Doncaster nurse wins prestigious award just months after qualifying

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A talented Doncaster-born children’s nurse is already setting the bar high in her profession, just months after qualifying.

Abbie Elden, aged 23, has received the prestigious ‘Heath Award’ for excellence in nursing studies and practice, on the same day as she graduated from Northumbria University, Newcastle with a first class honours degree in children’s nursing.

She is one of only six nurses in the country to receive the prestigious honour for nursing talent.

The Heath Award was established in 1892 by George Yeoman Heath, former President of the Royal College of Medicine. It is presented each year to the best nurses and midwives graduating from Northumbria University’s nursing and midwifery programmes.

Abbie, who qualified as a nurse in March, has stayed in Newcastle to work in the Special Care Baby Unit at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI).

She says she was inspired to go into nursing after her mum spent almost a year in hospital with a brain injury when Abbie was a teenager. During that time, she spent a lot of time with her mum, experiencing first-hand the difference that nurses make to the lives of patients and their families.

Abbie said: “I love being a neonatal nurse. I work in a really unique place and it’s such a privilege to be part of the babies’, and their families’, journeys while they’re with us. I work with an amazing team and everyone is so supportive.

“I couldn’t believe it when I was told I’d won a Heath Award, it’s such an honour. Everyone on my course was brilliant, so it’s amazing to be singled out.

“I chose Northumbria University because it had an excellent reputation for nursing. The support on the course couldn’t have been better, and the lecturers are all experienced nurses, so you’re learning from real experts. The work placements are fantastic too, you get to experience such a broad range of scenarios and see and do things you’d never expect.”

Those studying nursing and midwifery degrees at Northumbria University split their time between academic study and placements in hospitals and community settings, where put their new-found skills into practice. Abbie was nominated for the Heath Award by academics from her course as well as hospital staff who worked alongside her on placement.

Abbie expects to stay in Newcastle for the foreseeable future and plans to continue to specialise in neonatal care.

She was presented with her award – a medal and certificate - at a special ceremony by Dame Jackie Daniel, Chief Executive of the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Dame Jackie Daniel said “I started my career in the NHS as a nurse and I know what a hugely challenging but incredibly rewarding profession it is, so it is a real pleasure for me to present these awards to such outstanding newly qualified nurses. It is particularly appropriate to present the awards on the 70th anniversary of the NHS. Nursing has changed massively in that time and I am sure that the award winners have bright futures ahead of them as the roles of nurses continue to grow and develop.”

Helen Lamont, Chair of the Heath Trust and former Nursing and Patient Services Director at the Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “Nursing and midwifery are such critical roles, and the quality of care makes all the difference to the patient experience. These awards were bequeathed by a former surgeon at ‘The Infirmary’, now the Royal Victoria Infirmary, to celebrate excellence in the practice and theory of nursing and midwifery.

“It’s a privilege to be involved with the Heath Committee, and to see, first hand, the excellent new generation of nurses and midwives that are graduating from Northumbria University, in partnership with our local hospitals. These students are selected not only for their excellent academic and clinical performance, but also for the behaviours and qualities they have displayed throughout their education and training. These winners have set exceptional standards within their profession already, and are very worthy recipients of the Heath Award.”

Professor Alison Machin, Head of Nursing, Midwifery and Health at Northumbria University, Newcastle, said: “The standard of nominations for the awards has, yet again, been exceptionally high. Northumbria University is the principal provider of nurse education in the North East of England, and we are privileged to have such hard working, compassionate and high achieving students who develop into high quality, skilled professionals. It is a real honour to teach and work with them, and it’s wonderful to be able to recognise their efforts in this way.”

For more information on nursing, midwifery and health courses at Northumbria University, visit www.northumbria.ac.uk/nursing