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England’s CNO Dame Ruth May receives honorary doctorate

England’s CNO Dame Ruth May receives honorary doctorate

The chief nursing officer (CNO) for England has been awarded an honorary doctorate from Birmingham City University (BCU) in recognition of her impact on the profession.

Dame Ruth May said she had ‘never been prouder to be a nurse’ as she received the award as part of the university’s summer graduation celebration held on July 26 at the Symphony Hall in Birmingham.

She added that she was accepting the honour ‘on behalf of the nursing and midwifery professions who use their knowledge, expertise and experience to care for us throughout every stage of our lives’.

Although she has no direct links to the university, a BCU spokesperson said it had chosen to celebrate the impact the CNO has had on nursing, midwifery and the healthcare profession.

They added that ‘as one of the biggest trainers of nurses, midwives and healthcare professionals in the UK’, its school of nursing and midwifery has ‘felt Dame Ruth’s impact and leadership keenly’.

Speaking on the day of the award, BCU deputy vice chancellor Peter Francis, said: ‘Although Covid-19 dominated her initial years as chief nursing officer, she has always kept longer-term objectives in view.

‘To the nurses, the midwives and the carers of the future, she offers a guiding hand, a wealth of experience and an outstanding example of what it means to lead with compassion, strategy and a determination to serve the great cause that has informed her professional life.’

Dame Ruth has undertaken a variety of nursing roles since beginning her career in the health service in 1985.

She has served as chief executive of both the Queen’s Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn and the Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust and became executive director of nursing at NHS Improvement in 2016.

Since becoming chief nursing officer in 2019, Dame Ruth has received a DBE in 2022 as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Honours for her services to nursing, midwifery and the NHS.

During the ceremony Dame Ruth added: ‘Nursing has given me an incredible career, throughout which my passion for nursing has continued to grow.

‘Working with brilliant, dedicated, skilled, and compassionate colleagues fuel this passion as I see them achieve remarkable things and make a difference to people’s lives every day.

‘While I have always known how remarkable our health and care professions are, the pandemic has shone an even brighter light on their extraordinary work.

‘Their expertise, professionalism and tireless work continues to be truly remarkable. I am incredibly proud and inspired by our professions and the fantastic work all our NHS people do every day.’

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