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Volunteers who offer a comforting presence for patients at the end of their lives recognised at second national awards ceremony

Following their recent recognition as finalists at the Nursing Times awards, a team of volunteers who support the holistic care of patients as they near the end of their lives have now won a prestigious national accolade.

Image representing Volunteers who offer a comforting presence for patients at the end of their lives recognised at second national awards ceremony

On Friday, 6 December, the Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust (PAHT) partner charity, the Anne Robson Trust, were selected as the winners of the End of Life Care Award at the Markel 3rd Sector Care Awards ceremony in London (pictured).

The team were presented with their award by the hosts of the event, renowned TV presenter Dame Esther Rantzen and her daughter, Rebecca Wilcox, also a well-known presenter.

The award is designed to acknowledge individuals or teams that recognise how choices made by the person being cared for and their family are central to the service and care that is delivered. This involves reflecting fully on what is important to the person at the end of their life.

The Butterfly Volunteers' challenging work requires a delicate, sensitive approach, for which PAHT has recently become the Anne Robson Trust Centre of Excellence to provide specialist training. It is for this partnership with the charity, that The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust (PAHT) was shortlisted for the Enhancing Patient Dignity Award 2019 by the Nursing Times.

PAHT currently have 30 volunteers in place who are able to offer a comforting presence for patients at the end of their life and can be someone to talk to when patients, families or carers may be lonely or frightened.

Since the programme began, over 1,800 visits have been made to patients, hundreds of hours have been spent by the bedside and positive messages from families and carers have been received.

Nicki Harris, Butterfly Volunteers coordinator said: "The Butterfly Volunteers are a fabulous team and I am so proud to work with them every day.

"It is a fantastic boost for them, knowing that their contributions to our patients' lives have been acknowledged nationally."

Sharon McNally, director of nursing, midwifery and Allied Health Professionals at PAHT, said: "I am delighted that the dedication the Butterfly Volunteers show in offering a listening ear and talking to patients who are at the end of their lives has been recognised at the 3rd Sector Care Awards, as equally it is by our teams across the hospital."

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Notes to editors:

The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust was established in April 1995 and provides services at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow, the Herts and Essex Hospital in Bishop's Stortford, and St Margaret's Hospital in Epping. We have an annual income of around £236,700 million. We have 414 general and acute beds at the Princess Alexandra Hospital and provide a full range of general acute services, including a 24/7 emergency department, an intensive care unit, a maternity unit and a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). We also provide outpatient and diagnostic services from the Herts and Essex Hospital, Bishop's Stortford, and St Margaret's Hospital in Epping.

We employ around 3,500 staff and serve a local population of about 350,000 people living in West Essex and East Hertfordshire, centred on the M11 corridor and the towns of Harlow, Bishop's Stortford and Epping. Our extended catchment area incorporates a population of up to 500,000 and includes the areas of Hoddesdon, Cheshunt and Broxbourne in Hertfordshire.

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