Doing everything she could to make sure the wellbeing of children was protected is just one of the reasons School Nurse Jennifer Iheanetu was announced as the winner of the Working in Partnership Award in our staff Make a Difference awards, which celebrates our winners from 2019-2020.
As we began our response to COVID-19, we had to cancel our awards ceremony in March – but we didn’t let the pandemic stop us celebrating our amazing colleagues. Including Jennifer, who has worked as a School Nurse with NELFT for 10 years but was redeployed into a new role in March this year to help us respond to COVID-19.
Although we couldn’t come together for our celebrations in the same way this year, we decided to mark Jennifer’s amazing achievements a little differently with a surprise visit from our Chief Executive, Professor Oliver Shanley OBE, Chair, Joe Fielder and Director of Children’s Services for Essex and Kent, Gill Burns.
With her team and colleagues gathered together for a meeting at Brentwood Community Hospital, Jennifer even came in on her day off and was thoroughly surprised when Oliver announced her as the winner of Working in Partnership Award in recognition of her hard work and tenacity to work with the health and care system to ensure the welfare of protected children, leading to a positive outcome for them.
Oliver Shanley, Chief Executive, said: “This award is really worthy recognition for all the amazing work Jennifer has done. The testimonies we’ve seen about how she works in safeguarding protected children is simply outstanding and it’s an enormous honour for me to be part of these celebrations.”
Joe Fielder, Chair, said: “Jennifer has done an outstanding job in Thurrock, really making sure that we look after the very vulnerable in our communities, our young people our children.The nomination for Jennifer exemplifies how we put patients first.
"Her example of that particularly with children, who can be difficult to have heard within our communities. She's championed them and been tenacious and she's been a wonderful exemplar of the best care by the best people."
Gill Burns, Director of Children’s Services for Essex and Kent, said: “Jennifer is a highly valued member of the team, her practice has been exemplary and it’s been well documented how she’s been really tenacious in looking out for the best interests of children. Well done Jennifer, the entire organisation is very proud of you.”
Her colleague who nominated her said: “Jennifer was tenacious in raising her concerns and seeking a positive outcome about the wellbeing of children who, as a direct result or her intervention, are now safeguarded via a child protection plan.
“She worked with the prevention and support team and, because of this joint working, made a real difference for these children.”
Jennifer said: “This award is absolutely overwhelming for me, and I did not expect it – everyone kept it very quiet! I am so happy and excited and all these feelings mixed into one. It’s a massive honour to receive this award and shows that everything I’ve done hasn’t been in vain.”
Every year our Make a Difference Awards recognise staff who go above and beyond to deliver great care for our patients and support each other, and Jennifer – who was selected as a winner before the pandemic – is an example of a true NHS hero.
Meet all our Make a Difference winners
- NELFT Nurse Award: Rose Mitchell, Community Staff Nurse
- Care and Compassion Award: Rose Mitchell, Community Staff Nurse
- Team/Department Award: Acute Crisis and Assessment Team (ACAT)
- Leadership Award: Debbie Feetham, Assistant Director Immediate Care
- Outstanding Achievement Award: Salim Danyen, Integrated Care Assistant
- Improvement to Services Award: Karen Mills, Deputy Ward Manager
- Working in Partnership Award: Jennifer Iheanetu, School Nurse
- Chair’s Special Recognition Award: Justine Reed, Respiratory Nurse
- Harm Free Care Award: Diane Quinn, Community Mental Health Nurse