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Celebrating Nursing Stars during Covid-19

Nursing Stars


We have been collecting examples of your amazing work and stories during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In July last year we breathed fresh life into a campaign to highlight the amazing work of our readers, broadening it out to include community nurses and midwives as well as practice nurses.

We changed the name from the original 2018 title Ninja Nurses to Nursing Stars and ran Q & As in which nurses and midwives told us inspirational stories of the work they have been doing during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The World Health Organization and NHS England cancelled events last year that were to mark the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife. So we felt it was more important than ever to celebrate your work.

We are contining to post good news stories about Nursing Stars below. If you have a story for us, or know a nurse who would like to do a Q & A, please contact either reporter mimilaunder@cogora.com or emilytwinch@cogora.com.

19 October – Kingston University unveils artwork honouring nurses on the frontline of Covid-19 pandemic

Two murals depicting the everyday life of a nurse and honouring the resilience and compassion shown by healthcare workers during the Covid-19 pandemic, have been unveiled as part of the modernisation of teaching facilities at Kingston University.

The artwork called A Day in the Life was commissioned during the Covid-19 pandemic and shows the diversity of the nursing profession and other healthcare roles.

Sally Richardson, Associate Professor in Simulated Learning and Clinical Skills, and Jo Low, Simulation Suite Manager collaborated with local artist and Kingston University alumnus Alban Low, on their vision for the two pieces.

24 August – Dorset scheme to get district nurses on bikes expanded after success

Increasingly Dorset Healthcare’s mobile nursing teams are switching from cars – the usual mode of transport for district nurses today – to electric bikes to help the environment, bypass traffic jams and promote healthy living. The Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust has since provided £2,000 to expand the scheme to other areas such as Dorchester and Bournemouth. 

Hattie Taylor, lead district nurse for Purbeck, said: ‘You can get through traffic more easily and don’t have to worry about finding a parking space when you get to an appointment. Cycling also gives us a bit of clear headspace between visits, and we feel like we are setting a good example around staying fit, active and healthy.’

17 August – QNI launches ‘Year of Nurse and Midwife’ animated film

The animation, narrated by Call the Midwife actor Stephen McGann, comes after the World Health Organization (WHO) extended the Year of the Nurse and Midwife from its original year 2020 into 2021 Many of the events to celebrate the year in 2020 were postponed because of the Covid pandemic.

QNI chief executive Dr Crystal Oldman said the film ‘tried to capture the essence of nursing in the community’ from ‘its roots with Florence Nightingale’ to the ‘indispensable contribution of today’s nurses working in the community’.

12 August – District nurse wins £5m lottery jackpot – but vows to continue working

Paul and Louise Drake from West Lothian, Scotland have won £5,162,779 playing the National Lottery – but she said she can’t give up her work because she cares for people who are often very sick and dying. She told STV News: ‘It’s been very very hard and our work isn’t something that can be postponed. We are dealing with people in their own homes who often need daily visits and people who are palliative with end of life care.’

19 July – Nursing students create tartan incorporating the colours of Scotland’s national nurse uniform

The woven cloth – which is the first of its kind – features shades of blue with burgundy detail to echo the official outfits worn by NHS nurses, healthcare assistants and student nurses across the country. It was created by nursing students at the University of Edinburgh.

The project has been developed in partnership with Nursing Now – a global campaign established in 2018 to promote nursing and its vital role in improving health and transforming healthcare – and as part of the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife,

13 July – Nursing associate receives silver award in inaugural chief nurse adult social care awards

Registered nursing associate Emily Burton – who works at Stewton House in Louth – today received the first ever award for a social care nursing associate. This is as part of the inaugural chief nurse adult social care awards celebrating professionals working across the sector.

5 July – The NHS celebrates its birthday

The NHS turned 73 after an extremely challenging year – and on the day that the Queen awarded the George Cross to the national health services of the UK.

