Frontline nurse and BAME staff safety champion given OBE

A frontline nurse is one of the coronavirus heroes given an OBE for her services to nursing in this year’s extraordinary honour list.

Felicia Kwaku, 52, who is Associate Director of Nursing at Kings College NHS Foundation Trust, has been a consistent champion for the safety of BAME nurses and midwives, many of whom feel they have been put at risk during the pandemic.

Kwaku dedicated her honour to the nurses she champions but argued important work was still to be done.

She said: “For me this honour is for them. For those that died, and those that continued to serve.

“We cannot be comfortable and accept the high numbers of nurses and midwives that are dying – and on top of that, well over 60% of those nurses and midwives come from a Bame background, and that is not acceptable.”

As Chair of the Chief Nursing Officer’s Bame Strategic Advisory Group, Kwaku received reports early in the crisis that Bame nurses and midwives were being endangered. 

The group set up online engagement events where they spoke to approximately 1,600 nurses and midwives, who revealed that they had been pressured to work in Covid areas without adequate PPE and without appropriate risk assessment.

These concerns were sent to the Chief Nursing Officer, with a list of recommendations which have fed into a larger piece of work looking at the NHS’s risk assessment tool.

The Queen’s birthday honours list was delayed this year to include the everyday heroes of the pandemic, who make up almost a third of those given honours.

Kwaku added: “Considering we have such a traumatised country at the moment, I think it’s really right and fitting that the honours were delayed to take into account the other contributions of people from all walks of life during Covid.

“It’s a morale boost to the whole country.”

The full list of honours can be found here.

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