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Nursing Times Leaders

Download the supplement here


Welcome to the first ever Nursing Times Leaders supplement. This special publication celebrates nurses and midwives who have been pioneers, entrepreneurs and inspirational role models to their profession.

We were looking for a set of nurses who have changed practice for the better, shown visionary thinking, had a major positive impact and role modeled exceptional behaviours for others to imitate. We also wanted to see nurses whose influence spread beyond nursing to affect the wider healthcare arena, and to feel that the people in this list would leave a legacy – that nursing would have changed for the better as a result of their contribution.


Nursing Times Leaders:

Ordered alphabetically


Gail Adams

Head of nursing, Unison

Gail Adams

Gail Adams


If nurses ever need a champion they can confidently turn to Gail Adams, head of nursing at Unison for support, knowing she will fight tooth and nail for them. Gail’s nursing career was almost over before it began; she was suspended from her first student placement due to psoriasis, but had the decision overturned thanks to support from her union NUPE (now Unison).

The experience led her to become a union rep and branch officer before she became Unison’s head of nursing. She is a passionate advocate for the profession and has played a leading role in advancing its influence and improving the working lives of individual nurses.

The judges said: ‘Gail does a stunning job – she fights tooth and nail for nursing. She really knows her stuff and has all the facts and figures in her head. The Leaders list wouldn’t be right without her.’


Caroline Alexander

Chief nurse, NHS England, London Region

Caroline Alexander

Caroline Alexander


Caroline graduated as a nurse in 1987 from Edinburgh University and specialised in nursing older people in Edinburgh and then London as a ward sister at Guy’s Hospital.

After three years at the Foundation of Nursing Studies, Caroline returned to the NHS and worked in Tower Hamlets in a range of roles within older people’s services. In 2005 she became director of nursing and therapies for Tower Hamlets PCT, and after the clustering of PCTs, director of nursing and quality for NHS North East London in 2012.  She was chief nurse for NHS London for six months before her experience in leading services going through periods of radical change helped her gain her current role.

The judges said: ‘Caroline is a quiet influencer, able to navigate difficult political environments by developing relationships and gaining trust, and is hugely respected by the trade unions. She is phenomenal.’


Professor June Andrews

Director of Dementia Services Development Centre, University of Sterling

June Andrews

June Andrews


June is a world authority on dementia care, whose work to enhance knowledge practice in dementia care focuses on improving the lives of people living with dementia and ensuring they are treated with dignity and respect.  She was presented with the Chief Nursing Officers’ Lifetime Achievement award at the 2012 Nursing Times Awards. Working across the health, social services, private and voluntary sectors, her background as a mental health and general nurse, trade union leader and senior civil servant has enabled her to involve the multiple agencies necessary to effectively improve patient care and experience.  

June has headed the Royal College of Nursing in Scotland, led the centre of change and innovation team within the Scottish government and is trustee of the Life Changes Trust, an independent charity distributing grants of £50m to improve dementia care in Scotland.


Professor Viv Bennett

Director of nursing, DH and Public Health England

Viv Bennett

Viv Bennett


Viv is director of nursing at Public Health England and at the Department of Health, where she provides policy, leadership and advice on public health nursing and midwifery.  She leads on the national strategy for nurses, midwives and care staff in partnership with Jane Cummings, Chief Nursing Officer at NHS England and is responsible for its implementation. Viv also leads the national health visiting programme and school nurse development programmes and is a Fellow of the Queen’s Nursing Institute and Visiting Professor at King’s College London.

After training in Oxford Viv worked in children’s nursing before qualifying as a health visitor in the early 1980sShe has worked in a number of NHS operational management and commissioning roles, also working for strategic health authorities and local government on projects relating to nursing strategy and services for children and families.

The judges said: ‘Viv demonstrates fantastic leadership and has really championed the cause of public health.’


Peter Blythin

Director of nursing, NHS Trust Development Authority

Peter Blythin

Peter Blythin

Peter qualified as a general nurse in Liverpool, before completing mental health registration in North Wales. Scholarships in America and Australia contributed to a clinical career in accident and emergency. He has a strong clinical background and a wealth of experience of the NHS, for which he has held a number of board positions.

After four years as the director of nursing and workforce at West Midlands Strategic Health Authority Peter joined the national health quality team. He works closely with the Department of Health chief nurse and is on the steering group overseeing the pilot scheme for student nurses to spend time working as a healthcare assistant before taking up their degree.

The judges said: ‘Peter was instrumental in the turnaround at Mid Staffs. He is passionate about quality and standards, but also about developing future leaders.’


Phil Boulter

Consultant nurse, learning disabilities, Surrey and Borders Partnership Foundation Trust

Phil Boulter

Phil Boulter

Phil has worked in learning disability and mental health nursing for over 30 years and has been involved in a number of nursing initiatives at national, regional and local levels), most recently reviewing the Essence of Care benchmark and quality of care workstream, as part of the Darzi Review. He and was recently one of two trust nurses invited to a reception with the Prime Minister.

While chair of the UK Learning Disability Consultant Nurse Network Phil was involved in the publication of “Shaping The Future - A Vision for Learning Disability Nursing”. He worked on The Health Equality Framework, a new way of measuring how well nursing interventions reduce health inequalities for people with learning disabilities, providing evidence for payment by results approaches. Officially launched in March, the Department of Health is now supporting its widespread take-up by clinical commissioning groups.

