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New year honour for Mid Staffs nurse whistleblower

A nurse who helped blow the whistle on care failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust has been awarded an OBE in the new year’s honours list.

Helene Donnelly, now a nurse practitioner at Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Partnership NHS Trust, is to be made an OBE for her efforts towards helping NHS staff to raise concerns about standards of care.

In April, the trust made her its first ambassador for cultural change to better support staff to raise concerns about patient care and has called on other NHS organisations to follow suit.

Ms Donnelly previously worked in the emergency department at Stafford Hospital and was a key witness at the Francis inquiry into the poor care there.

She spoke to Nursing Times’ Sarah Calkin in February about her experiences at Stafford, prior to the launch of our Speak Out Safely campaign.

Nearly 20 nurses or former nurses were among the 1,195 people recommended to the Queen for an award this year.

Former nurse Paula Vasco-Knight, currently chief executive of South Devon Healthcare Foundation Trust and NHS England’s national lead for equality, and Kate Gerrish, professor of nursing research at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, have both been awarded a CBE.

Kate Gerrish

Kate Gerrish

Professor Gerrish is credited with promoting the uptake of research findings into clinical practice, leading to improvements in the care of patients most at risk of malnutrition and more support for stroke sufferers who have difficulty eating and swallowing.

She said: “This is a huge privilege, and a very humbling one, too. I’m thrilled to have received such an honour in recognition of the vital role nursing education and research have in professional practice.”

Three of the nurses and midwives receiving awards this year are members of staff from the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board in Wales.

Professor Sue Bale, the board’s director of research and development, has been awarded an OBE for services to nursing and nursing research.

She has a career in wound healing research spanning almost 30 years and is a founding member of the Wound Healing Research Unit in Cardiff. She also helped establish the European Wound Management Association and the European Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel.

Julie Brown, ward sister on the stroke unit at Nevill Hall Hospital in Abergavenny, was awarded an MBE. A nurse since 1984, she has been involved at Nevill Hall stroke unit since its earliest days.

Last month Julie she also won the registered nurse (adult) category at the Royal College of Nursing Wales Awards.

Meanwhile, Tracey Uzor, a midwife and immunisation co-ordinator with the health board, was awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to the NHS in Newport.

Elsewhere, Suzanne Lomax, a matron in acute adult care at the Royal Bolton Hospital, has been awarded the MBE.

Suzanne Lomax

Suzanne Lomax

Ms Lomax, 48, has worked at the hospital for 30 years and was heavily involved in the opening of the first ever acute stroke care unit at the hospital some years ago.

In 1992 she and a colleague, Sharron Dempsey, formed a local charity to support survivors of stroke and their families, which is currently called JIGSAW (Joint Initiative Group for Stroke Awareness and Wellbeing).


Nurse recipients in the 2014 New Year honours list:


Order of the British Empire

Commanders of the Order of the British Empire

  • Professor Catherine Anne GERRISH, Professor of Nursing, University of Sheffield and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. For services to Nursing. (Sheffield, South Yorkshire)
  • Dr Paula Marie VASCO-KNIGHT, Chief Executive, South Devon Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. For services to the NHS. (Okehampton, Devon)


Order of the British Empire

Officers of the Order of the British Empire

  • Professor Susan Ellen BALE, Assistant Nurse Director, Research and Development, Aneurin Bevan Local Health Board. For services to Nursing and Nursing Research. (Magor, Monmouthshire)
  • Helene, Mrs DONNELLY, Nurse Practitioner and Ambassador, Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Partnership Trust. For services to the NHS. (Gnosall, Staffordshire)
  • Candice Patricia, Mrs PELLETT, District Nurse, Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust. For services to Nursing. (Spalding, Lincolnshire)
  • Janet, Mrs SHEARD, Lately Executive Director of Nursing and Allied Health Professionals, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust. For services to Healthcare. (Nottingham, Nottinghamshire)


Order of the British Empire

Members of the Order of the British Empire

  • Nigel Michael BROAD, Charge Nurse, Anglesey Ward, Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, Swansea. For services to Nursing. (Neath, Neath Port Talbot)
  • Elizabeth Patrick, Mrs HAY, Community Nurse, Aviemore Health Centre. For services to Healthcare and charity. (Aviemore, Inverness-shire)
  • Suzanne Katherine, Mrs LOMAX, Nurse, Departmental Manager, Complex Care and Stroke, Bolton NHS Foundation Trust. For services to Healthcare. (Bolton, Greater Manchester)
  • Michael Paul Patrick O’DRISCOLL, Mental Health Nurse, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust. For services to Mental Health Nursing. (Nottingham, Nottinghamshire)
  • Ms Barbara Elizabeth PAGE, Dermatology Liaison Nurse Specialist, Queen Margaret Hospital, Dunfermline. For services to Dermatological Nursing.(Kinghorn, Fife)
  • Joan Susan Younger, Mrs TAYLOR, Midwife, NHS Fife. For services to Complementary Therapies. (Glenrothes, Fife)