1 July – Government responds to petition to protect nurse title

The Government has said it will ‘consider in detail’ whether to protect the title of ‘nurse’ in UK law amid concerns about misuse. The pledge comes in response to a petition, which has reached more than 20,000 signatures, calling for the ‘nurse’ title to be protected in UK law.  Currently, ‘registered nurse’ and ‘nursing associate’ are protected titles – but ‘nurse’ is not, so anyone can legally call themselves a nurse.

7 June – Senior nurse plants tree alongside health secretary Matt Hancock

Sam Foster, chief nursing officer at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Matt Hancock planted one of ten Japanese cherry (Sakura) blossom trees in Oxford Botanic Gardens ahead of the G7 summit, to commemorate those who died during the Covid-19 pandemic.

4 June – Dementia UK announces £1m investment in dementia nurses to support families through diagnosis

Dementia UK has announced a £1m investment in dementia specialist admiral nurse posts to provide ongoing support to families in need of a diagnosis and following one, in addition to supporting primary care professionals, such as GPs, in their understanding around dementia.

The areas that have so far been identified to support a potential of 19 roles are Somerset, Dorset, Northumberland, Cumbria, Leeds, London, Shropshire, Cambridgeshire, Buckinghamshire, Essex, Sussex, and Leicestershire; further roles are planned for other parts of the UK.

26 May – QNI launches book of stories on school nursing written by school nurses

The QNI has launched a book of stories on school nursing written by school nurses written by school nurses themselves, featuring 19 different case studies. The book can be downloaded here.

12 May – International Nurses’ Day: Nurse wins top award

Maria Nelligan, chief nursing officer at Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust (LSCft) is handed the Chief NuRsing Officer Award by England’s CNO Ruth May.

Maria Nelligan, chief nursing officer at Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust (LSCft) was ‘bowled over’ when she was presented with a national Chief Nursing Officer Award at an International Nurses’ Day event. On hand to present the top accolade was chief nursing officer for NHS England, Ruth May.

11 May – Dua Lipa calls for higher pay rise for nurses

Dua Lipa, who won best female solo artist and best album, used her acceptance speech to pay tribute to Dame Elizabeth Anionwu, an emeritus professor of nursing at the University of West London – and ask for a higher pay rise for nurses.

She said: ‘She has spent her stellar nursing career fighting racial injustice, she has also spent so much time and is a strong, strong advocate for protecting frontline workers. She has also said that there’s a massive disparity between gratitude and respect for frontline workers because it’s very good to clap for them, but we need to pay them. So I think what we should do is we should all give a massive, massive round of applause and give Boris a message that we all support a fair pay rise for our frontline.’

5 May – Great British Bake Off winner asks people to Raise Your Risks to support nurses and midwives

Great British Bake Off winner (2019) and registered nurse David Atherton is asking people to make cakes and host bake sales to support nurses, midwives and healthcare assistancts.

For International Day of the Midwife (5 May) and International Nurses’ Day (12 May), Great British Bake Off winner (2019) and registered nurse David Atherton is asking people to Raise Your Whisks to support nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants facing hardship. People are encouraged to make cakes and host bake sales and the charity behind the campaign, Cavell Nurses’ Trust, has lots of ideas on how to create a successful and safe event.

24 April – Photo series shows heroes behind vaccination effort

Working with the NHS, photojournalists have captured the monumental collective effort of the largest vaccination programme in British history in a series of poignant photographs. See a selection below.

Vaccination bus, Leeds
Rathlin Islan, Northern Ireland by Gavin Chestnutt 
Salisbury Cathedral

9 April – Care home provider up against TSB and Hitachi for top employer award

Care UK is the only care home provider in the country to be shortlisted for its dedication to employee training and development at the UK Employee Experience Awards.

HR Director Leah Queripel said: ‘We were thrilled when we heard we had been shortlisted against so many major household name employers.’

2 April – Florence Nightingale Museum battle for survival continues

The Florence Nightingale Museum is grateful for any support as it awaits the return of visitors. In January, it said it will close because of the impact of Covid-19 but expects to open again once visitors return in sustainable numbers.

20 March – Nurses and healthcare workers vaccinate half the adult population

Half the adult population have been now vaccinated, with nurses shouldering most of the work.

