A nurse who goes “beyond the call of duty” to improve the health and wellbeing of her patients has been shortlisted for a top health award – thanks to a patient she helped.
Sister Ffion Pursglove from Bangor’s Ysbyty Gwynedd works tirelessly on behalf of her patients to ensure they are valued, listened to and given a voice, regularly working beyond her shift to tend to their needs.
Ffion, a development practitioner on the hospital’s Urology and Colorectal Tegid ward, has impressed her patients so much that one of them made the unusual move to nominate her for an award in recognition of her exceptional commitment and passion for her work.
The 29-year-old from Caernarfon is now up for two awards, at different events on the same night – one from Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB), plus she is also a finalist in the Mentorship category of the Royal College of Nursing Wales’ national awards, for her work with students.
Ffion was nominated by patient Christina Darbyshire-Jones, a social worker on Anglesey, for the Most Outstanding Contribution to Improving the Life of Patients Award in the BCUHB staff awards, on November 16.
Christina was admitted to Ysbyty Gwynedd in February this year following emergency surgery in Amsterdam for a series of benign but serious bowel tumours.
The 30-year-old suffers from a genetic bowel disorder called familial adenomatous polyposis – an inherited condition where numerous polyps form in the tissue of the large intestine, which can develop into cancer if left untreated.
She arrived at the North Wales hospital with a perforated bowel and septic shock, went on to develop a serious blood clot.
The qualified social worker, from Carmel near Penygroes in Gwynedd, spent the next four months recovering on the Tegid ward of the hospital.
Ffion, who has been working at Ysbyty Gwynedd since qualifying at Bangor University in 2009, said: “It’s an honour to be nominated for the award.
“It’s nice to be recognised, especially by a patient. I think I’m quite good at giving patients advice and will stand up for them to make sure their voice is heard. That’s reassuring for the patients.
“It’s about person-centred care. It’s a challenging but rewarding job. You can make a difference, even if it’s just a small difference. If it makes someone’s time in hospital a little bit better it’s worth it.”
Christina, who attended Ysgol Dyffryn Nantlle School in Gwynedd and now works for Anglesey County Council, was diagnosed with familial adenomatous polyposis two years ago and underwent an operation to remove her large bowel shortly afterwards.
She was on holiday in Amsterdam in February this year when she collapsed with excruciating pain. She was taken to hospital where doctors discovered three benign tumours and she was forced to undergo emergency surgery.
A week later Christina was transferred to Ysbyty Gwynedd to continue her recovery and where she required further emergency treatment for a perforated bowel and septic shock. The social worker spent the next four months on Ffion’s ward.
“Nothing was ever too much trouble for Ffion,” she said.
“She will advocate on your behalf and, no matter how busy she is, she will make time to listen and chat and get things done.
“She was incredibly reassuring and approachable. She talked me through everything and made me feel 100% comfortable. She encouraged me to do things myself such as wound dressing and my anti-blood clotting injections so that I was independent when I left and didn’t require the district nurses at home.
“She’s on the ward late into the night, way beyond her shift. I don’t think I ever saw her leaving on time – she’s happy, always smiling and is very positive regardless of how stressed she must have been.”
Christina, who was transferred to specialists at Salford Royal Hospital in June before being allowed home, found out about the awards event from a poster while on the Tegid ward.
She added: “All of the staff on the ward are very good but Ffion is exceptional and nothing is too much trouble for her. She is so easy to talk to.
“I will be forever grateful to her for taking such good care of me. I think she deserves this award hands down and really deserves the recognition.
“The health service needs staff like Ffion, who go above and beyond the call of duty.”
Ffion, who attended Ysgol Syr Hugh Owen in Gwynedd, says putting patients first is something every nurse should strive towards.
“Sometimes patients just need someone to talk to, who’s not going to belittle them, or someone who talks to them about something other than their illness,” she said.
“I’m a bit of a chatterbox and I think that goes down very well.”
Her commitment to training has also been acknowledged and is the primary reason she has made the shortlist of the Royal College of Nursing Wales’ Mentorship award.
“Before, we couldn’t take students on the ward because we didn’t have enough staff. In my new role, we have students lining up to come to us because they’ve heard about the support we provide,” she said.
“We have lots of students wanting to do their management training with us. Our students are the nurses of the future and if they’re not treated well now they won’t train their own students properly in the future and the cycle continues.
“I want to teach people to care for people the way I want to be cared for if they ever have to treat me.”
The BCUHB awards ceremony, which will involve a three-course meal plus live music, will be attended by 350 fellow health professionals, members of staff and guests including board members, volunteers and representatives from the Community Health Council.
Winners from the 15 categories will be presented with an engraved glass trophy by chief executive Gary Doherty and chairman Peter Higson.
The health board received more than 100 nominations across the 15 award categories. Entries were judged by a selection board comprising chairman Dr Peter Higson, chief executive Gary Doherty, director of workforce and organisational development Martin Jones, independent board member and former midwife Jenie Dean and director of finance Russ Favager.
Also nominated for the Most Outstanding Contribution to Improving the Life of Patients Award is the Home Dialysis Team at Ysbyty Gwynedd and the Deep Clean Team and Domestic Services at Wrexham Maelor Hospital.
Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board Chief Executive Gary Doherty said: “These awards celebrate the hard work, commitment and success of our staff and volunteers.
“Improving our support to staff is one of the key objectives for myself, as Chief Executive, and the Board. We believe these awards will help to show how much we value our dedicated colleagues across the organisation.
“It was wonderful to read all the nominations, which have come from colleagues and from patients. It was a difficult task to shortlist three for each award – and even harder to decide on the winners.
“I am looking forward to meeting all the nominees on the evening and thanking them personally for helping deliver excellence to patients in North Wales.”