Ophthalmology Unsung Hero

The NHS employs a multitude of non-clinical staff working to ensure the smooth-running of organisations and to improve patient experience. This honour recognises those who demonstrate excellence in all aspects of their role while making an outstanding contribution to patient experience.

Honouree

Sabeena Kaushali Weyhenage and Neima the guide dog
Ophthalmic Eye Clinic Liaison Officer (ECLO)
Kingston Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Sabeena qualified and worked as a doctor until sight loss terminated her career. She subsequently became associated with the Royal National Institute for the Blind, retrained as an ECLO and was recruited to the Royal Eye Unit (REU) in May 2017. After an 18-month wait, Sabeena’s guide dog Neima entered her life on Valentine’s Day 2018. Together they are an example to all through their achievements of living with sight loss.

Sabeena has proved to be a force of compassion, information and inspiration for patients facing visual impairment. The advice she gives is comprehensive and authentic. She is highly skilled with different technological aids that patients can use. Her energy, enthusiasm and positivity have won the respect of all within the REU.

Sabeena has worked hard to increase staff awareness around the challenges patients face and the importance of offering support. She has taught the team practical skills and has inspired a greater level of compassion among staff.

Sabeena has gained respect and admiration from both patients and staff for the work she does. She is unassuming and humble, with a tenacious commitment to guiding patients who live with sight loss, without fear of the future.

Why this was chosen

“Sabeena is a great example of how adversity can be turned into a positive attribute, and gives people hope. In her role as an ECLO she also provides an exceptional contribution both to patients and staff by increasing their awareness of the impact of sight loss.”

Highly commended

Mary Fletcher
Volunteer
Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust

Mary is a volunteer for the Royal Berkshire Hospital and supports their busy ophthalmology department.

Mary has many roles and wears many hats, but her most impactful contribution is the assistance she provides to patients as they move around the Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) clinic. The Royal Berkshire Hospital AMD service is split over two floors and patients have to move upstairs if they require an injection. Not only does Mary help the busy team by transferring patients and their notes upstairs, but she also does it with a constant smile, reassuring patients along the way and making them feel at ease.

Mary is a vital member of the team at Royal Berkshire Hospital and her colleagues feel they couldn’t work as well without her. She plays a pivotal role in maintaining communications between consultants, nurses and eye clinic liaison officers and ensures patient notes don’t go missing.

Mary’s team describe her as ‘a shining star’. She is appreciated by staff and patients alike for her smile, nurturing nature and contribution to patient service.

Why this was chosen

“Mary’s contribution to the macular service is impressive: her simple actions have a significant impact on patients and staff and she is a vital member of her team.”

Commended

Carol Collins
Medical retina co-ordinator
NHS Lanarkshire

Carol took the post of Medical Retina Co-ordinator in 2007 when the first business case was completed for anti-VEGF injections for age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Since then, she has been the workforce behind the medical retina and intravitreal injection therapy (IVT) service. She has been involved behind the scenes and seen the service grow from just treatment for AMD to diabetic macular oedema (DMO) to retinal vein occlusion (RVO), keeping everyone’s spirits up despite long-term underfunding and shortage of medical staff.

Carol’s job involves managing patients’ appointments for AMD, DMO and RVO clinics and anti-VEGF injections. Carol, along with her colleague, manages about 41 clinics and 14 IVT sessions per week. She handles up to 40 messages each morning, mostly from elderly patients, and deals with the many cancellation, booking and rescheduling appointment requests with endless patience. Carol’s work ensures the clinics are maintained at their full capacity.

Carol’s efficiency and computer skills are valued by the clinic. She is known by her first name by all patients and by referring optometrists. Carol is the person who keeps the service running smoothly and the team would be lost without her. Carol is indeed the invisible behind-the-scenes force that needs recognition.

Why this was chosen

“Carol plays a really expanded role that keeps the service running, and she does this in a competent and caring way. Her hard work and strong work ethic are commendable.”

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