GNOSALL nurse Helene Donnelly has been awarded an OBE in recognition of her work to support NHS staff to raise concerns and improve care for patients.
Ms Donnelly is the Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Partnership NHS Trust's first ambassador for cultural change and works to encourage greater professionalism.
Her work also involves supporting staff to raise concerns and ensures the voice of frontline staff is heard at a senior level within the organisation.
The former Stafford Hospital A&E nurse was a key witness at the Public Inquiry into Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust chaired by Robert Francis QC following her difficulties trying to raise concerns.
She said: "My first reaction was disbelief really. I thought why me. I suppose I don't feel I've really done anything that remarkable.
"I'm absolutely delighted and really this honour is a recognition for everyone who is trying to genuinely raise concerns and build a more open and honest culture within the health service."
She added: "I really thank my chief executive Stuart Poynor and our trust board who genuinely support me in my role as ambassador for cultural change. Without their backing no one would have listened to me but now, both in our trust and nationally, we are together ensuring that listening to and acting on the concerns of NHS staff is being taken more seriously."
As ambassador for cultural change Helene has a clear remit to act freely, and with complete autonomy from the management team as another route for issues of concern to be raised at the highest level.
"Being recognised in this way is a great honour and an achievement for everyone trying to further positive change. There is still much more to do however. We want to make sure that all NHS staff are better supported to raise concerns, are really listened to and are clear about what action has been taken and why."
Helene will receive her OBE at a royal ceremony in the coming months.
Mr Poynor said, "We are extremely proud of Helene and her commitment to making sure the voice of our staff is better heard when raising concerns. She is not afraid to challenge and has taken many brave steps which are clearly recognised by this honour today.
"I find her genuine compassion and drive to help ensure the NHS develops a more honest and open culture very inspiring. It is a pleasure to work alongside such a committed colleague and on behalf of everyone at the partnership trust we offer her our very warm and well deserved congratulations."