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Specialist nurses recognised for top rheumatology care

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Two specialist nurses have been praised by rheumatology patients for their care at a charity’s inaugural awards ceremony.

The National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society held its inaugural Patients’ Choice Awards on 2 November.

“The comments we received about the nominees say it all really”

Debbie Cook

The awards were voted for online by patients who nominated health care professionals who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to help people with ankylosing spondylitis.

The awards also marked the 40th anniversary of NASS by recognising good practice around the UK.

Michelle Rutherford, who works at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle was named “best rheumatology nurse”.

Meanwhile, Kelly Hayes-Head, from Airedale Hospital in Keighley, was highly commended in the same category.

The patient who nominated Ms Rutherford described her as “a very caring and attentive specialist nurse” who was “always available, always helpful”.

“Michelle has been my nurse for five years and always goes the extra mile to ensure all her patients are well looked after,” they said.

“She always has a smile on her face and has always returned my phone calls. She is indispensable…. it is no exaggeration to say she has helped change my life,” they added.

In addition, Ms Hayes-Head was described as “an exceptional individual”.

National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society

Two nurses recognised for top rheumatology care

Kelly Hayes-Head

“She is so caring and always gives great advice. It is obvious that Kelly enjoys her job and always goes over and above to help. Kelly is a great person and her efforts need recognising,” said the patient who nominated her for the award.

The charity noted that its awards came at a time when the NHS finds itself was in “crisis – under-resourced and riddled with ongoing disputes”.

“The dedication and commitment from so many NHS staff is all too often overshadowed by these headlines, something which NASS hopes to rectify in its own small way with the awards,” it said.

“The passion for the work they do was visible from the winners in an emotional ceremony where they had been chosen by the real experts – the patients,” it added.

Debbie Cook, chief executive of the charity, said: “It was wonderful to be able to recognise the amazing work that has been done by these individuals and teams to help ensure a better life for those with AS.

“The comments we received about the nominees say it all really – ‘indispensable’, ‘outstanding’, and ‘exceptional’ to name a few’,” she said.

Around 200,000 people in the UK have AS, a form of inflammatory arthritis that mainly affects the spine and often starts when patients are in their teens or early twenties.

It is a painful, progressive, long term condition which has no cure. Anti-inflammatory medication combined with regular physiotherapy and exercise are the cornerstones of treatment.

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