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Northern Trust nurse posthumously receives record number of nominations for prestigious award

Paul Murray, a nurse who worked for Northern Health and Social Care Trust, has been nominated for a top accolade. Mr Murray, a nurse practitioner at Causeway Hospital, Coleraine, is one of six nurses who have been named finalists in the Patient’s Choice category of the RCN Nursing Awards. The award enables members of the public to thank a nurse, midwife, health visitor, healthcare assistant or assistant practitioner who has provided exceptional care and made a huge difference to their lives. Mr Murray sadly died after a cardiac arrest in February after nursing for 25 years. The testimonies from people he supported show the huge impact he had on the people he cared for as well as the wider community.

A public vote has opened to choose the winner of the award. The winner will be announced at a ceremony celebrating nursing excellence on October 12.

The nominations for Mr Murray include accounts of numerous occasions where he went above and beyond to get people with terminal cancer discharged from hospital to spend time with their family.

In one case, he was able to get a helicopter to take a man at the end of life to Scotland so he could die at home with his family. He offered support, care and follow-up to people even when it was not in his remit, providing updates to families and friends and visiting patients on his way home from work.

Vera Bell writes:

“My daughter Linda was diagnosed with terminal cancer in her stomach in her early 40s and Mr Murray made her feel less frightened. It wasn’t his responsibility, but he went out of his way to save her from journeys to Belfast when her GP was unable to provide the COVID-19 tests she needed. He then kept in contact with a friend to check how she was getting on.

“In the later stages of her illness when Linda was in hospital, he let her friends come in and see her after hours as he knew how precious time was with her family during visiting time. And one time when two doctors could not get access to her veins and Mr Murray had gone home, he came back in so she could get the intravenous antibiotics she needed.”

William Millar recalls how when he was not in a good place and ended up in hospital for two weeks, Mr Murray paid for and brought him his newspaper every day.

“He did everything on his wards,” says Mr Millar. “He was the glue that brought everyone together. He had the phone in one hand talking to another hospital to sort out a bed for a patient and with the other hand he was taking off bed sheets in preparation for a new patient. A regular thing I heard was “Better ask Paul Murray – he’ll know what to do””.

Scans and tests eventually led to Mr Millar’s early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, which his son Jonathan had died of four months before. He recalls:

“Mr Murray was always so reassuring with his calm approach. When I was diagnosed, he would run through the next steps so I would know what to expect.

“When I left hospital, he came to my home to do my COVID test before I could start my chemotherapy so that I didn’t have to travel to Belfast as I don’t have my own vehicle. ‘One week before he died he even drove me for my treatment so I didn’t have to use the train – it was a round trip of more than 120 miles.”

Mr Mayer recalls how passionate Mr Murray was about the NHS.

“He knew what was needed to help a patient,’ he adds. ‘He could get things done and made patients like me feel special. He didn’t think that anything was impossible. He really was an outstanding person.”

Alexandra sponsors the Patient’s Choice award. Head of customer experience Ian Northmore said:

“Alexandra has been designing and making nursing uniforms for over 150 years and we are incredibly honoured and proud to be main sponsor of the 2021 RCN Nursing Awards and of the Patient’s Choice award category.

“I can’t tell you how much we’ve genuinely been moved and humbled by the stories of the life-changing and life-affirming difference nurses, across a range of specialties, are making every single day. Thank you from everyone here at Alexandra.”

Gary Bell, editorial director of RCNi, which publishes Nursing Standard, was on the panel that decided the six finalists. He said:

“These finalists demonstrate the diversity of modern nursing and the impact the profession has on the lives of people of all ages and from all walks of life, in a wide range of settings throughout the UK.

“We are delighted to be showcasing the profession’s reach and the difference it makes to individuals, families and entire communities.”

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