The judges said: ‘A quiet yet passionate supporter of learning disabilities nursing, Phil has led work on improving care for people with learning disabilities in acute settings. If you need advice on learning disabilities Phil is the person to call.’


Dr Neil Brimblecombe

Director of nursing, South London and Maudsley Foundation Trust

Neil Brimblecombe

Neil Brimblecombe

Neil came to SLAM in October 2013, having previously been director of nursing and chief operating officer for South Staffordshire and Shropshire Healthcare Foundation Trust. He was the Department of Health’s director of mental health nursing for four years, co-ordinating national reviews of mental health and learning disability nursing, and was visiting professor of mental health nursing at Nottingham University from 2006 to 2012.

Neil is currently chair of the Mental Health Forum, a national organisation promoting the development and sharing of best nursing practice, and has written on a range of mental health issues – particularly crisis services, changing professional roles and European mental health services.

Trained as a mental health nurse, Neil has degrees in nursing and medical anthropology, and received his PhD for researching outcomes in mental health crisis services.

The judges said: ‘Neil has done a lot of work on safe staffing and made a huge contribution to the mental health strategy that is currently evolving.’


Professor Hilary Chapman

Chief nurse/chief operating officer, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals FT

Hilary Chapman

Hilary Chapman

Hilary began her nursing career at the Northern General Hospital Sheffield, where she worked as staff nurse, then sister in cardiothoracic and critical care. Before returning to Sheffield for her current post she was chief nurse at the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire Trust. She also chairs the National Association of UK University Hospitals
Nurse Directors’ Group and is an expert member of the National Quality Board.

One of the most prominent chief nurses in the NHS Hilary has made a major contribution to health policy, system reform and healthcare delivery, and was made a CBE in 2012 in recognition of her services to Nursing.

The judges said: ‘Hilary is a stunning nurse director who has survived and thrived for a long time by being quietly effective yet very tough. She is keen to share good practice, and willing to ask for help when she needs it.’


Teresa Chinn

Professional social media community developer and blogger, WeNurses

Teresa Chinn

Teresa Chinn


While working as an agency nurse, Teresa began using social media to reduce feelings of professional isolation by connecting with other nurses for peer support and to share ideas.  This led her to set up the WeNurses online community, which uses a range of social media, particularly Twitter, to enable nurses to share ideas, information, experience and expertise. WeNurses now has over 17,000 Twitter followers and the model has been rolled out to other health professionals and nursing specialties.

Teresa is a recognised social media specialist, speaking at conferences, providing social media consultancy, and working with healthcare organisations to deliver workshops and seminars.

The judges said: ‘WeNurses is a brilliant idea that has snowballed beyond nursing, giving a growing range of health professionals access to peer support. Teresa is a new kind of leader, harnessing the huge reach of social media to create a sense of community that she found lacking when working as an agency nurse.’


Yvonne Coghill

Senior programme lead – inclusion and coaching, NHS Leadership Academy

Yvonne Coghill

Yvonne Coghill


Before joining the NHS Leadership Academy Yvonne worked as a programme lead at the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement, and as a nursing officer at the Department of Health. She is a strategic thinker, able to execute even the toughest brief, and has been recognised by HSJ as a BME pioneer, in recognition of her tireless campaigning for social justice and equality in the NHS.

Yvonne is committed to ensuring the NHS achieves a more diverse workforce in senior management, both from the principles of fairness and inclusion and to enable the service to benefit from the talent within its diverse workforce. And programme lead for the NHS Top Talent programme she has been responsible for identifying and nurturing many people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, helping them to develop the confidence, skills and expertise they need to compete for senior roles in the NHS.

The judges said: ‘Yvonne’s name crops up whenever champions of diversity are discussed. She is passionate about her work and not afraid to be controversial.’


Jane Cummings

Chief nursing officer, NHS England

Jane Cummings

Jane Cummings


After specialising in emergency care during her clinical nursing career Jane moved into a variety of managerial roles. She spent time at the Department of Health, including as national lead for emergency care, before moving to NHS North West in 2007 and becoming chief nurse for the north of England strategic health authority cluster in 2011. She was also the national lead for the Energise for Excellence programme, which aims to mobilise nurses to improve quality and reduce costs.

Jane developed Compassion in Practice, the national vision and strategy for nurses that identified the core nursing values known as the 6Cs. She is also a trustee of the Over the Wall Children’s Charity, which provides activity camps for children with life-limiting disease, and volunteers as a nurse at the children’s camps.

The judges said: ‘The 6Cs has really gained momentum and been extended to all health professionals, demonstrating its values are universal in the provision of high-quality care.’


Professor Judith Ellis

Executive dean, Faculty of Health and So

cial Care, London South Bank; deputy chair, Nursing and Midwifery Council

Prof Judith Ellis MBE

Prof Judith Ellis MBE

Judith’s career began as a general nurse before she moved into children’s nursing. After obtaining a PhD for research evaluating the effectiveness of clinical practice benchmarking she became a nurse development advisor in post-registration education at the Royal Liverpool Children’s Hospital, then a nurse educator at the University of Central Lancashire.

She spent three years at the Department of Health, focusing on quality, patient participation and public involvement before moving to Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children Trust as director of nursing and education.

