Norfolk nurse wins national award for helping rheumatoid arthritis patients

Innovations in your Specialty Award - WinnerHeather Hasthorpe, rheumatology specialist nurse, Norfol

Innovations in your Specialty Award - WinnerHeather Hasthorpe, rheumatology specialist nurse, Norfolk & Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation TrustL-R:Steve Jamieson, Head of Nursing, Royal College of NursingHeather Hasthorpe, rheumatology specialist nurse, Norfolk & Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation TrustJane Cummings, Chief Nursing Officer for the NHS in EnglandFiona Phillips, Broadcaster - Credit: Archant

A Norfolk nurse, who has helped thousands of patients with a crippling disease, has scooped a national award.

Heather Hasthorpe, who set up a specialist clinic at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital to get earlier treatment for rheumatoid arthritis patients, spoke of her surprise and delight after her success at the Nursing Standard Nurse Awards 2013.

The 49-year-old, who has worked in the NHS for almost 30 years, established the clinic at the hospital three years ago and enables newly diagnosed patients to get treatment and drugs to stop the disease from progressing.

Mrs Hasthorpe, who lives in Buxton, near Aylsham, won the 'innovation in a speciality' category at a glitzy awards ceremony at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London on Tuesday night.

The specialist nurse began working at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital in 1990 and spent 12 years working in orthopedic and trauma theatres. She returned to working for the hospital trust in 2005 to work in rheumatology after three years at NHS Direct.


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Mrs Hasthorpe said she never expected to win and the award gave her a platform to raise awareness of rheumatoid arthritis and to stress the importance of getting early treatment for the disease.

'It is potentially destructive without early aggressive treatment. Early referral and getting them stable in six months is critical,' she said.

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Mrs Hasthorpe also hopes to set up an escalation clinic at Cromer Hospital to help more patients.

'I have been a nurse for nearly 30 years and I do the job to the best of my ability and I do work hard. I never thought for a minute when I was shortlisted that I would win. I was so proud to be in the room with the calibre of the candidates. I'm only as good as my team and I am privileged to work in a fabulous team,' she said.

Mrs Hasthorpe also learned this week that she had come second in the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society Patients in Focus awards.

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