5 February – Nursing Stars Q&A: Ruth Oshikanlu

Independent nure entrepreneur Ruth Oshikanlu, who support women who have assisted conception or previous pregnancy loss, reveals how she supported mothers, staff and BAME colleagues during the Covid-19 pandemic. In her Q&A with Nursing in Practice, she writes: ‘My greatest learning has been the diversity of the roles of nurses and midwives and how innovative we have been during the pandemic to continue to provide services that are patient/client focussed.’

28 January – Nursing Stars Q&A: Nicola Mckenzie

Advanced nurse practitioner Nicola Mckenzie explain how she and her team have fought through an emotionally challenging time supporting care homes – and ended up closer as a team than ever. In her Q&A with Nursing in Practice, she writes: ‘We have worked tirelessly throughout covid. Working weekends, starting early and finishing late. Worrying about what we might bring home to our families. However, we have made it through much like other teams have.’

21 January – The Countess of Wessex thanks nurses

The Countess of Wessex sings her praaises as she joined a practice nurse and healthcare assistant conference.

13 January – Jo Churchill champions community health teams in the Commons

Jo Churchill, minister for public health and primary care, thanks community health teams who ‘very often don’t get the thanks, but are the glue that sticks all these different parts of the system together’.

6 January – Nursing Stars Q&A: Naomi Berry

Newly qualified practice nurses Naomi Berry, based in Bradford, describes how she has adapted to both a new role and a pandemic in one year. In her Q&A with Nursing in Practice, she writes: ‘As a newly qualified working during a pandemic, it has been one of the hardest things I will ever have to do as it’s not something you are trained to be able to handle!’

10 DecemberNursing Stars Q&A: Sarah Noble

Sarah Noble, head of midwifery at South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust, describes how she and her team have continued to support mothers to birth their babies. In her Q&A for Nursing in Practice, she writes: ‘I am inspired each and every day by the kindness and determination of my maternity colleagues and the power of a birthing woman.’

3 December – Community team performs alternative version to George Ezra’s ‘Shotgun’

A fun reminder of the hard work community nursing staff are carrying out up and down the country.

23 November – 10k campaign raises £40k for colleagues

Cavell Nurses’ Trust, a charity supporting nursing and midwifery staff, has raised more than £40,000 to help colleagues facing crisis this winter. The money was raised through the charity’s 10k For Nurses and Midwives campaign which ran throughout October and encouraged fundraisers, many of them nursing and midwifery staff, to take on their own 10k challenges, including running 10k, walking 10,000 steps or cycling 10k.

18 November – Nursing Stars features Cazz Broxton, advanced nurse practitioner and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) transition lead

Cazz Broxton tells us about her role working with young people requiring mental health assessment and treatment. She also offers training to staff around supporting young adults. She says of working during Covid-19: ‘I have valued the opportunity to adapt, update and challenge previous practice and modalities, which can be more flexible than seen before.’

Read her profile here.

9 November – Specialist nurses working in the community featured on ITV News

An insight into the amazing work of community nurses in Hampshire was featured on ITV News.

29 October – Flu vaccines for the homeless

Nurses from the Health Inclusion Team have been given vaccines across south London to homeless people.

27 October – Nursing groups urge PM to extend free school meals

Nursing groups have joined forces to ask the Government to extend free school meals in England during the holidays and help families facing ‘heart-breaking’ poverty.

27 September – Introducing the General Practice Nurse BME network

Julie Roye and Robana Hussein-Mills are the joint facilitators of the GPN BME network, which you can join and support here.

18 SeptemberNursing Stars: Laura Clifford

Laura Clifford, a community matron and Queen’s Nurse, tells us why she and her team are Nursing Stars. She said: ‘I’m one star in a constellation of stars. It’s through the hard work and determination of the teams that we’ve been able to achieve what we have, during what has been an immensely challenging time.’ Read more here.

17 September – WHO Europe extends Year of the Nurse and Midwife

The Year of the Nurse and Midwife has been extended into 2021 in Europe because of the Covid-19 pandemic, it has been announced. In a speech at WHO Europe on Monday, WHO regional director for Europe Dr Hans Kluge promised nurses and midwives that Covid-19 will be ‘pushed back’ and ‘we will celebrate you’. Read more here.

