Guardian recognised in New Year’s Honours List for services to the NHS during the COVID-19 response

Dr Judith Graham, Queen’s Nurse, Director for Psychological Professionals and Freedom to Speak Up Guardian at Rotherham, Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust, has been awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) in the New Year’s Honours List 2021.

Dr Graham, who until recently was also the Freedom to Speak Up Regional Chair for Yorkshire and Humber, was awarded the British Empire Medal for her work supporting colleagues during the pandemic.

During the pandemic, Judith worked with RDaSH teams to develop an enhanced staff wellbeing programme that supported all, especially the most vulnerable; worked with Trust lead psychologists to establish psychological support hubs; supported the development and enhancing of support for Black Asian and Minority Ethnic and Lesbian Gay Bi-sexual, Transgender and Questioning staff networks as well as developing a network for staff who were at home shielding.

She also enhanced leadership support for regional Freedom to Speak Up guardians, moving from bimonthly meetings to 2 weekly meetings which included reflection, support and information sharing.

The National Guardian for the NHS, Dr Henrietta Hughes OBE, said: “Jude richly deserves this honour. As a Guardian and a Network Chair she has continually strived to ensure that Freedom to Speak Up is available to all, especially the most vulnerable workers whose voices may not be heard. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how important is, for the safety of workers as well as patients, that everyone is listened to. Jude’s response in this time of crisis exemplifies her value to my office as a wise counsellor and innovative leader.”

Commenting on the honour, Jude said: “The pandemic has brought about unprecedented pressure in the NHS and related health and social care services, therefore the need to support staff and enable any concerns to be raised and resolved has been brought even more into the forefront. Throughout the pandemic in my internal trust and regional Freedom to Speak Up role I have supported the enhancement of these services, specifically attempting to hear the voices of staff who have diverse characteristics.

“This has been through supporting the development of internal staff networks including a network for shielding staff, the DAWN network (Disability and Wellbeing Network) and the BAME Network – also providing ‘ask me anything’ digital conversations where staff could join anonymously if needed and ask questions.

Regionally encouraging others to also provide enhanced focus upon connecting with all voices, I was also asked to present about this way of working with Nomalanga Makhanda at the regional health and wellbeing virtual conference facilitated by NHSi.”

Kathryn Singh, Chief Executive of RDaSH, said: “I am so proud of Judith. She works incredibly hard not only at RDaSH but also in her other roles including her national Freedom to Speak Up role. She regularly carries out charity work and also raises cash for well deserving causes. She is hard working, cares passionately for others and is inspirational. She thoroughly deserves this award.”

Dr Graham is a Queen’s Nurse, Director of Psychological Professionals and Freedom to Speak Up Guardian at Rotherham, Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust. She is also an Advanced Nurse Consultant and has worked in a variety of clinical posts within the NHS for over 17 years.

Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust (RDaSH) provides a range of mental health, learning disability, drug and alcohol services and community health services across the three areas. Last year, RDash won the HSJ Freedom to Speak Up Organisation of the year award for the work led by Dr Graham in developing compassionate speak up cultures within the Trust and across the region.