Wearside nurse is rewarded for her talents

Published: 17th July 2018

A newly-qualified Sunderland nurse has received a prestigious award for setting high standards in her profession, just months into her job.

Sophie Bell, 23, a urology nurse at Sunderland Royal Hospital, has just received the special Heath Award in recognition of the commitment she’s shown to nursing.

The Heath Award is presented each year to the best nurses and midwives to graduate from Northumbria University, Newcastle. The award was established in 1892 by George Yeoman Heath, former President of the Royal College of Medicine

Sophie, who achieved First Class Honours in her nursing degree programme when she graduated in 2017, was nominated by Northumbria academics and hospital staff she’s worked alongside during her studies and work placements.

Although she’s just newly-qualified, she’s no stranger to the wards on Wearside, having completed a pre-nursing year with Northumbria University and City Hospitals Sunderland before starting her degree.

During her degree studies, Sophie also undertook a placement on the Urology ward at Sunderland Royal Hospital which inspired her to work in that area when she qualified.

She said: “I’ve always been interested in working in healthcare but wasn't sure exactly what I wanted to do at first, which is why I did the pre-nursing course. I love helping people, so my best moments are when patients tell me how much of a difference I’ve made to their treatment or recovery.

“The job is sometimes challenging, especially in the middle of winter pressures, but there’s always great support.I find nursing so rewarding and love going into work every day knowing that I’ll be doing something different and helping different people.”

She added: “When I found out I’d won this award I was shocked because I didn’t think I’d done anything out of the ordinary during my training. I just tried to help as many people as I could, along the way.”

Sophie received her award at a special ceremony at the historic Peacock Hall, part of Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary.

Professor Alison Machin, Head of Nursing, Midwifery and Health at Northumbria University, 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.”

Sunderland Royal Hospital is part of City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust.

Melanie Johnson, Executive Director of Nursing at City Hospitals Sunderland and South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trusts, said: “There is no doubt that the knowledge and practical experience gained during pre-nursing and work placements can make a huge difference in helping students nurses to develop excellent practice before they qualify. Our nursing team support each other to ensure that we continue to meet the exceptionally high standards that we have become renowned for and Sophie should be very proud of this achievement. We are certainly proud to have her as part of our nursing team.”

Helen Lamont, Chair of the Heath 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.”

The other five 2018 Heath Awards winners are: Cardiology nurse Emma Alderson from Washington, Tyne and Wear who works at Newcastle’s RVI; former solicitor Peter Busby from Durham, who’s now a paediatric intensive care nurse at the Great North Children’s Hospital; Rachel Culyer from Killingworth who works as a nurse in the RVI’s Critical Care Unit; neonatal nurse Abbie Elden, originally from Doncaster, who works in the Special Care Baby Unit at the RVI; and Sherilee Gray who lives in Blyth and is a community learning disabilities nurse in Newcastle.

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