Two of the Northern Care Alliance (NCA) NHS Group’s nurses have been honoured in the New Year’s Honours list 2021 to recognise their tremendous role throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both Wendy Clapham and Cath Fitzsimmons have been awarded the British Empire Medal.
Wendy, Assistant Director of Nursing Services for Critical Care, Outpatients and Pre-Operative Assessment at the Royal Oldham Hospital, has been awarded the Medal for her services to nursing, particularly during the COVID-19 response. She has worked as a nurse in the NHS for 30 years, including working clinically in critical care, service management in anaesthetics and critical care, within clinical governance and other specialist nursing roles.
She currently manages the nursing team in the Intensive Care Unit at the Royal Oldham Hospital and has received the award for the wonderful contribution she has made to critical care services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Wendy’s work has been at the forefront of the hospital’s response to the pandemic, during which she has played a pivotal role in ensuring that patients and their families have received the care, treatment, support and communication they need during one of the most difficult times of their lives.
She said: “I feel very proud and honoured to be awarded a British Empire Medal during one of the toughest periods of my nursing career. This year has been like no other. Leading the Intensive Care Unit team and the staff who came to support us has been a privilege. I have seen some exceptional work by the nursing teams in circumstances nobody would have wished for and been blown away by the bravery and dedication of colleagues in the face of sustained challenge. I share this award with each and every one of them.”
A nurse with over 40 years’ service in the NHS with roles including Macmillan Nurse Consultant in Breast Services and Macmillan Lead Cancer Nurse, Cath was the first nurse to come back out of retirement to return to the wards of Salford Royal. She supported the Palliative Care and Bereavement Teams and has received her award for her wonderful contribution to these services during the pandemic. This role was part time as she continued in her post as Macmillan Partnership Quality Lead in the North West.
Cath said she was delighted to have received the Medal even though it was for the saddest of reasons. She said: “I felt that I couldn’t sit at home during the pandemic whilst my colleagues were preparing for the unknown, hence I volunteered to return as a retiree. Working with the Palliative Care Team enabled me to use my experience to support patients and families and carers in a very different environment to our norm and during the most distressing times for them.
“I felt very proud and honoured to be back nursing – it’s what I love doing. I am honoured to be awarded a British Empire Medal though I share this with each and every one of my extraordinary colleagues at the NCA for their tremendous efforts throughout this year.”
Cath is still working for the NCA part-time, supporting the Palliative Care and Bereavement Team at Fairfield General Hospital.
NCA Chief Executive Raj Jain said: “I am incredibly delighted for both Wendy and Cath who are both dedicated and long-standing members of the NCA family. They entirely deserve this accolade and I hope it brings them and their families tremendous pride. The year 2020 has been our toughest yet and my colleagues across the NCA never fail to amaze me with their unwavering hard work, care, compassion and sheer determination to, despite the challenges, provide our patients and service users with the best care and treatment possible. Cath and Wendy are two fantastic representatives of our wonderful workforce – congratulations to them both.”