Guy's and St Thomas' nurses recognised as Rising Stars

Wednesday 12 October 2022

Rising Star Awards

Six nurses from Guy’s and St Thomas’ have been recognised for their outstanding contribution to nursing.

Aderonke Ajidahun, Adwoa Asamoah, Charlotte Yearwood Martin, Jan Michael Rase, Stella Esan and Veronica Rapezzi have been named winners of this year’s Rising Star Awards.

Now in its fifth year, the awards are part of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) London’s celebrations for Black History Month. They recognise nurses and healthcare support workers from London’s Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic nursing community who have made an outstanding contribution to the capital’s health and care system.

This year’s winners were recognised for taking their passion for justice and equality and using it to champion inclusion, to prioritise wellbeing for staff and patients, and to empower others.

Aderonke Ajidahun, a haemophilia clinical nurse specialist at St Thomas’ Hospital and Kofoworola Abeni Pratt Fellow, is a strong patient advocate who supports people to have a voice and to express any concerns. She is also a role model outside of work, advising other staff on career development and mentoring young people from ethnically diverse backgrounds to consider a career in nursing and healthcare.

Aderonke said: “I am so delighted to be receiving this award as it recognises the work that I do both in the Trust and outside the organisation. This will certainly encourage me to do more with empowering and supporting the career progression of colleagues and people from my community.”

Adwoa Asamoah, a deputy sister in the cath labs at Harefield Hospital, organises monthly staff reflective practice sessions to support staff wellbeing. She also oversees infection prevention and control and hand hygiene for the department, and was instrumental in implementing changes to improve patient safety during the pandemic.

Adwoa said: “I am grateful and humbled to receive recognition for my contribution to staff wellbeing. I am lucky to work in a team dedicated to saving lives who have shown the same commitment in supporting me with managing infection prevention and our wellbeing. My role has a number of challenges but it brings a lot of satisfaction knowing the difference this brings to both patients and colleagues.”

Charlotte Yearwood Martin, a fertility research nurse at Guy’s Hospital and Kofoworola Abeni Pratt Fellow, proactively recruits women from Black and ethnic minority backgrounds into clinical trials. Evidence suggests that these women are less likely to volunteer to participate in research for a number of reasons. Charlotte has broken down barriers between local communities and healthcare, in an area which is often taboo and has a significant impact on women.

Charlotte said: “I am extremely delighted and grateful for this acknowledgement by RCN London for my work in proactively recruiting patients from ethnic monitory backgrounds in clinical trials.”

Jan Michael Rase, a senior theatre practitioner at St Thomas’ Hospital and Kofoworola Abeni Pratt Fellow, is passionate about supporting colleagues, particularly those who are underrepresented. He has supported the workforce team in their work around international recruitment, and has used his own experience to drive forward the pastoral care and professional development of internationally recruited staff.

Jan said: “The award for me means that this is a win for everyone that I represent, this award goes to all ethnic minorities that have experienced inequalities and who continue to fight and rise above it. I dedicate this award as well to all of the people that have empowered me in my journey so I can lead by example.”

Stella Esan is a senior staff nurse with the @Home team, caring for patients in their own homes in Lambeth and Southwark. She was previously a staff nurse in adult intensive care and took a proactive role in setting up the first Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Network across Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals. During the COVID-19 pandemic she spoke to many members of the community to find out about their experiences, and offered a listening ear to many staff from ethnic minority backgrounds.

Stella said: “Whilst I am very appreciative for the recognition and to be named a Rising Star, there is still an enormous amount of untapped potential stifled in the lower bands. I will not rest until I see people who look like me comfortably occupying spaces which we have been strategically excluded from. I’m privileged to be under the leadership of a proactive Chief Nurse and Deputy who unapologetically call out racism and inequality. It pleases me to work in tandem with them to ensure anti-racism and justice remain top of the agenda.”

Veronica Rapezzi, a senior staff nurse in the intensive therapy unit at Harefield Hospital, has carried out a huge amount of work around diversity and inclusion to explore the issues nurses may have and to work out ways to address any concerns. She has helped set up many initiatives including a ‘This is me’ section in the staff newsletter, a comprehensive holiday calendar, a diversity box in the staff room for everyone to leave anonymous comments, and regular online questionnaires.

Veronica said: “I'm very honoured to receive this award. It's an amazing form of recognition for all the work done in these past months around diversity and inclusion. I deeply value the fact that I was nominated for this award as it gives me the opportunity to highlight the importance and the need for more ‘diversity champions’ to promote positive changes across all levels of the NHS. This award also gives me confidence to continue with this project, expand it and introduce new initiatives in the future. Discrimination and inequality were factors present during a big period of my life, and that is why I'm now determined to try and make changes for the better.”

Jay Dungeni, Deputy Chief Nurse at Guy’s and St Thomas’, said: “We are so proud of our outstanding nurses who have gone above and beyond to provide compassionate care for their patients and colleagues. Our Rising Stars represent nursing care at its best.”

Last updated: October 2022

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