A much loved healthcare assistant from Newcastle has been posthumously awarded the Chief Nursing Officer for England’s Healthcare Support Worker Award in recognition of her exceptional dedication to patient care, with infectious positivity and remarkable contributions to the Freeman Hospital community.
This Chief Nursing Officer Award is very prestigious in the nursing profession, recognising the vital contribution of Healthcare Support Workers and only bestowed upon those who have demonstrated the highest of standards and excellence in their practice.
Linda’s family was presented with this coveted national award by Deputy Chief Nursing Officer for England, Duncan Burton and was joined by Gill Hunt, Regional Director of Nursing for the North East & Yorkshire who were both delighted to be invited to join in the celebration with her family and work colleagues.
An exceptional role model
Described as an exceptional role model and highly regarded by those around her, Linda was a passionate advocate for patients, a confidant to colleagues and a hugely respected member of the orthopaedics team for many years in Newcastle.
Sadly, Linda died suddenly last year just two weeks before her 45th anniversary working for Newcastle Hospitals – testament to how proud she was to work here and a tremendous accolade that she was looking forward to celebrating.
Executive Chief Nurse Maurya Cushlow said “I met Linda not long before she passed away and my lasting impression of her was of laughter and lipstick. We had a great conversation, talking about times gone by, the people we knew, and her work of which she was so proud.
She was a fantastic nurse and a fantastic advocate within our profession. She was well respected and well loved by everybody who knew her. That’s why it’s so important to take today to say a big thank you to Linda, and to recognise her unique contribution.Executive Chief Nurse Maurya Cushlow
Linda’s NHS life began as a healthcare assistant on Ward 19 (orthopaedics) in 1977, just one week after the brand new Freeman Hospital opened its doors – a trailblazer at the time in the world of elective care.
She continued to work in orthopaedics for the next 45 years working alongside generations of colleagues and even after her retirement, she returned and carried on working two days a week.
“Linda was an exceptional person,” said colleague and friend Matron Emma O’Brien. “She always brought a sense of fun to the working day and thoroughly enjoyed caring for her patients making sure they were reassured and felt at ease, always with her inimitable smile thanks to her infamous red lipstick.”
Linda was known for her generous nature and maternal approach to new starters and student nurses taking them under her wing and proudly showing them the high standards of the ‘Linda way’.
She embodied the essence of our values here in Newcastle – caring and kind, inclusive and very proud.
Emma continues: “Her laughter and warm sense of humour was infectious and never wavered, even in the most challenging of times. At the age of 72 years, Linda was still going strong, the life and soul of the ward with a mischievous twinkly in her eye and staff would often be in tears laughing at Linda’s jokes. We all have a special story to tell about Linda.”
“Linda achieved something special as a healthcare assistant and she will be so dearly missed.
We feel privileged to have known her and she is so deserving of this award recognising her dedication to caring for others and to her work with the Trust.Emma O'Brien, Matron for musculoskeletal services
Regional Director of Nursing Gill Hunt explained how the Chief Nursing and Chief Midwifery Officer Awards were introduced to recognise excellence in nursing and midwifery practice, and how these awards were extended to Healthcare and Midwifery Support Workers in 2022 recognising the vital role they play, day in day out for patients.
“This Award is really prestigious,” explained Gill. “To put into context in the North East and Yorkshire region there are 33 NHS Trusts. We employ around 27,000 Healthcare Support Workers and have only given out 38 awards. The process is rigorous, with every nomination assessed by a panel so to receive one is a great achievement.
“Certainly listening to Emma talking today I can’t think of a more worthy and fitting recipient and I feel very privileged to be with you today to recognise Linda’s legacy”.
Before reading out Linda’s nomination Deputy Chief Nursing Officer Duncan added “This is an award we don’t given out lightly so it really does demonstrate how special it is. I’m sorry that Linda isn’t here to receive it herself but I’m very glad that her family are here today to be able to do that on her behalf.
Duncan continued “Hospitals are not about the buildings. They’re about the people that work in them and the people that are cared for in them. I think the fact that there are so many colleagues here today is a sign of how important Linda was to you.
“I can imagine Linda has cared for tens of thousands of patients over 45 years and will have worked with thousands of colleagues during that time as well, so I’m sure she will have touched so many lives, in so many different ways and that’s something to be very proud of.”
Family’s pride of Linda’s prestigious award
Alison, one of Linda’s daughters spoke on behalf of the family to say that today was a happy day and that they were so proud of her to receive this prestigious award and for being recognised for her amazing contribution to the NHS.
She also talked of how Linda was nominated a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Trust’s Celebrating Excellence Awards last year and whilst she didn’t win the category, the fact she was in the final four was something the family were very proud of.
Alison said “She didn’t win but that didn’t matter because she was always our winner in our eyes. We were overwhelmed and so proud when we heard how much of an impact our mam made at the Freeman Hospital and how highly thought of she was.”
Alison continued to say how much Linda loved her job and loved going into work every day, working in the same department for 45 years. She reflected that not many people are lucky enough to feel this way and in fact Linda loved her job so much, when many others would be counting down the days to retirement, she didn’t want to stop.
Mam loved the Freeman Hospital. It was a huge part of her life – her colleagues were not just colleagues, they were her friends, many becoming lifelong friends and I want to thank them all. You obviously contributed to her loving her job so much that we couldn’t get her to leave.Alison Ross, Linda Flynn's daughter
“It’s been a bittersweet day but we hope in years to come we can share today’s events with her beloved grandchildren so that they can be as proud of her as we are.”
Chief Nursing Officer / Chief Midwifery Officer Awards
Healthcare support workers and maternity support workers are at the heart of clinical settings and local communities up and down the country, making a real difference every day to the lives of patients they care for and the nursing and midwifery colleagues they support. Both are integral to our workforce and deserve recognition and celebration for all that they do.
We want to recognise our support workforce and the vital role they play.