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Chief nursing officer Dr Ruth May, from Nayland, 'never prouder' to be part of NHS after knighthood in Queen's Birthday Honours list



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England's nursing chief, who was knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, says she has “never been prouder” to be part of the NHS, after highlighting the vital role played by the profession during Covid-19.

Dr Ruth May, a resident of Nayland, was last week appointed to the title of Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) – the nation’s highest honour – in recognition of her services to nursing, midwifery and the NHS.

The 55-year-old has held the position of Chief Nursing Officer for England since the start of 2019, following three years as executive director of nursing at oversight body NHS Improvement.

Dr Ruth May (pictured left, with Val Newton) was knighted in the 2022 Queen's Birthday Honours list, for services to nursing, midwifery and the NHS.
Dr Ruth May (pictured left, with Val Newton) was knighted in the 2022 Queen's Birthday Honours list, for services to nursing, midwifery and the NHS.

Much of her tenure has spanned the length of the coronavirus pandemic, during which time she led the national response to the virus for nursing, midwifery and care professions.

Having worked in leadership roles around the country during her career, she has advocated for improvements to cultural conditions, including mental health awareness and staff diversity, championing the NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard.

As regional chief nurse for the Midlands and East, the mother-of-one also spearheaded the Stop the Pressure campaign, to help reduce the number of people experiencing pressure ulcers and deliver cost savings to the NHS.

“I am proud to receive this award and I do so on behalf of the nursing and midwifery professions,” said Dr May.

“They use their expertise to care for us throughout every stage of our lives in hospitals, in our homes and in the community each and every day.

“The last two years have been incredibly challenging for our professions and I am grateful for the role that nurses, midwives and care staff have played during the pandemic.

“While I have always known how remarkable our health and care professions are, the pandemic has shone an even brighter light on their extraordinary work.

“I have never been prouder to be a nurse and choosing to dedicate my career to working in the NHS has been one of the best decisions I have ever made.”