steve student

Steve as a student

I started out as a B grade health care assistant gradually moving to where I am today, a secondment from North Wales as Interim Chief Nurse at BSMHFT.

My role requires me to have oversight of all quality and safety issues for the organisation, ensuring all our service users in our care have a voice. An essential part of my role is to continue to strengthen the voices of allied health professionals and nurses both locally and nationally.

Can you tell us how you felt when you first joined the NHS?

Accomplished. I started my Registered Mental Health training in 1997 when I also worked as a health care assistant, I then went back to university to undertake Registered Adult Nursing in 2003.

I have been to university a few times in Wolverhampton, Birmingham and Stafford doing various courses to develop my educational credentials.

I have certainly faced some stigmas over my career, I am a brown man, with a gold tooth and previously a top knot hairstyle. I didn’t fit the stereotypical ‘Chief Nurse image’ or CV, it is great to see this is changing and it was a huge part of the draw to BSMHFT due to our innovative and transformational Chief Executive.

If I was a student nurse now looking for a job, I would want to join BSMHFT due to the second city advantages, it’s a city that doesn’t sleep, has great transport infrastructure, shopping and culture. From an organisational perspective, the Trust offers flexibility of shifts, opportunities to work in a multitude of services that range from national piloted services like Culturally Adapted Family Intervention (CaFi) to medium secure services and prison health care.


What is your favourite thing about your role?

EVERYTHING! I am so proud to be a nurse, despite the challenges I faced with my dad refusing to speak to me and disowning me for choosing this profession and occupation as it wasn’t a “manly job” in his eyes.

Time is the most important currency in healthcare, the gift of time is so important and valuing being a part of people’s lives is a huge privilege.

You never stop being a nurse, service users are always on my mind and I’m always thinking about what I can do to provide the very best care that I can..

Who is your biggest inspiration in life and why? 

I have three children a daughter and two sons. My middle child, Malachi, has alpha laminin merosin deficient congenital muscular dystrophy.

He really made me change my entire perspective on life. He once said to me “I am never going to walk am I, Dad?”. From that day, it was like a switch went off in my mind. At only 16, he has changed my perspective on life and my appreciation of the time we have left on this planet, and how we spend it.

Steve running

Tell us one thing about yourself that people might not know

I was once 16 stone. I decided that things needed to change, I stopped smoking, I ate clean, I started to run. 

​I have completed a fair few marathons in my time, from Wolverhampton to Wales, Jamaica, Sweden, Madrid, Africa and last but not least Ayia Napa, where I hold a 10k record for the fastest time. My personal best for running is 15m 49s for a 5K, 32m 6s for a 10K and 72m 58s for a half marathon. 

I am passionate about the work I do in Gambia and I try to visit at least once a year to support them from a nursing capacity. I also work with the local police, and I am a long distance coach for the fastest man in Gambia. 

Describe yourself in three words ​​Quirky, determined and grateful