In addition to her role at LSBU Judith is registrant member of the Nursing and Midwifery Council; she acted as interim chair for six months in 2012, helping to give the regulator stability after the sudden departure of its chief executive and registrar.

Awarded an MBE for services to paediatrics, Judith also chairs a charity training children’s nurses and doctors in Uganda. 

The judges said: ‘Judith helped to steer the NMC through a very difficult time, and always has the courage to say exactly what needs to be said.’


Baroness Audrey Emerton

Cross bench member, House of Lords

Audrey Emerton

Audrey Emerton

Despite approaching her 80th year, Baroness Emerton remains an active member of the House of Lords, where she is still known to work long hours when the need rises. Her nursing career began in 1953, and she progressed to become regional nursing officer the chair of the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s predecessor, the UKCC. In her nursing career she is perhaps best known as the guiding force behind the 1988 closure of Darenth Park Hospital – the first of the large institutions for people with learning disabilities to close in the UK, and the resettlement of its residents.

Audrey received a life peerage in 1997, only eight years after receiving a damehood. She joined St John Ambulance as a cadet and in over 60 years with the organisation she progressed to become its chancellor and chief commander.

The judges said:Audrey put in hundreds of hours working on the Health and Social Care Bill, and as our only representative in the Lords she fights for nursing day in day out, as well as keeping the other lords in line.’


Kath Evans

Head of patient experience, NHS England

Kath Evans

Kath Evans


Although both a general and children’s nurse, Kath’s main commitment is to enhancing healthcare services for children, young people and their families. Her previous roles include assistant director of nursing at the Whittington Trust and lead nurse in East and North Hertfordshire, where she managed acute and community children’s services, taking a key role in reconfiguration. She also established educational programmes across five London trusts to support and retain newly qualified nurses and worked as a lecturer at Middlesex University.

At the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement Kath led the children’s and young people’s emergency and urgent care programme, working with organisations across England to enhance system-wide care for Children and Young People.

The judges said: ‘A huge ambassador for children’s nursing who has significantly influenced the profession, particularly in the community and in relation to safeguarding.’


Nathan Filer

Mental health nurse and author, The Shock of the Fall

Nathan Filer

Nathan Filer


Although his first novel led to a bidding war among publishers and won the 2013 Costa book award’s £30,000 top prize, Nathan Filer continues to practise as a mental health nurse. His novel charts the young boy’s descent into mental illness after the death of his brother, and his journey through mental health services.

Nathan was mindful of the potential impact of his work on perception of mental illness among his readers, and took care to write about an individual rather than an illness – although readers can infer that his protagonist has schizophrenia no diagnosis is given in the book. He told The New Statesman that he used the novel to raise questions about the location of mental illness.


Dame Elizabeth Fradd

Vice president of council, University of Nottingham

Liz Fradd

Liz Fradd

Elizabeth has a solid track record in delivering improvements in healthcare and a lifetime’s interest in children’s nursing – her many achievements were recognised when she was made a Dame in 2009. She played a key role in developing the NHS cultural barometer in 2011, helping individuals, teams or organisations to identify their risk of cultural issues leading to poor care.

Among her senior roles Elizabeth has been director of nursing and education at the NHS Executive West Midlands and assistant chief nursing officer (nursing practice) at the Department of Health. She has been an active member of several child-focused committees over her career, including over 10 years chairing the Joint British Advisory Committee for Children’s Nursing, served on the Commission for Health Improvement as director of nursing and lead director for the inspection and review programme, and led the government’s health visitor taskforce.

The judges said: ‘Liz has made some phenomenal achievements in practice and on policy and working groups. She been given poison chalices at every turn yet always manages to deliver.’


Professor Peter Griffiths

Chair of health services research, University of Southampton

Peter Griffiths

Peter Griffiths


A general nurse by background Peter has a long track record of research into the nursing workforce, both in his previous role as director of the National Nursing Research Unit and in his current role. His recent work includes the evaluation of innovations in service delivery, including nurse-led sub-acute care and the national roll-out of the Productive Ward programme in England and Canada.

Peter has a key role in the ongoing international RN4CAST study investigating the link between nurse staffing and mortality, which is generating evidence to inform safe staffing guidance and demonstrating clearly that sufficient numbers of qualified nursing staff are crucial to the delivery of high-quality, safe patient care.

The judges said: ‘Peter is a stunning researcher whose work over time deserves recognition.’


Elaine Inglesby Burke

Executive nurse director and deputy chief executive, Salford Royal Foundation Trust

Elaine Inglesby-Burke

Elaine Inglesby-Burke


After qualifying as a nurse in 1980 Elaine specialised in critical care and general medicine, and held various clinical positions at ward level and nurse specialist. Having held senior management roles since 1996 she maintains her clinical skills by regular clinical shifts and executive safety shifts with frontline staff.

Elaine joined Salford Royal in 2004, when it was working to improve a poor performance record. She helped to establish a culture in which patient safety is paramount, and the trust is now widely considered an NHS leader in safety and quality improvement. Responding to evidence on safe staffing levels Elaine set a ratio of no more than eight patients to one registered nurse across the trust, and introduced boards displaying nurse numbers on wards – a move NHS England has since required all trusts to adopt.

The judges said: ‘Elaine has led the way on safe staffing.’


