New Year Honours for Lancaster and Morecambe residents

David Taylor.David Taylor.
David Taylor.
An NHS boss who helped to turn around the fortunes of Morecambe Bay hospitals trust is among four people from across the district to have been honoured in the Queen's New Year Honours list.

An NHS boss who helped to turn around the fortunes of Morecambe Bay hospitals trust is among four people from across the district to have been honoured in the Queen’s New Year Honours list.

Sue Smith from Morecambe, executive chief nurse and deputy chief executive at the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, has been awarded the OBE for services to the NHS and to patient safety.

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Helen Bingley of Caton was also given the OBE for her voluntary service in the UK and abroad.

Sue Smith. Photo: Smith. Photo:
Sue Smith. Photo:

Meanwhile, an MBE has been awarded to John Blowes of Halton, for services to renewable energy and to the community in Lancaster, and British Red Cross volunteer David Taylor of Holme has been awarded the British Empire Medal

At UHMBT, Sue Smith is a key member of a team that has overseen the trust’s dramatic improvement from a Care Quality Commission (CQC) rating of inadequate to good.

Sue is also a founder and director of Transform Healthcare Cambodia, which takes 40-50 UK healthcare workers to Cambodia each year to provide healthcare education, training and clinical support to local staff.

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She is also a non-executive director of St John’s Hospice and co-chairs the National NHS Providers Medical Directors and Nursing Directors Forum.

Helen Bingley CEO and Nicola Lowe Co Chair on a recent visit to Buckingham Palace.Helen Bingley CEO and Nicola Lowe Co Chair on a recent visit to Buckingham Palace.
Helen Bingley CEO and Nicola Lowe Co Chair on a recent visit to Buckingham Palace.

Sue said: “I am delighted and overwhelmed to receive this honour. However, nobody in the NHS can deliver anything in isolation. It is absolutely dependent on people listening to and working with each other in order to get things right. I would not be in the positon to receive this honour if it was not for the amazing people that I work with. That is also true of the other organisations I work with. It is always all about the team.”

Sue was born in Morecambe and educated at Lancaster Girls’ Grammar school. She started her nursing career at Lancaster Hospital in January 1990. After periods as a sister and a recruitment and retention manager, Sue joined University Hospitals of Coventry and Warwickshire as deputy director of nursing.

In this role she was responsible for moving three hospitals into one site, and supported her director of nursing in developing the national nursing acuity tool called Safer Nursing Care – a measure of staffing need – which is in use in all hospitals now.

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Sue’s next job was as a deputy director at Nottingham where her key emphasis was on patient safety and infection control. At this time, she also worked with the Department of Health’s National Infection Prevention Team and managed to turn around the performance of patient safety outcomes at the trust.

John Blowes.John Blowes.
John Blowes.

In 2008, Sue was appointed executive chief nurse at North Tees and Hartlepool, the first hospital to integrate with community services, where she was also director of governance and the director of infection control.

With Sue’s support, her team reduced mortality and harms and became a national exemplar. While in this role, she also introduced the modern apprentice programme.

Sue returned to UHMBT in 2013 at the height of its difficulties, to what she describes as her dream job.

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Sue said: “I really wanted to come and see if I could help support the staff and turn the reputation around. It was very tough.

“However, we have gone from a CQC rating of inadequate to good in that period. Our culture has totally changed, but the most important thing is the openness and honesty and our ability to learn from getting things wrong, through listening to service users and staff.”

Sue puts her success in her profession down to her ability to bring teams together and her focus on improving patient safety.

She said: “I think I am good at developing teams and people. The second thing I have done – and I have done it in all my organisations – is to improve patient safety.

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“I have done it by helping people to be open and honest and to learn and understand how they can move forward – so it is not about blaming folk; it is about really looking at things objectively.

“I brought in to UHMBT the same thing I did in North Tees, a patient safety summit, which is a weekly summit where we discuss our errors and mistakes and look at how we can stop them from happening again.

“I think that has enabled us to understand that we can make some fairly simple changes to what we do in order to make it safer. We are now one of the safest trusts. Mortality has been consistently lower than average here for years now.”

Aaron Cummins, chief executive at UHMBT, said: “I am delighted that Sue has been awarded the OBE and we are incredibly proud of her.

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“It is very well deserved. Sue is very modest about her achievements and always emphasises the importance of her team in her success.

“However, the fact is that Sue has a track record of delivering and enabling transformative changes – and these changes have brought real benefits to both patients and staff.”

Helen Bingley is CEO of the Caton-based Abaseen Foundation, which provides education, health, research and humanitarian relief to some of the poorest people in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in north west Pakistan.

The Abaseen Foundation educates children, mostly girls, sponsored by people in the north west of England through the ‘sponsor a child to go to school’ scheme. Literacy rates for girls in this area are lower than three per cent.

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The foundation was awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service – an MBE for voluntary groups – in 2017.

John Blowes is director of Halton Lune Hydro, and is a chartered Engineer with electrical, civil and electrical project management experience, working in particular on renewable and fossil fuel based power stations, in the UK and overseas.

John has sat on various committees associated with energy efficiency and the regulation of carbon emissions. He is a past president and director general of the Institution of Diesel and Gas Turbine Engineers.

British Red Cross volunteer David Taylor’s last emergency flood response was to Galgate in November 2017, and he also helped out during Storm Desmond in December 2015.

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The 57-year-old lives in Holme near Carnforth with his wife Ruth and is director of his own learning and development company, Consilius Ltd.

The father-of-two joined the British Red Cross as a volunteer in 1993.

He said: “I’m privileged, humbled and delighted to receive this award for 25 years of voluntary service with the British Red Cross for emergency response, first aid and fundraising.

“Up and down the country, thousands of British Red Cross volunteers do an amazing job every day demonstrating what we call the Power of Kindness.

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“I’m proud to be part of the British Red Cross which helps millions of people in the UK and around the world to prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies, disasters and conflicts, recognising that every crisis is personal.

“Everything that we do in the British Red Cross is a team effort and I’d like to say a huge thank you to my remarkable and talented colleagues, both staff and volunteers, past and present – we’ve been through a lot together and I’m sure we will in the future and it is on their behalf that I accept this award.

“I’d also like to recognise the important role that volunteers’ ‘other halves’ play; it’s only because of their support and understanding, that we can do what we do, often involving weekends and unsociable hours and so I’d like to dedicate this award to my wife Ruth.”

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