Practice Nurse Sarah Rogers, who is the Strategic Lead for General Practice Nurses (GPN) at NHS Gloucestershire explains why receiving her Queen’s Nurse award was such a meaningful occasion.

I’ve already written about my journey to becoming a Queen’s Nurse which you can read here but at a time of year that can provide a mix of emotions for us all I thought it might be nice to read about what it means on a personal level, because on December 8, 2023 I went to London, received my award and met a Dame!

I have been in Primary Care for 22 years. Anyone who knows me will tell you I am absolutely passionate about General Practice Nursing. It is such a dynamic and diverse role, that has in my 22 years changed with the ever evolving landscape of Primary Care, giving nurses opportunities to continually expand their skill sets. In my view Practice Nurses are the absolute heartbeat of General Practice, working closely with GP’s, Allied Health Professionals and the wider Practice team providing routine check-ups, immunisations, chronic condition management, minor illness care, cancer screening and so much more.

To become a Queen’s Nurse is a rigorous process, for me this started back in May. On a personal level it was through encouragement from two people, one of whom was my mum, a retired practice nurse, who for years had been telling me to apply, the other was a dear friend, Jan. (Sadly Jan, passed away in August and never knew that I had been given the award.) On a professional level, several colleagues encouraged me so thank you to Marie, Sarah and Helen! Testimonials have to be written by line managers, colleagues and by myself about work undertaken in primary care.

So much of the work we carry out in Primary Care is within a team. Without that ‘team’ effort, innovation cannot happen, change doesn’t occur and patients don’t benefit. We all thrive by working as ‘one’ team , by actively listening to each other and understanding viewpoints, ambitions, concerns, because without this projects won’t thrive.

I have been so fortunate as a nurse to lead on and be part of lots of projects in Gloucestershire and see our population really benefit. So, whilst I have been awarded this fantastic award that is the Queen’s Award,  for my work in always striving for the best quality care and looking for innovative ways to improve patient care , I am humbled by all those who were ‘invisible’ by my side, who have helped me along the way.

My award was given to me by Dame Elizabeth Anionwu. An incredibly inspirational leader and nurse. She is the third woman EVER to receive the Order of Merit after Florence Nightingale and Dame Cecily Saunders (also a nurse, who founded the Hospice organisation).

Dame Elizabeth was brought up in care until the age of 9, but still had rather a tumultuous childhood until she left home to become a nurse at the age of 18. She established the first ‘nurse led UK sickle and thalassaemia screening and counselling centre. She continues in her work to shore up ‘gaps in services for black and minority ethnic patients and health professionals’, stating that whilst improvements have been made equality is still lacking. I was lucky enough after the event to briefly ‘chat’ with Dame Elizabeth, what did she say?

She liked the flower in my hair!