Charlotte Johnston

Student nurse, University of Lincoln



Despite not yet being a qualified nurse, Charlotte Johnston is at the forefront of the drive to prevent pressure ulcers. After a Twitter exchange with Ruth May, chief nurse for the Midlands and East, on the Stop the Pressure campaign, Charlotte was inspired to create a student conference to raise awareness that most pressure ulcers can be prevented, and to increase students’ skills in pressure ulcer prevention.

The event, organised with the support of NHS Improving Quality, attracted 500 students to hear speakers that included Ruth May and representatives from the Clinical Research Trials Institute, NHS Quest and the local NHS trust. It gained local, national and social media coverage, made Charlotte a finalist in the 2014 Student Nursing Times Awards, and is being replicated in universities across the country.

The judges said: ‘Charlotte has put pressure ulcer care on the student agenda and has influenced clinical practice in NHS trusts – an inspiring example from someone so early in her career.’


Alison Kelly

Director of nursing and quality, Countess of Chester Hospital

Alison Kelly

Alison Kelly

Alison initially qualified as an enrolled nurse in 1988 in London then moved back to the North West where she converted to a Registered General Nurse in 1990 in Oldham. She gained her clinical experience mainly in surgical and intensive care environment,s taking a particular interest in education, training and practice development.

While a clinical educator in the critical care unit at East Cheshire Trust she also took an honorary lecturer position at Keele University to support the Diploma in Critical Care. She gained a wide range of experience as a senior nurse within the North West, including over four years as deputy chief nurse at University Hospital of South Manchester before taking her current role in March 2013.

As well as her passion for education and development, Alison is particularly interested in the patient experience and identifying how patient feedback can enhance care.

The judges said: ‘Alison is regarded as a visionary by her staff for her commitment to improving the working environment, which also benefits patient care.’


Claire Kent

Matron, emergency services, Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital Foundation Trust, King’s Lynn

Claire Kent

Claire Kent


A respiratory specialist nurse before taking her current role, Claire was a finalist in the emerging leader category of the National NHS Leadership Recognition Awards; she is admired for her patient-focused attitude and commitment to caring for both patients and staff.

Claire has developed a training programme on privacy and dignity for all her trust’s nurses and allied health professionals, and is described as the type of person most of her staff aspire to be – a compassionate but firm leader who helps others to achieve their goals while ensuring they remain patient-focused. She is known for supporting not only her own teams but others across the trust, and as a valued mentor and coach.

The judges said: ‘Claire is as close to the front line as it gets, and highlights to senior managers the value of outstanding clinical leadership.’


Helen Kirk

Head of occupational health transition, Public Health England

Helen Kirk

Helen Kirk


Helen joined Public Health England in 2013 to build an exemplar work and health service. At the vanguard of occupational health nursing for over a decade, she has worked with a range of public and private sector organisations, including over 100 NHS trusts. After researching evidence-based occupational health she was invited to review the future configuration of all NHS OH services (The Kirk Report).

The first nurse to publish primary research in the journal Occupational Medicine, Helen also won a prize from the American Association of OH Nursing for her article on careers in OH nursing. She is a former chair of the RCN’s OH Management Forum and currently represents the RCN on the UK Council for Work and Health. She established the national database of OH nurses that has become an enabler for evidence-based nursing and practice research, and is a specialist advisor to the CQC.


Helen Laverty

Lecturer, University of Nottingham and facilitator, Positive Choices network

Helen Laverty

Helen Laverty


When Helen qualified as a learning disability nurse in 1982, the field was going through a time of major change.  Although her career began in a long-stay hospital, this was the advent of care in the community, and Helen opened the first group home in Lincolnshire in 1984. She moved into nurse education in 1987, and aims to ensure people with a learning disability have access to what the rest of society takes for granted by promoting partnership and inclusion in her teaching. 

Helen believes learning disability nurses face particular challenges in making their voices heard. In response to low student morale she brought together a team of academics, service colleagues, service users and 400 students to celebrate their contribution into the lives of people with a learning disability. Now 10 years old, Positive Choices is the largest student nurse conference in Europe, giving a voice to a small, often misunderstood yet vital branch of the profession.

The judges said: ‘Helen has done much to encourage students to feel good about choosing learning disability nursing, and improved professional morale.’


Dr Alison Leary

Independent healthcare consultant and researcher

Alison Leary

Alison Leary


Alison is an independent healthcare consultant and researcher who practised as a cancer nurse specialist for 15 years and has an academic background in science, nursing, medicine and mathematics. Her interests are in the modelling of complex systems, data mining and pattern recognition; this includes workforce modelling in healthcare and economic cost-benefit analysis. Much of her work in this area is in defining specialist practice including areas such as admission avoidance; she helped to develop the Apollo Nursing Resource for specialist nurses and gives masterclasses to specialist nurses on how to evaluate their service and demonstrate their worth.

Alison’s educational work includes the IQ Star and other educational programmes and workshops that help specialists from many professions to articulate their contribution to healthcare. Her clinical and research interests include pre-hospital and immediate care, thoracic surgical and oncology research and cancer nursing practice. She remains in part time clinical practice in the NHS and holds an honorary academic appointment at Kings College London.

The judges said: ‘Alison has done a lot of work on justifying the role of the clinical nurse specialist.’


