Hospital Professor Awarded Prestigious Fellowship

A Professor at The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust has been awarded a Fellowship from the Royal College of Nursing – one of the highest honours the organisation presents.

Dr Wilf McSherry, Professor in Dignity of Care for Older People, was honoured with the accolade at a glittering ceremony last month. The RCN presents the prestigious award to people who have shown exceptional contributions to the RCN and for pioneering work in nursing. An RCN Fellowship is, alongside the RCN Award of Merit, and RCN Honorary Fellowship, the highest honour that the RCN can bestow.

Professor McSherry, who lives in Market Drayton, was awarded a Fellowship for making a ‘unique contribution in the areas of spirituality and dignity’.

The RCN said he was involved in the creation of a national network recognising the importance of spirituality, which has developed into the British Association for the Study of Spirituality, of which Professor McSherry is a Vice President.

Announcing the award the RCN, said: “Committed and enthusiastic, Wilfred constantly challenges existing evidence and pushes the boundaries of research.

“He has become a figurehead in the international nursing community through an unrelenting and exceptional contribution to the profession over two decades. He is described as a joy to work with, with his inclusive approach, ensuring understanding of the issues and solutions from every perspective.”

Professor McSherry has been in his current post since 2008 in a joint appointment between the Trust and The Faculty of Health at Staffordshire University.

The 49-year-old, who is married with three children, said: “For me the Fellowship was a total surprise. When I look at the people who have received this in the past, people I looked up to when I was training, it’s such an honour and privilege. It’s very humbling and I didn’t envisage it.”

Professor McSherry is passionate about improving patient dignity and has been involved in the introduction of Dignity Curtains, which are being rolled out across the Trust, and Dignity Champions, which are being reintroduced.

The blue dignity curtains which began to be rolled out across The Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and The Princess Royal Hospital in Telford last month feature the words ‘Please Do Not Enter’ and a hand in red and will provide improved privacy for all patients.

When the curtains are closed they will give staff a really strong reminder to ask a patient before opening the curtains. Elsewhere, the Trust’s Clinical Centres have been asked to identify members of staff in each clinical area to be trained as Dignity Champions by Professor McSherry.

The aim of the dignity champions’ programme is to develop a dignity network within the Trust ensuring the implementation of the Department of Health (2006) 10 point Dignity Challenge. They will champion the cause for patient dignity and privacy in all clinical areas, wards and departments ensuring an increased awareness among staff of the issue and actions that will preserve patient dignity.

Professor McSherry, whose identical twin Rob is Professor of Nursing and Practice Development at Teesside University’s School of Health and Social Care, added: “Focusing on patient dignity is paramount. A lot of work is ongoing within the Trust which supports this and keeps our focus towards upholding and observing patient dignity at all times in whatever capacity we work.” 

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