A FORMER Stafford Hospital nurse who became a whistle-blower highlighting poor care has been appointed an OBE for her services to the NHS.
Helene Donnelly, from Gnosall, was given the honour in recognition of her work to support hospital staff to raise concerns and improve patient care.
Ms Donnelly is now Ambassador for Cultural Change at the Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Partnership Trust NHS, and has taken on a new role at the Department of Health to develop whistle-blowing training for all NHS staff.
She will work with Health Education England to introduce greater support for health and care staff to ensure they are fully aware of how to raise the alarm about concerns over patient safety, neglect and high death rates.
Ms Donnelly was a key witness during the Francis inquiry into reports of poor care and abuse at Stafford Hospital. During her time as an A&E nurse at Stafford, Ms Donnelly raised almost 100 complaints about patient treatment.
She was presented with her OBE from the Princess Royal at Buckingham Palace.
Ms Donnelly said she felt "hugely privileged" to receive an OBE.
"For me I really think this marks a turning point and I hope I will be the first of many others who come forward to speak out," she said.
"I know from experience how frightening and daunting a task it can feel to raise concerns in the workplace. There are many reasons why people feel that it is just easier to turn a blind eye and not raise your head above the parapet.”
But she added: “There has been much talk, but now is the time for action. We must truly empower and support all NHS staff to raise concerns, and part of this is about ensuring they know how to do so and what to do if their concerns are ignored.
“That’s why I’m delighted to be working on new mandatory training about whistleblowing, so that all staff will know what to do if they see care slip below the high standards we would all expect.”