Daniel Marsden

Practice development nurse, learning disabilities, East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust

Daniel Marsden

Daniel Marsden


Having worked in the field for since the early 1990s, Daniel qualified as a learning disability nurse in 1998 and has spent his career improving access to acute healthcare to people with learning disabilities. In his current role he supports staff in developing skills to respond to the needs of people with learning disabilities when they use his trust’s services. This includes delivering training, policy development, project management, clinical leadership, facilitation, research and audit. He helped to develop a system to identify and track inpatients who have learning disabilities, and facilitated a community project to develop healthcare passports in East Kent.

Daniel chaired the South East England Community Learning Disability Nurses Forum from 2004 to 2009, and represented the National Network of Learning Disability Nurses on the reference group for chief nursing officer’s Good Practice in Learning Disability Nursing. He is a facilitator of the social media community WeLDNurses.

The judges said: ‘A really good example of someone who has just got on with improving services for people with learning disabilities.’


Dr Ruth May

Regional chief nurse for NHS England (Midlands and East)

Ruth May

Ruth May


Ruth has a theatre nursing background and nearly 30 years’ experience in the NHS. She has held a number of high-profile leadership roles including chief nurse at NHS East of England, and two chief executive roles at two acute hospitals and a primary care group.

On the Nursing Care Quality Forum set up in by the prime minister and health secretary, Ruth led the patient experience workstream, and has supported the development of the Friends and Family Test programme. She has also led work on safe staffing levels across the country.

Her passion for improving fundamental aspects of nursing care led Ruth to set up Stop the Pressure in her region. This campaign to eliminate avoidable pressure ulcers is now being rolled out nationally, having engaged both nurses and students in the Midlands and East region.

The judges said: ‘Having been CEO of two NHS trusts Ruth brought clinical issues to board level, while her work with Stop the Pressure has really gained momentum.’


Debra Moore

Managing director, Debra Moore Associates

Best known for her work in learning disability nursing, Debra now runs a consultancy and training company that works with individuals, teams and organisations with a focus on creating environments that are person-centred and high-performing; she is also a joint editor of the Journal of Learning Disabilities and Offending Behaviour.

Debra worked for over 20 years within the NHS across community, inpatients and high secure services in clinical and managerial positions, and has also been learning disability nurse advisor to the Department of Health (England). After the Winterbourne View scandal Debra joined parent company Castlebeck as director of nursing and patient safety, supporting nurses there through the move to a new organization when Castlebeck closed.

The judges said: ‘Debra champions the role of learning disability nursing and is an inspiring role model.’


Ros Moore

Chief nursing officer, Scotland

Ros Moore

Ros Moore


Ros spent her early nursing career in medicine, paediatrics and surgery before becoming a nurse teacher at Leeds College of Health in 1989. She returned to the NHS in 1996 to take up senior posts in an acute trust and was the first chief nurse at NHS Direct, helping to develop the service nationally.

While working with the chief nursing officer in England between 2004 and 2009 she led on activities relating to acute care, quality, productivity, workforce development and research. A firm believer in using technology to improve healthcare provision, in 2009 she became director of nursing at NHS Connecting for Health before moving north of the border in 2010. Her focus as Scotland’s chief nurse has been on re-engaging nursing with its core values.

The judges said: ‘Nursing in Scotland is in a different place since Ros went there – it has come on leaps and bounds. She speaks from the heart and has always led by example.’


Professor Trish Morris-Thompson

Director of quality and clinical governance, Barchester Healthcare

Trish Morris-Thompson

Trish Morris-Thompson


Trish has over 30 years’ experience working in the NHS in London and the midlands, with over 12 years as an executive director. She spent time in South Australia before returning to London where she became chief nurse in North East London Strategic Health Authority from 2003 to 2006. She was appointed chief nurse for NHS London in 2006, and awarded a professorship of nursing and midwifery leadership at Bucks New University in 2012.

A well-established author Trish has written for a range of professional publications. She is founder of the online community Britain’s Nurses, vice-chair of the Woman of the Year Foundation, and trustee to Shooting Star Chase Hospices and the Florence Nightingale Foundation. She was a Florence Nightingale Foundation Burdett Scholar 2011/12, and was awarded a clinical fellowship by the Royal College of Nursing for services to nursing and patient care in 2012.

The judges said: ‘When other people talk about it Trish is out there doing it, and is now blazing a trail in the private and charitable sector.’


Joan Myers

Nurse consultant, community children’s nursing, Whittington Health, London.

Joan Myers

Joan Myers


Joan is a children’s nurse, now working in the community. She was part of the Darzi Children’s Clinical Pathway Group in 2008, was an expert panel member of healthcare for London’s community and primary care services, and recently completed a secondment to the Department of Health as professional officer for diversity, advising the chief nursing officer.

Joan moved to NHS Islington in 2003, where she became the UK’s first nurse consultant for community children’s nursing, supporting and mentoring health visitors and community children’s nurses.  She has set-up and run a nurse-led eczema service, leading a team of 35, as well as creating asthma and allergy nurse posts – reducing children’s need to see GPs or specialists. Joan has also set up a programme in Kenya to feed 25 homeless children, and is trying to establish a children’s home in Kenya.

The judges said: “Joan is an outstanding role model and has done great work on diversity in the NHS as well a for children’s nursing.”



