Nurses working in emergency care, infection prevention and control, public health, research and the military have been named among 1,500 individuals on the 2020 Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
“These honours highlight that nursing staff have shown incredible professionalism and dedication under the most enormous pressures”
The list, which was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, has paid special tribute to the work of health and care professionals in the response to the outbreak.
And in the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, nursing leaders said they were delighted with the number of nurses recognised.
Among those honoured include Royal College of Nursing president Professor Anne Marie Rafferty who has been awarded a damehood for services to nursing.
Professor Rafferty has been recognised in the list as a “world-leading” academic, clinician and leader in nursing.
Her achievements include becoming the first nurse to receive a doctorate from Oxford University and spearheading research which underpinned the nurse safe staffing legislation in Wales.
Senior nurse Elaine Inglesby-Burke has also been awarded a damehood for services to nursing just days after retiring from the NHS after more than 43 years.
Ms Inglesby-Burke stepped down from her role as group chief nursing officer at the Northern Care Alliance NHS Group, which brings together Salford Royal and Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS trusts, last week.
Others recognised include Michele Elliot, a nurse at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, who has received a Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), for services to nursing particularly during Covid-19.
Ms Elliot, who is a divisional director of nursing for emergency care and anaesthetics, was “instrumental” in work to ensure there were enough staff, equipment and critical care beds during the pandemic, her trust said.
During her career, Ms Elliot had also treated patients from the London Bridge terror attack in 2017 and was also on shift when the Grenfell Tower fire happened in the same year.
Felicia Kwaku, associate director of nursing at Kings College NHS Foundation Trust, has been awarded an Officers of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to nursing.
Ms Kwaku, chair of the Chief Nursing Officers Black and Minority Ethnic Strategic Advisory Group, supported nurses from a Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) background worried or scared during the pandemic by delivering webinars.
She had also helped Filipino nurses who were disproportionately affected by the virus and had spoken out over the need for appropriate risk assessments and personal protective equipment for the workforce.
Meanwhile, Sandra Payne, director of nursing and care homes at charity provider Brunelcare, was awarded an MBE for services to services to social care and for her response to the pandemic.
“The year hasn’t worked out as we planned, but we couldn’t be prouder of the contribution nursing and midwifery professionals have made”
Qualifying as a nurse in 1986, Ms Payne was described by the chief executive of Brunelcare as having dedicated her career to caring for others and said she had shown “real leadership” during Covid-19.
Dame Donna Kinnair, RCN chief executive and general secretary, said: “It is wonderful to see so many nursing staff recognised in this way. It should make all those involved in nursing feel immensely proud.
“These honours highlight that right across the UK since the start of the pandemic nursing staff have shown incredible professionalism and dedication under the most enormous pressures.”
With a record 13% of recipients on the list this year from a minority ethnic background, Dame Donna added: “It is poignant that so many BAME nurses have been honoured for their work speaking out and safeguarding their colleagues facing disproportionate risk from the Covid-19 virus.”
She also paid special congratulations to RCN president Professor Rafferty on her damehood and said it was “hard to think of a nurse more deserving of this honour”.
Dame Donna added: “From hospitals to care homes and across the community, I hope these honours provide a welcome boost to all those who have dedicated themselves to the care of others.”
Andrea Sutcliffe, chief executive and registrar at the Nursing and Midwifery Council, congratulated those who had received an honour.
She said: “2020 should have been a time of celebration as we marked the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife.
“The year hasn’t worked out as we planned, but we couldn’t be prouder of the contribution nursing and midwifery professionals have made at the heart of the response to Covid-19 – coping with unprecedented challenges and making such a difference to the lives of people living in communities across all four countries of the UK.
“It’s brilliant to see so many of them recognised for their work in this way.”
Also commenting on the awards, health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said he was “humbled by the dedication, ingenuity and passion shown by these NHS and social care staff and volunteers”.
“Throughout this terrible pandemic they have helped to save and improve the lives of patients, care home residents and their fellow NHS staff across the UK,” he said.
“Each and every one of those honoured today show the very best of us – and I thank them all, alongside the rest of our wonderful health and care staff, for their service.”