Rheumatology Nurse wins national charity 'Patient Choice' Award

Michelle Rutherford, Clinical Nurse Specialist in the Rheumatology Department at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital, has won ‘Best Care provided by a Rheumatology Nurse’ in the Patients’ Choice Awards from the National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society (NASS).

The awards were voted for online by patients who nominated health care professionals who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to help people with ankylosing spondylitis (AS).

Patients felt Michelle went out of her way to provide excellent care to her AS patients with comments including:

“Michelle has been my nurse for 5 years and always goes the extra mile to ensure all her patients are well looked after. She always has a smile on her face and has always returned my phone calls. She is indispensable.....it is no exaggeration to say she has helped change my life.”

“A very caring and attentive specialist nurse. Always available, always helpful.”

And it’s not just her patients who believe Michelle goes that extra mile. Her colleagues feel the same way too.

Dr Lesley Kay, a Consultant Rheumatology specialising in AS who works closely with Michelle says: “I wasn’t at all surprised to find that patients had nominated Michelle for this award, or that the judges had chosen her. Michelle provides a superb, thorough, caring and reliable service for our patients with Ankylosing Spondylitis and Psoriatic Arthritis.

“Nothing is too much trouble for her and I am delighted that her patients and NASS appreciate her as much as her colleagues do”

Ruth Saunders, the Matron for Newcastle’s Musculoskeletal Services says: “This is a fantastic achievement and shows what wonderful care and dedication she is delivering on a daily basis to her patients. Michelle is a true inspiration to all and an advocate to her role as Rheumatology Nurse Specialist. She should be so proud of this award.”

Michelle herself was surprised but delighted when she heard she was to receive the award: “It’s great to know that our patients feel so well supported and have such lovely comments to make. I do feel that I couldn’t do what I do so well without the support of the whole team – this award is as much for my colleagues as it is for me.”

Debbie Cook, NASS Chief Executive adds: “At NASS we often hear about the wonderful work of rheumatology nurses in supporting people with AS. Michelle’s award is a fine example of a nurse going above and beyond to support her patients.”

Michelle will receive her award on 2 November at the Houses of Parliament where NASS will be launching the next round of their AS it is campaign Patient Voice & Patient Choice.

About AS

AS is a form of inflammatory arthritis which mainly affects the spine. It is a painful, progressive, long term condition which can have a major impact on the lives of those who have it and those around them. There is no cure for AS, instead anti inflammatory medication combined with regular physiotherapy and exercise are the cornerstones of treatment. Around 200,000 people in the UK have AS, with symptoms tending to first appear during late teens or early twenties. AS is a life-long condition.

The current average delay to diagnosis for AS in the UK is eight and a half years; Patient Voice & Patient Choice is a parliamentary campaign to raise awareness of the condition but also to ask MPs to pledge to help to reduce this delay by working with their local NHS Trusts.

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