14 September – Health visitors are proving vital after lockdown

Picture of author Rachael Hearson.

Author and health visitor Rachael Hearson explains how health visitors have been among the first to see the damage done behind closed doors during lockdown in her new blog for Nursing in Practice. She wrote: ‘This is where we health visitors come in. How many of us were met with open arms, tears even, when we crossed the threshold in our weird masks or visors, gloves and aprons?’ Read more here.

14 September – Practice nurses prepare for flu season

Debbie Brown, a practice nurse, describes the amazing work taking place in her flu clinic – and in clinics all across the country – in the build up to flu season.

12 September – District nurse accepts British Empire Medal for services to nursing

Liz Alderton, a district nurse in north east London and Queen’s Nurse, has received the British Empire Medal for services to nursing.

18 AugustNursing Stars: Sara Petronijevich

Sara Petronijevich, practice nurse in West Sussex, tells us why she and her team are Nursing Stars. She said: ‘Everybody has been supportive of each other working while in a different way. We’ve had daily team meetings. It’s a tight team.’ Read more here.

13 August – National Care Forum praises care home after staff qualify as non-medical prescribers

The Royal Star & Garter care home was praised by the National Care Forum for investing in its staff after two staff members qualified as non-medical prescribers. Their qualifications will reduce the amount of time residents wait for medication, leading to improved care.

6 August – Nursing Stars Q&A: Emma Manuel

Emma Manuel, lead clinical college nurse at St John’s, University of Cambridge, tells us why she and her team are Nursing Stars. She said: ‘Things are by no means straightforward and there is much work to be done, but I am immensely proud to be a nurse and working with truly amazing people, in my own college and the college nurse network. I know we are all in this together.’ Read more here.

24 July – A special visit from the Prince of Wales

The Prince of Wales thanked NHS general practice and primary care staff for their heroic efforts during the Covid-19 crisis, during a visit to St Austell Healthcare. Speaking to staff at St Austell Healthcare, he said: ‘What we are witnessing is a whole community working together to help each other, it’s a shining example of what is possible and what we should continue to strive to do.’

17 July – SAPHNA launches bespoke training for school health teams

The School and Public Health Nurses Association (SAPHNA) have launched bespoke training for school health teams as children return to school. This includes e-learning modules such as on emotionally based school avoidance, bereavement and whole school health and well-being. Live webinars will also provide a platform for parent/carer discussion, to support children, young people and families through what will be difficult times ahead for many. Register for a place before 20 July.

16 July – Q&A: Health visitor Rachael Hearson on her confessional memoir

We chat with health visitor Rachael Hearson about why health visiting is misunderstood, the impact of Covid-19 and her new book, Handle With Care: Confessions of an NHS Health Visitor. Read more here.

13 July – Nursing Stars Q&A: Anthony Johnson

Anthony Johnson, a health visitor and lead organiser of campaigning group Nurses United, tells us why he is a Covid-19 Nursing Star. He said: ‘We’re still in a situation where lots of us feel really undervalued and in a precarious predicament. Despite that, nurses still stepped up and met the challenge. We’re a caring profession because we care.’ Read more here.

7 July – Man celebrates his community nurses with ‘hero’ medals

Bill Wheatley, aged 87, has given 12 community nurses a ‘hero’ award as a thank you for putting themselves on the frontline during the Covid-19 pandemic.

6 July – The last clap for carers

The prime minister joined a nationwide applause to pay tribute to NHS staff on the 72nd anniversary of the health service, in what is hoped to become an annual tradition. The round of clapping was inspired by the weekly Clap for Carers initiative to thank key workers during the height of the Covid-19 crisis.

3 July – Nursing Stars Q&A: Cath Pierce

Cath Pierce, an ANP in primary care, tells us why she is a Covid-19 Nursing Star. She said: ‘To me, all nurses are stars. No matter what is thrown at us, we pull together with our healthcare colleagues to adapt and survive.’ Read more here.

