The Sue Pembrey award, set up by Sue’s family and friends in her memory, recognises excellence in nurse leadership. Dr Sue Pembrey was one of the UK's outstanding nursing leaders with her most notable contributions including supporting the academic development of clinical nursing and the development of nursing practice through the strengthening of the ward sister's leadership role and pioneering a commitment to patient/person-centred hospital care.
Heather started her nurse training at Manchester Royal Infirmary and went on to train as a cardiothoracic nurse and practice nurse, during which she also completed her degree in nursing. After a long spell in senior management in primary care, she retrained in community development working on a programme called Connecting Communities or C2. This involves working in equal partnership with communities to improve wellbeing by identifying what’s strong and not just what’s wrong.
Heather is now an independent public health nurse based in Sale in Greater Manchester. She undertook her Masters in Business Administration with the Open University to enable her to start her own business, Brightness Management, which offers ‘a few bright ideas to improve health and social care’.
She was awarded the honorary title of ‘Queen’s Nurse’ in 2013 by the Queen’s Nursing Institute, which recognises quality in community nursing. Heather was a finalist for an RCNi award for her work with social enterprise Unlimited Potential to enable disadvantaged fathers in Salford to find their own solutions to their wellbeing problems. On the anniversary of the 70th birthday of the NHS earlier this year the NHS Confederation named her as one of ‘health and care’s top 70 stars’.
Influencing public health policy is a key part of her work and, after 5 years on the national executive of New NHS Alliance, in 2016 she was voted in as chair, allowing her to speak to policy makers in NHS England and Public Health England about tackling health equalities by focusing on wellness as well as illness.
Heather said: “I am very humbled to receive the Sue Pembrey Award 2018 and I want to thank the family and friends of Sue and the Foundation of Nursing Services for giving me this opportunity to highlight my work.
“Sue was a pioneer of person-centred care and I hope that I can continue that tradition now in my work, partnering and innovating with communities experiencing deep disadvantage and social injustice, in order to improve wellbeing.
Heather, who has had asthma since childhood, is currently working on her new programme BreathChamps in Salford, Morecambe and Tameside. She is creating ‘asthma parties’ with local people and professionals, to help whole communities learn about children’s asthma using fun and memorable songs, stories, games and crafts.
Heather is an active member of the Central Manchester branch of the RCN and the RCN Public Health Forum. As well as focusing on asthma, over the next few years she aims to help nurses understand theories of wellbeing and help them translate this into practical action, to overcome health inequality.