Dr Crystal Oldman

Chief executive, Queen’s Nursing Institute

Crystal Oldman

Crystal Oldman


Before joining the QNI in 2012 Crystal had a career of two halves. She spent 18 years in the NHS, initially in burns, plastics, oncology and ITU before she turned to health visiting, working with some of the most deprived communities in west London. A passion for learning, teaching and research to support best practice led to a move into nurse education in 1994, when she joined Buckinghamshire New University as a senior lecturer, to develop a variety of community nursing programmes.

Crystal’s academic career spanned 18 years, culminating in her role as dean of enterprise and business management in the Faculty of Society and Health. This role included the development of partnerships with external agencies to promote research and assist in workforce development.

The judges said: ‘Crystal has really got to grips with her new role and is doing some really high-profile work, especially in addressing the decline of community nursing.’


Dr Theresa Porrett

Senior medical manager, Coloplast

Terri Porrett

Terri Porrett


Before joining Coloplast in 2011 Terri was a nurse consultant in coloproctology at Homerton Hospital in London. Here she was instrumental in developing a range of nurse-led colorectal services and helping the Homerton’s colorectal nursing department gain accreditation from City University as an academic department of advanced colorectal nursing practice.

Terri’s expertise as a clinical nurse specialist has also led her to write two books and numerous articles on colorectal nursing practice. However, her influence spreads beyond her specialty thanks to her championing of clinical nurse specialists in general. She has played a key role in developing the Apollo Nursing Resource, an online tool to help clinical nurse specialists to evaluate their contribution. This may help to persuade employers looking to make savings that dispensing with these comparatively expensive practitioners does not make financial sense.

The judges said: ‘A real champion for colorectal nursing and specialist nursing in general.’


Professor Anne Marie Rafferty

Professor of Nursing Policy and former Dean, Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery and Director of Academic Outreach, Kings College London

Anne-Marie Rafferty

Anne-Marie Rafferty


If nursing needs some thought leadership it often turns to Anne Marie. Although a nurse through and through she has also studied history and policy analysis and has a phenomenal amount of research under her belt, particularly in relation to workforce, the working environment, nurse and patient outcomes and health policy.

In addition to clinical practice and nurse education, Anne Marie has spent time at the Department of Health, advising Lord Ara Darzi on nursing when he led a review of the NHS. She was also a member of the Prime Minister’s Commission on the Future of Nursing and Midwifery 2009-10. Although one of the profession’s leading thinkers she has not lost touch with its founding principles, and believes Florence Nightingale should still be required reading for all nurses.

The judges said: ‘A truly creative thinker who always manages to put a new twist on things – an academic leader of the highest level.’


Professor Elizabeth Robb

Chief executive, The Florence Nightingale Foundation

Liz Robb

Liz Robb


A Florence Nightingale Scholarship has boosted the careers of many nurses, but Elizabeth Robb appreciated hers so much came back to lead the foundation that invests in leadership by providing nurses and midwives with scholarships to study at home or abroad. Qualified as both a nurse and midwife, Elizabeth is keen to engender academic scholarship in the professions, and is perfectly suited to lead the foundation charged with keeping the spirit of Florence Nightingale alive.

Elizabeth is also heavily involved in the Safe Staffing Alliance and the campaign for a ratio of one nurse to eight patients that has been recognised as the minimum safe ratio by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

The judges said: ‘Liz has really taken the Florence Nightingale Foundation forward – it punches way above its weight.’


Tom Sandford

Director, Royal College of Nursing, England

Tom Sandford

Tom Sandford

Qualified as both a general and a mental health nurse, Tom joined the RCN in 1992 as a policy adviser after working in family therapy and acute and liaison psychiatry. He is a well known advocate for nurse directors, and often their first port of call when they need moral or practical support.

Tom has continued to contribute to the development of care in mental health services in his time at the RCN. He involved service users in a training programme for community psychiatric nurses before most organisations even paid lip service to user involvement. More recently he has been involved in supporting service user employment projects and has also served on several public inquiries into failures of mental health services.

The judges said: ‘An unsung hero. I’m one of the thousands of people he has helped.’


Dr Theresa Shaw

Chief executive, Foundation of Nursing Studies

Theresa Shaw

Theresa Shaw


Theresa is passionate about enabling nurses to flourish as caring, knowledgeable and skilled practitioners, and to supporting practice development to improve patient experience. Her doctoral research offers an important view into the contribution of practice development and service improvement activity to creating more person-centred practice and culture. 

During 17 years in the NHS Teresa’s experience spanned clinical nursing, education and practice development. While her clinical expertise lies in cardiothoracic nursing, Theresa has worked with and supported nurses and nurse-led teams across healthcare practice. She chaired the NICE guideline development group for irritable bowel syndrome, is an honorary senior research fellow at Canterbury Christ Church University, and has an honorary practice development role at Queen’s Hospital, Romford where she is piloting FoNS’ Creating Caring Cultures initiative within the medical assessment unit.

The judges said: ‘Theresa has made a huge contribution to practice development, supporting nurses to put their ideas into practice and giving frontline nurses tools that help them in their day-to-day practice.’


Janice Sigsworth

Director of Nursing, Imperial College Healthcare Trust

Janice Sigsworth

Janice Sigsworth


Janice joined the Trust from the Department of Health, where she was deputy chief nurse (England). With a clinical background in respiratory medicine and long-term conditions, she has a BSc in Nursing, MSc in Health Service Management.

Her priorities at Imperial College Healthcare Trust have been to prepare the nurses and midwives to lead and develop compassionate and high-quality patient care.