Order of the British Empire

Medallist of the Order of the British Empire

  • Irene, Mrs BUDD, Staff Nurse, The Christie NHS Foundation Trust. For services to Nursing. (Audenshaw, Greater Manchester)
  • Professor Rosslyn CROCKET, Director of Nursing, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. For services to Nursing and Midwifery in Greater Glasgow and Clyde. (Newton Mearns, Glasgow)
  • Pamela Jean, Mrs HURCOMB, Bank Staff Nurse, Essex. For services to Healthcare. (Colchester, Essex)
  • Tracey Pauline, Mrs UZOR, Immunisation Coordinator, Aneurin Bevan Health Board. For services to the NHS in Newport, South Wales. (Cardiff)


Queen’s Volunteer Reserves Medal

  • Lieutenant Colonel Keith Steven WATKINS TD, Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps Army Reserve

Readers' comments (13)

  • It's about time conscientious nurses were recognised. An OBE for highlighting short comings within the NHS is a step in the right direction. Lets trust the National Health Service will have a second chance to be the Worlds best Health care provider for the future.

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  • George Kuchanny

    Well said Iama Cynic. The closed culture of seeing but saying or doing nothing about things has ben entirely damaging for years now. Fear of ostracism or damage to career must be a thing of the past. A well deserved OBE and let's see more of 'em in 2014!

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  • Surely an OBE is not the way to recognise somebody for speaking out about hospital failings.

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  • Pity the many 1000s of very conscientious hard working nurses who give excellent care don't get more awards. Perhaps they should run round a track, make a film, write a song, suck up to Government etc that seems to be the best way to get an award

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  • Congratulations to all those nurses and others in the health service mentioned on the New Year’s Honours List, including Helen Donnelly, a nurse who ‘helped blow the whistle on care failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust’.
    Here is an incomplete list of people who have blown the whistle, some of these people have been pushed out of work and lost much, but they all succeeded in doing the right thing:-

    *Edited by NT moderator

    Cause's Julie Fagan said: "People are being excluded on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations and often within days of them highlighting an area that could cause embarrassment. Put simply, it's the quickest and easiest way to get whistleblowers to shut up." At least 500 staff - 375 nurses, 152 doctors and 35 other clinical staff - are suspended on full pay from hospitals and GPs' surgeries. The suspensions are costing the NHS up to £100m a year - a fifth of the £500m it overspent last year.

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  • While we appreciate the spirit with which this comment was posted, we have unfortunately decided to remove the list of names ont he ground of confidentiality.

  • surely the very best award of all is knowing that you have done your very best for each and every patient and seeing the results of your care? it seems much more authentic than any number of slaps on the back and shiny medals and is after all the whole purpose of nursing.

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  • michael stone

    The message sent out by these honours is encouraging - but that doesn't necessarily mean people will be listening to it.

    But 'Good anyway' has to be the comment.

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  • tinkerbell

    Good day when a whistle blower is acknowledged positively rather than having their career ruined. A step in the right direction at last.

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  • I have to agree wholeheartedly with you Tinkerbell. I hope it sends a strong message that so called 'whistleblowers' will be listened to in the future, and nurses will no longer be victimised for doing so.

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  • Unfortunately Helen Donnelly won't make any difference to the managers who do not act against the person who has the whistle blown on them but on the whistleblower instead. The NMC do not help in this area especially when you blow the whistle on a nurse manager, i have 3 separate incidences of the nmc refusing to investigate because the hospital management hadn't reported the nurse manager. Unfortunately for Helen she is being counted alongside Julie Bailey whose complaints have been shown to be fabricated, but as her actions have aided the conservative party with its intent to privatise the nhs, she has been rewarded for her actions.

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  • michael stone

    Anonymous | 5-Jan-2014 1:14 am

    Didn't Julie receive a higher honour than Helene (from memory) ? And who has shown Julie's concerns to have been 'fabricated' ?

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  • Anonymous | 5-Jan-2014 1:14 am

    you seem to be confusing several separate issues here.

    is it public knowledge with documented evidence that Ms Bailey's complaints were fabricated?

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  • Congratulations to all those who received honours.

    Re: Anonymous | 3-Jan-2014 12:45 pm

    Much as I applaud whistleblowers, think they do deserve recognition for having the bravery to speak out despite it costing some of them all/any of their careers, health or working lives: Could I please clarify that all those listed are either a) in the public domain or b) have given their permission for their names to be listed, particularly given that, if any of them haven't you have chosen to breach their confidentiality whilst hiding behind anonymity.
    (& whilst I accept I am also hiding behind anonymity, I am not revealing other people's information &, being part way through a legal process designed to gag me for having dared to speak out myself, have no choice about remaining anonymous at present).

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