2 July – Nurses have been a shining light in the darkness of a deadly pandemic

Helen Lewis explains how nurses have been a shining light in the darkness of a deadly pandemic in her new blog for Nursing in Practice. She wrote: ‘Nursing has become a glowing light in what has been some very dark days. Only time will tell whether that dedication, skill and knowledge will be rewarded with fairer remuneration in time.’ Read more here.

1 July – District nurse features in Rankin portrait

Anne Roberts, a district nurse based in Stoke-on-Trent, will be one of the NHS workers photographed by renowned photographer Rankin. The series will be showcased at local bus stops, roadside billboards as well as iconic pedestrian areas including the world-famous Piccadilly Lights in central London this week to mark the 72nd anniversary of the NHS. Read more here. 

26 June – Nursing Stars Q&A: Sarah O’Donnell

Sarah O’Donnell, a lead general practice nurse and the lead for the General Practice Nurse Student Nurse Network, tells us why she is a Covid-19 Nursing Star. She said: ‘Primary care networks are also making more use of each other by having hubs and sharing clinicians. This is, I think, always a good thing as bringing ideas together helps people in their own clinics.’ Read more here.

21 June – GPN SNN highlights Deafblind Awareness Week 

The General Practice Nurse Student Nurse Network (GPN SNN) has created this amazing video to raise awareness for Deafblind Awareness Week, which began on the 21 June.

18 June – BLOG: Why we are supporting Nursing Stars – the New NHS Alliance

The New NHS Alliance partnered with Nursing in Practice on the last campaign to highlight the important work of nurses. Here the organisation’s chief executive Merron Simpson and chair Dr Brian Fisher write why they are working with us again. Read more here.

17 June – Nursing Stars Q&A: Louise Brady

Louise Brady, the clinical practice and development manager at The Royal British Legion, tells us why she is a Covid-19 Nursing Star. She said: ‘ Being a Covid-19 Nursing Star requires great strength in swift decision making, with the skillset to be able to be flexible and adaptable to the changing crisis.’ Read more here.

8 June – District nurse volunteers to work in nursing home 

District Nursing Sister Maria volunteered to work in a nursing home during the Covid-19 outbreak

2 June – BLOG: School nurses will prove pivotal as children return to the classroom

Sharon White, chief executive of the School and Public Health Nurses Association explains why school nurses will have a key role in helping children and families as students return to the classroom. In her blog for Nursing in Practice, she wrote: ‘Of course, many schools have remained open throughout the lockdown period and with the support of their school nursing service, have already put into place numerous strategies that have and will continue to assist in the safest return to school as possible for students.’ Read more here.

1 June – Nursing Stars Q&A: Claire Carmichael

Claire Carmichael, a practice nurse based in Hampshire, tells us why she is a Covid-19 Nursing Star. She said: ‘I have had a lot of Covid compassion during this time and have been making welfare calls to patients to ensure they are okay during this tough time. However, I couldn’t have done this without the help of the amazing team around me. Management and the CGGs in Hampshire have been excellent!’ Read more here.

31 May – Community nursing is cast away on Desert Island Discs

Professor Dame Elizabeth Nneka Anionwu, Emeritus Professor of Nursing at University of West London, sang the praises of nursing and health visiting in the community during her appearance on Desert Island Discs. She was the first sickle cell specialist nurse in the UK. Dame Elizabeth, who has also worked as a health visitor, said on the role: ‘You have to earn the respect to get into people’s homes. You’re not in your own territory.’ Listen here.

30 May – Dorset health visitor Rachael Hearson appears on Woman’s Hour

Rachael Hearson, who is working as a health visitor in Dorset, has written a book on her experiences as a nurse called Handle With Care. On the BBC’s Woman’s Hour, she explains how the health visiting role has changed and why it’s needed now more than ever. She said: ‘[Health visitors] are there to try and build resilience into families and add resources and identify where families need additional needs, and try to make those referrals that are appropriate.’ Listen here.