With a career spanning more than three decades, Janice has championed the patient’s voice in care planning and service design, as well as to the board. She has worked to integrate education and research into clinical practice, believing this integration brings a vibrant learning environment and improves care.  

Janice is passionate about the nursing and midwifery voice being heard at all levels of healthcare. She is a member of the Nursing Times Advisory Board and a special trustee of the Foundation of Nursing Studies.

The Judges said: ‘Janice has provided best-practice case studies wherever she has worked. A consummate nurse leader and champion of patient care.’


Eileen Sills

Chief Nurse and Director of Patient Experience at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust

Eileen Sills

Eileen Sills

Eileen began her nursing career in Stockport, and went on to specialise in A&E. In her first ward sister role she developed the ward into a nursing development unit, becoming one of the first to receive pump-priming from the King’s Fund. She has held a number of senior management posts and is a visiting professor at King’s College London and London South Bank University, and is a trustee for the Burdett Trust for Nursing.

At Guy’s and St Thomas’ she has made staff engagement a priority and created a culture in which staff feel confident enough to highlight problems, enabling the trust to learn from them. She has just become chair of the Chief Nurses of the Shelford Group of  10 leading NHS multi-specialty academic healthcare organisations., which shares best practice and benchmarking and represents the interests of large tertiary centres and the wider NHS to government, Parliament and industry.

The judges said: ‘A really trusted nursing colleague. Her work on staff engagement reaches beyond Guy’s and St Thomas’.’


Commander Pauline Small

SO1 Naval Nursing, Reserves, Royal Naval Reserve Medical Branch

Pauline Small

Pauline Small

Pauline qualified as a nurse in 1980 and joined the Royal Naval Reserve and Queen Alexandra’s Royal Naval Nursing Service in 1999. She currently works in support to Commander Maritime Reserves. Her civilian post is associate nurse director at NHS Fife, where she provides professional advice and support on nursing, midwifery and allied health professionals. She manages the practice and professional development team, which provides continuing professional development for primary and community nurses, and is organisational lead on issues including professional regulation, non-medical prescribing, modernising community nursing, and child and adult protection, and is NHS Fife armed forces champion.

Her work with the Royal Naval Reserve has included periods in Cyprus and Gibraltar, and she has participated in several exercises with the Royal Navy, Royal Marines and Territorial Army including training at sea, testing the capability of the primary casualty receiving facility.

The judges said: ‘Pauline has been hugely influential in encouraging healthcare providers to release employees to act as reservists.’


Janice Smyth

RCN Director, Northern Ireland

Janice Smyth

Janice Smyth


Janice joined the RCN in 2005 as deputy director and head of employment relations, before being appointed their director in Northern Ireland in May 2009, leading nurses locally in Northern Ireland as well as representing them at a UK level. Among her many achievements there has been to ensure the RCN has good working relationships with all political parties.

Prior to joining the RCN, Janice was a nursing officer in the Nursing and Midwifery Advisory Group at Northern Ireland’s Department of Health, where she had responsibility for education, professional regulation, workforce and leadership.

In her earlier career, Janice spent several years in the independent sector as director of nursing of a large nursing home group before moving to the Northern Health and Social Services Board as a registration and inspection officer.

The judges said: ‘Janice put the move from hospital to community care on the national agenda for Northern Ireland.’


Professor Janice Stevens

Managing director, Health Education West Midlands

Janice Stevens

Janice Stevens


Janice’s NHS career, spanning over 30 years, began as an A&E nurse and progressed to the highest level in policy development. Working for the chief nursing officer for England she led three high-profile initiatives, reducing MRSA by 80% and C.difficile by 60% and the elimination of mixed-sex accommodation. This work culminated in her being awarded a CBE in 2010 and becoming an Honorary Professor at the University of West London.

After leaving the Department of Health, Janice worked as an independent consultant in over 30 organisations, undertook independent reviews at trusts following adverse CQC inspections on aspects of quality and safety and was a member of the Prime Minister’s Nursing Care Quality Forum. Priorities in her current role include widening participation in healthcare careers and developing a new approach to return to practice for nurses.

The judges said: ‘A compelling leader – her achievement in reducing the incidence of healthcare-acquired infections was extraordinary.’


Barbara Stilwell

Senior director of health workforce solutions, IntraHealth International

Barbara Stilwell

Barbara Stilwell


When working as a community nurse in Birmingham in the 1970s, Barbara found that many patients had no one to consult about health issues such as where to get their children immunised, or how to stop smoking, except for the toooverstretched GPs. Realising there was a gap that could be filled by nurses she won a scholarship to study in the US to become a nurse practitioner, then helped to establish the UK’s first training nurse practitioner training programme. On the 60th anniversary of the founding of the NHS Nursing Times named Barbara one of the top 20 most influential nurses of the past 60 years.

For the past 25 years, Barbara has worked overseas, first with the World Health Organization and now with IntraHealth international, an organization that empowers health professionals to serve communities in need. She is currently based in Ramallah, helping to improve healthcare for the Palestinian people.

The judges said: ‘Barbara has made a huge contribution to nursing in the UK and internationally.’


