British 'Nurse of the Year' quits the NHS

Britain's star nurse has quit her job with the National Health Service (NHS) only eight months after being named 'Nurse of the Year'.

The 37 year old mother of two will leave nursing to take up a teaching job.

Justine Whitaker says she has quit because of the pressure constant health reforms place on frontline nursing staff.

Whitaker has called on the Health Secretary Alan Johnson, to stop paying lip service to nurses and "hear what we are saying".

Ms Whitaker is a Macmillan specialist clinical nurse with 20 years experience in the treatment of lymphoedema, the swelling of the lymph glands, at East Lancashire Primary Care Trust.

She has also invented a pain relief device to help men after prostate surgery, the Whitaker compression pouch is a garment which helps relieve painful swelling suffered by some men with prostate cancer and is used worldwide.

She leaves her job at the end of November to become a senior lecturer in the treatment of the disease at the University of Central Lancashire but will continue to practise as an independent nurse working with lymphoedema patients.

She says she is sorry to be leaving nursing but the impact of the constant reforms to the health service is grossly misunderstood by the government.

Ms Whitaker says while the government says it has talked to thousands of nurses and doctors they do not hear what they are saying.

Ms Whitaker who is in favour of change says while nurses are being told they need to make savings by using fewer needles and bandages, money is being wasted on meetings of highly paid practitioners and managers where decisions are never made.

She says she leaves a group of very unhappy nurses who have been put through the mill with constant reform.

According to Ms Whitaker, nurses' problems include bureaucracy and form-filling; new deadlines to implement government targets; and uncertainty over the merger of two local general hospitals that had raised fears of redundancy.

The Health Secretary has been embarrassed by Ms Whitaker's disclosure in the Nursing Standard but she says she does not wish to be exploited by political parties.

The Royal College of Nursing, says it is saddened that such a distinguished nurse is leaving the NHS.

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