Mid Staffs: Helene Donnelly and Julie Bailey honoured

Helene Donnelly (L) and Julie Bailey Helene Donnelly (L) and Julie Bailey

Two women who led the fight against one of the most shocking failings in NHS history have been recognised in the New Year honours list.

The care at Stafford Hospital left some patients drinking water from vases, it is claimed, and receptionists assessing emergency cases.

Julie Bailey, who set up the campaign group Cure the NHS after witnessing her mother's treatment, was made a CBE.

Helene Donnelly, a nurse who became a whistleblower, was made an OBE.

Figures suggested there were more deaths than would have been expected at Stafford Hospital between 2005 and 2008.

Patients needing pain relief either got it late or not at all, leaving them crying out for help, and there were cases where food and drinks were left out of reach.

Helene Donnelly worked in the A&E department at the hospital.

She raised nearly 100 complaints about the treatment of patients, turned whistleblower and was a key witness at the Stafford Hospital public inquiry.

She told the BBC she was "tremendously proud and honoured" to receive the OBE for services to the NHS, after what had been a "very difficult time personally and professionally".

Ms Donnelly said she was surprised when she found out: "It was rather surreal really, I was completely shocked, I thought is this some sort of mistake?"

She is now an ambassador for cultural change at the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Partnership NHS Trust and takes staff concerns directly to the chief executive.

"I hope this [honour] is recognition for lots of other people trying to raise concerns and this is also for the positive change we're trying to encourage now."

Campaign to cure

Julie Bailey, who led the campaign for a public inquiry into failings at the hospital, was given a CBE for "services to the care of older people".

Her 86-year-old mother Bella collapsed in the hospital in 2007 after being left without her oxygen supply.

Ms Bailey spent the next eight weeks sleeping on the ward after resolving that her mother should not be left alone in the hospital.

She said she witnessed "utter chaos" on the ward with patients drinking out of flower vases.

Her mother later died at the hospital and Ms Bailey set up the Cure the NHS campaign group with other relatives of patients who had died at the hospital.

Previous inquiries into care had been held in private. The group successfully campaigned for a full public inquiry which concluded in 2013.

Since then new rules, to make hospitals in England publish monthly details of whether they have enough nurses on their wards and making a criminal offence of wilful neglect to hold staff to account, have been announced.

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