Dr Ben Thomas

Professional officer for mental health, learning disabilities and dementia care, Department of Health, England

Ben Thomas

Ben Thomas


Ben has held a number of leadership roles in clinical and academic positions in the UK and Australia, including chief nurse at St Vincent’s Mental Health Service. He has served on a number of ministerial reviews and advisory committees to governments in Malaysia, South Korea, China and Australia, and chaired the Positive and Proactive Care steering committee on reducing restrictive interventions; he now leads two Positive and Safe workstreams: workforce training and development and monitoring, recording and reporting. 

Ben also chairs the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership’s mental health independent advisory group. He is a fellow of the RCN and the Asia/Australia Mental Health Programme, a senior fellow at Kingston University and St George’s University of London, and visiting professor at London South Bank University.

The judges said: ‘Ben has a long profile in mental health and learning disability nursing and is hugely respected for his achievements in shaping policy in these areas.’


Professor Cathy Warwick CBE

General Secretary, Royal College of Midwives

Cathy Warwick

Cathy Warwick


Cathy is a well-respected midwife who has contributed to her profession in clinical practice, senior managerial roles in the NHS and midwifery education. Although seen as a voice of reason she not afraid to stand up for midwifery vociferously when necessary. She constantly challenges the status quo with new ways of developing and delivering women-focused care, and championed the Albany midwifery practice to be included in the local NHS sector as independent midwives practitioners. This model remains a facet for midwifery care provision. Her charisma and leadership has brought about fundamental change for women both locally nationally as caseload midwifery practice has evolved.

As chair of the NMC’s midwifery committee she has worked to ensure that regulation is used to promote the highest standards of midwifery practice.

The judges said: ‘A tremendous leader of the RCM, she has made it a positive and high-profile organisation.’



Professor Jean White

Chief nursing officer (Wales)/nurse director NHS Wales

Jean White

Jean White


Jean was appointed as chief nursing officer for Wales in 2010. Welsh by birth, she trained as a general nurse in Swansea and practised as a theatre nurse in Wales and London. Jean has held positions in nurse education, at the Welsh National Board, Health Professions Wales and Welsh Government.  She has worked with a number of European governments, and is an expert adviser to WHO European Region.

Credited with putting Wales ahead of the game in safe staffing, Jean is known as a quiet diplomat who constantly keeps nursing on the Welsh government’s agenda.

Jean is an Honorary Visiting Professor to the School of Nursing and Midwifery Studies, Cardiff University and a Trustee of the Florence Nightingale Foundation. She was made Fellow of Swansea University in January 2013.

The judges said: ‘Jean is the calm voice of reason in negotiations. She is a quiet leader, but when she speaks you really listen to her.’


Dr Suzette Woodward

Director of safety, learning and people, NHS Litigation Authority

Suzette Woodward

Suzette Woodward


After 10 years at the National Patient Safety Agency Suzette is, to many, the face of patient safety. Her pre-NPSA career included paediatric intensive care nursing, specialist clinical management, and policy development at the Department of Health. However, it is largely down to her leadership at the NPSA that in 2013 she was named one of the top 50 inspirational women in the NHS by Nursing Times’ sister title HSJ.

Suzette’s new role involves using her expertise to define the NHS LA’s role in improving patient and staff safety. This will see the authority move away from standards and assessments towards an outcome-focused approach that will enable the NHS to learn from claims in order to reduce harm to patients and staff. It will hopefully

The judges said:Listening to Suzette speak on patient safety is inspiring. She also gives staff the tools they need to implement a zero harm culture.’




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Readers' comments (14)

Do you agree with our judges? Is anyone missing from the list? Join the debate below, and look out for the call for nominations in 2015 to ensure your choices are in with a chance

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  • Anon above - here is the link to the report you have mentioned and I sadly agree with everything you have said, nothing will change in nursing until the nursing times stops showering honours on the very people who are casuing the problems. Nursing in Wales is in a mess and has been for years, there are no effective nurse leaders in Wales (to be fair you had to scrub around to find just one) and pretending there are by having these type of awards are only adding to the problems.

    Report of the external independent Review of the Princess of Wales Hospital and Neath Port Talbot Hospital at Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board

    I would suggest the inclusion of Jean White is a nod to Welsh readers of the NT.

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  • so why are they not all out there looking after patients?

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  • Leaders?? my foot. Good self publicists though.

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  • most nurses work extremely hard.

    most nurses do an excellent job and always seek ways for improvement

    most nurses, by nature of their work, are leaders in at least some aspects of it

    why are some, who seem to have no contact with patients, being singled out?

    What does 'Nursing Times Leader' signify and what does that mean to very sick patients requiring direct hands on nursing care?

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  • I totally agree with the above comments. The so called leaders MUST come down from their Ivory Towers and study the problems in nursing and kick a--e to put them right. There are more impressive leaders at ward and department level that keep the NHS going even though the resources allocated to them are a joke

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  • How are the nurse leaders judged? Are clinical staff, from where the "leader" works, involved in the decision?

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  • And only two people in the uniforms...

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  • the problem is if you let yourself be led somebody will take advantage and take over and lead you. if you develop your own skills you will be the leader. this should apply to every single nurse. nurses all use leadership skills everyday of their working life. they should analyse and develop these. this is the only way, with a strong and leadership savvy workforce the profession will be taken any notice of, listened to and able to meet its needs for effective patient care. without these skills you will maintain the status quo and with little hope of any improvement or of the profession's future.

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  • I totally support this award for Cathy Warwick, Gail Adams and Ben thomas, I cannot comment on others. kathy

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