Western Isles nurse becomes Queen’s Nurse

Western Isles nurse Debra Vickers has been awarded the title of 'Queen's Nurse'
Western Isles nurse Debra Vickers has been awarded the title of 'Queen's Nurse'

A Western Isles nurse is among a group of 20 to have been awarded the title of Queen’s Nurse, marking the first time the honour has been made in Scotland for almost 50 years.

Debra Vickers, NHS Western Isles Nurse Consultant for Cardiology, was selected earlier this year to take part in a nine-month development programme run by the Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland (QNIS).

Each of the community nurses were nominated by their managers for providing high quality, compassionate nursing care.

Debra took up a British Heart Foundation-funded post to set up the Western Isles Heart Failure Service, with the cardiac nurse team she established now managing the care of patients who are living with heart failure right across the islands.

When the service was up and running from the Butt of Lewis to Barra, NHS Western Isles took over the funding from the British Heart Foundation and developments have continued.

Debra said: “As a service we are achieving a great deal. It’s about identifying what people need to make their lives better, and doing your very best to get it for them.

“Becoming a Queen’s Nurse and going through the development programme has made me even more passionate about community cardiac nursing, and is helping me to find ways to meet challenges head on.

“Taking part in the QNIS programme was a tremendous opportunity and I really look forward to working alongside my fellow Queen’s Nurses who are all outstanding practitioners working in a variety of community settings across Scotland.”

After completing the nine-month QNIS programme, Debra has earned the right to use the Queen’s Nurse title which dates back to the late 19th century when nurses trained at Institute sites across the country until 1969.

The decision was made to reintroduce the title to Scotland in 2017 following the precedent set by sister organisation the Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI), which represents the rest of the UK. A Scottish programme was then developed after extensive consultation with health and social care leaders.

Debra is among the 20 new Queen’s Nurses gaining the title to be presented with a certificate and badge by Great British Bake Off judge Prue Leith during the QNIS awards ceremony in Edinburgh on December 1.

Other community nurses in the include a midwife caring for asylum seeking mothers in Glasgow, a nurse in police custody, alongside practice and district nurses, school nurses, a mental health nurse, health visitors, a care home and a Parish nurse.

During the ceremony, an honorary fellowship is also being presented to retired Queen’s Nurse Catherine Morrison, from Stornoway.

The award is a recognition of Mrs Morrison’s commitment to Queen’s Nursing. After retiring from a long and full career as a Queen’s District Nurse, she went on to complete her PhD on the history of Queen’s Nursing in the Outer Hebrides.

This was then turned into a book Hebridean Heroines which is sold in book shops across Scotland.