Nurse wins historic award for outstanding contribution

A “courageous and conscientious” nurse who returned to a previous role to help a challenged department has won a historic award.

Michelle Bonney-Wheate (left) being presented with her Nell Phoenix Award certificate by Cath Wilson, deputy director of nursing at the trust
Michelle Bonney-Wheate (left) being presented with her Nell Phoenix Award certificate by Cath Wilson, deputy director of nursing at the trust

Michelle Bonney-Wheate has won the Nell Phoenix Fund Award for outstanding contribution to nursing care and patient experience at The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust.

Michelle, who has been an infection prevention (IP) nurse for nearly four years, accepted an approach to return to work in the Snowdrop Chemotherapy Unit at New Cross Hospital to help staff challenges and address delays in patients receiving chemotherapy.

On receiving her award, Michelle said: “I feel surprised but truly honoured and proud. I am glad to make a difference and it is really rewarding to feel you’re making a difference in an ever-rewarding job.

“One thing that makes me sentimental is my great gran – who wanted to be a nurse – passed away when I was doing my nurse training and now would be so proud of my achievements.”

Michelle, who was presented with a certificate, a badge and a £25 gift voucher for her efforts, admitted she had some misgivings about returning to chemotherapy after nearly four years away from the specialty, but soon settled back in.

She said: “I had some initial anxiety going back. I had to update and refresh my knowledge on chemotherapy drugs, treatment regimes and complete an assessment.

“But I was only happy to support the service to ensure treatments were delivered in a timely manner to provide the best outcomes for patients. “

Michelle’s matron Lisa Hall, who nominated her for the award, said: “Michelle was adaptable and courageous and rose to the challenge going back to work in a high-pressured environment, which can be emotional due to the life-limiting conditions the patients are being treated for.

“She went from working 9am-5pm in the IP team to working a shift pattern, which included long days on a challenged unit with daily patient attendance list often running over capacity.”

Lisa added: “I am proud to work with such a courageous, supportive adaptable nurse who is a true professional and stepped up to go to the extra mile to support a service for the benefit of her colleagues and patients.”

Sister Sarah Maguire, lead nurse for oncology/haematology day case services, said: “Michelle absolutely deserves the award; she came back to us without complaining and was conscientious throughout her time with us. Thank you.”

Michelle added: “I only did my job and what was expected of me. I couldn’t have done it without the support of the team and department. I work with so many hardworking nurses and teams within the organisation.

“I am so pleased to work with these great people and teams every day. Everyone deserves recognition.”

With a background of mainly haematology, oncology, chemotherapy and palliative care, Michelle, who qualified at RWT in 2005, returned to the trust in 2015 after stints at Compton Care (then Compton Hospice) and intensive care at another trust.

Nell Phoenix was a patient who received excellent care at the old Royal Hospital in Wolverhampton several decades ago and generously left a sum of money in her will to set up a fund for the nurses of Wolverhampton to enjoy the arts.

Introduced in 2016 by then chief nurse Cheryl Etches, staff can be nominated for the award each month but it is awarded on a quarterly basis, at the discretion of Professor Ann-Marie Cannaby, chief nurse.

Since its inception, the fund’s criteria has since been extended to include non-registered nurses and midwives.

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