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Printed at: 02:00:13 / 23-06-2021

Our Claire wins national award for helping children feel safer

Milton Keynes University Hospital Healthcare Assistant Claire Norton has won a prestigious national award for her amazing work to help children to feel safe and calm during the pandemic.

Claire Norton, who is a HCA in the Children’s Emergency Department, was the winner of the Clinical Support Worker of the Year category at Skills For Health’s Our Health Heroes awards ceremony in recognition of her work to improve the experience of children in hospital.

Claire secured more public votes than the two other finalists to land the award.

Since the start of the pandemic, Claire has played a key role in making the department more child-friendly and safe in these uncertain times. She created a large visual display in the waiting room that shows patients the faces behind her colleagues’ masks, reducing anxiety by enabling children to see what staff would ‘normally’ look like. She has designed educational boards entitled ‘Snow White and the seven symptoms’, displaying information on the signs of different childhood illnesses in an interesting way.

Claire also facilitates donations from several charities who generously donate to the department, including teddy bears to give to distressed children whilst they receive treatment, and distraction boxes full of toys and activities.

Claire was presented with her award at a virtual ceremony on 23 March by Dr Navina Evans, Chief Executive at Health Education England, who said: “Extraordinary individuals like Claire do not just land into these jobs. They take years of training, experience and dedication to excel in their field, which is why it is so important we continually recognise the hard work of our incredible clinical support workforce.”

An MKUH spokesperson said: “We are delighted that Claire’s work as part of #TeamMKUH has been recognised by winning this award. It is incredibly important to recognise the efforts of all staff, especially in this difficult period. Claire fully deserves this national recognition for her tireless efforts to improve the service to patients and their parents in our Children’s Emergency Department. She always has a smile on her face and is always there for everyone else, putting others’ needs first. She truly deserves this recognition. She is an exceptional HCA, an amazing colleague, and a fantastic advocate for the children.”

Claire said: “I think it is important to not only treat our patients but educate them on their health and wellbeing. This has led to me creating education boards throughout our paediatric area. Over my nine years of working in the department, I have always believed that every patient and parent should feel comfortable in the hospital environment. I cannot express how grateful I am for this reward. To even be considered is a great privilege. I would like to thank my wonderful team for all their support and hard work, especially when they involve my weird and wonderful ideas. I truly believe they have made me the HCA I am today.”

John Rogers, Chief Executive at Skills for Health said: “Clinical Support Workers like Claire play a crucial role in the delivery of exceptional care to patients and service users within the NHS every day. Without them, our health and social care sector simply could not exist.”

The annual Our Health Heroes campaign shines a light on the extraordinary efforts of thousands of healthcare support staff who work hard behind the scenes to keep the system running. It is delivered by Skills for Health, with the help of partners NHS Employers, UNISON, SFJ Awards and Bevan Brittan. Skills for Health is a not-for-profit organisation committed to the development of an improved and sustainable healthcare workforce across the UK.