28 May – A district nurse on the challenges of rural nursing during the pandemic

Nicola Tatt, a district nurse in Nottinghamshire, talks about the difficulties and rewards of caring for a rural population during the Covid-19 pandemic. In her video blog, she said: ‘We see many patients in those areas who otherwise would not be able to access services… [During the pandemic], one of the positive things that has come out of it is being able to work with a virtual platform.’ Learn more in the tweet below.

22 May – BLOG: Covid-19 has not stopped our revolutionary care home ward rounds

Cath Pierce, an ANP based at a practice in Stockport, works at a forward-thinking CCG that provides nurses-led ward rounds in residential and nursing homes. But since the Covid-19, they have had to adapt. In her blog for Nursing in Practice, Ms Pierce wrote: ‘I had previously used FaceTime to keep in touch with family and friends, but had never assessed a patient by video link. This sent me into a spin. How was I going to assess without undertaking a physical examination? How could I assess an individual’s condition without touching or feeling?‘ Read more here.

14 May – North East community nursing teams pulling out all the stops

Community nursing teams at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have come up with new ways to work during the Covid-19 including telephone consultations, showing patients how to do basic dressing changes and training up family members to provide basic diabetes and wound care. Sarah Mallett, clinical lead for East Cleveland community nursing, said: ‘The staff have been absolutely fantastic; they have really stepped up to the mark.’ Read more here.

12 May – Inspired midwife comes out of retirement during Covid-19

Retired NHS midwife Sarah volunteered in Bangladesh with UK Aid. Inspired by the courageous midwives she met in Bangladesh, she faced her fears and came out of retirement to help tackle the coronavirus pandemic. She said: ‘It inspired me to strive to show the same courage.’ Learn more in the tweet below.

11 May – District nurse sets record straight after misleading ITV News report

District nurses Jo Paterson showed the world how much district nurses have to contribute when she appeard on ITV News. The programme followed uproar over an original ‘misleading’ report that suggested district nurses were often unable to see patients during the coronavirus crisis. Ms Paterson said: ‘I don’t think any of us nurses do this job for recognition from the public. I think we do this for our job satisfaction and our patients.’ Read more here.

7 May – BLOG: Practice nursing in the alien world of Covid-19

Katherine Parker, a practice nurse based in Stockport, describes how practice nursing has kept up with a rapidly changing situation in her blog for Nursing in Practice. She wrote: ‘I applaud myself and each and every GPN colleague. In the last three months, we have transformed general practice. Much of what we are doing now I feel will be embedded and kept for post-pandemic times.’ Read more here.

22 April – BLOG: Nursing associates can help primary care during coronavirus – and beyond

Alicia Langdown, a nursing associate at a practice in Dorset, argues the case for nursing associates’ critical role in tackling coronavirus within primary care. In her blog for Nursing in Practice, she wrote: ‘I feel that my trainee nursing associate placements in secondary care have helped me to have a better understanding of infection control and different types of PPE. It has also provided some preparation for potentially seeing unwell patients in primary care, which we do not usually do on a regular basis.’ Read more here.

2 April – The children of Mersey Care’s nurses talk about their parents’ jobs

In a powerful short film, the children of healthcare workers at Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust explain what their mums and dads do to help others. It was launched 15 minutes before the first Clap for Carer’s event, where people throughout the country are encouraged to clap for carers working during the pandemic. Trish Bennett, Mersey Care’s executive director of nursing, said: ‘Along with their colleagues in other clinical and support roles our nurses are at the frontline of the fight against Covid-19. Every single nurse, no matter what discipline, makes such a difference to their patients.’ Watch the film here.

18 March – BLOG: School nurses are donning their superhero capes to deal with the coronavirus crisis

Sharon White, chief executive of the School and Public Health Nurses Association, describes how school nurses are always ready and willing to don their superhero capes and do whatever it takes in the war against cororonavirus. In her blog for Nursing in Practice, from the beginning of lockdown, she wrote: ‘I think we’d struggle to find another workforce so willing, able, adaptable and amenable to step up as demonstrated in previous public health outbreaks of measles, meningitis and flu.’ Read more here.