A BRADFORD health worker has been recognised in The Queen’s Birthday Honours for outstanding service to the NHS during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Claire Chadwick (pictured), Nurse Consultant and Director for Infection Prevention at Bradford Royal Infirmary, part of Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, has been awarded an MBE for her work in the field of infection prevention and control.
Claire admitted she was still in shock at receiving the news but relieved she could now share it.
“I have known about this for about four weeks and I’ve had to keep it a secret, which has been really difficult,” said Claire, who said she couldn’t even share her news with husband Paul, a consultant microbiologist or the rest of the family, friends or colleagues.
Now the embargo has passed she has at last been able to tell daughters Katy and Laura and son Chris. A weekend of celebrations has been organised which includes a special afternoon tea, where she can put her parents and sister in the picture.
“It was such a relief being able to tell everyone because I’ve been worried I would let something slip. It’s lovely being able to get together with the family to tell them, especially with my sister, who lives in a home for the disabled and who I’ve only seen twice in the whole of the pandemic.”
Claire said when she received the email in May telling her of the award, her first reaction was one of disbelief.
“I read the email and then I read it again. I could barely breathe,” said Claire who added she was humbled to be nominated.
Originally from Sheffield, Claire revealed she had wanted to be a nurse for as long as she could remember, to “care for people and help make them better.” She trained in Sheffield and her nursing career has included working at the Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester (where she set up an infection control service), the AIDS and HIV Unit at the former Monsall Hospital, Manchester, Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust and at Bangor Hospital, North Wales.
She joined Bradford Teaching Hospitals in 2018 – a memorable year, she recalled, as just weeks after taking up her new role, the region was hit by a measles outbreak.
Her passion for infection prevention and control was sparked early on. “I trained at Sheffield School of Nursing and my first job on qualifying was on an infectious diseases ward and you could say I caught the bug! I found it so varied and fascinating,” said Claire, who served as treasurer of the Infection Prevention Society.
“IPC certainly keeps you on your toes as there are never two days alike and it is something that touches all areas of a hospital. You have to be able to adapt to any situation, which also gives you the opportunity to meet lots of different people. What I enjoy about IPC is that you never make a particular area or team adapt to your needs, you adapt to theirs instead.”
During the pandemic, Claire has led an infection prevention and control team that has worked across every single area of the Trust with the single most aim of keeping patients, colleagues and visitors as safe as possible, and she was keen to praise the work and support of the team.
“I want to pay tribute to the team which has worked brilliantly. Colleagues have worked non-stop, having to adapt to guidance which has been constantly changing; throughout they have asked the same questions time after time: Is this as safe as we can possibly make it? What else can we do to make things even safer? I’m incredibly proud of them.”
COVID19, has also brought extra responsibility for Claire, who has acted as a quality control checker for the national PPE purchase on behalf of the NHS Supply Chain.
Her perfect way of unwinding is to spend time with Paul walking in the Derbyshire Peak District, where the couple have a cottage in the village of Eyam.
“This is known as the plague village because it’s where there was an outbreak of the Black Death in 1665. The irony of an infection prevention nurse and a microbiologist having a place there is not lost on us or our friends!” she said.
She admits the last 18 months have been incredibly challenging: “You don’t think you’ll ever live through a pandemic, though of course you always prepare for one. When I saw what was happening in China, then Italy back in early 2020, I knew we were in for something big. I am incredibly proud of that fact that when I went to colleagues with my concerns, they listened and they acted. That’s what I love about working at BTHFT; you are so respected and supported.”
Chief Nurse, Karen Dawber, who put Claire forward for the award, said: “Claire has had an exceptional career and achieved so much; she speaks with passion and compassion about the work she has done in the past and the work she is doing now.
“Claire has undoubtedly improved thousands of lives over the span of her career and saved thousands of lives over the last 18 months. Claire is solid, dependable, knowledgeable and an expert in her own right.
“Every Chief Nurse should have a Claire Chadwick. I am privileged to work with Claire and I am delighted that my nomination has led to Claire being honoured in this way. My heartfelt congratulations and best wishes to Claire and her family on this special occasion.”