England’s most senior, internationally trained, Acute Trust Chief Nursing Officer, Arlene Wellman, has been awarded an MBE for her career in nursing.
She was presented with the award yesterday by HRH Charles, Prince of Wales at Windsor Castle.
Originally from Trinidad and Tobago, Arlene came to the UK more than 20 years ago and has dedicated 26 years to a career in nursing and helping others.
As Group Chief Nurse of St George’s, Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals and Health Group she leads 4867 nurses and was awarded the MBE as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honours in June 2021.
Arlene said: “Growing up in Trinidad and Tobago, I initially embarked on a career in teaching but I had known from an early age that I wanted to help people; and a career in nursing has allowed me to do just that.
“I am humbled and so grateful to be awarded an MBE, which is testament to the incredible nurses I’ve had the honour to work with over the years.”
When Arlene moved to the UK she planned to train as a midwife, she then started on a general medical ward and fell in love with elderly care nursing, the field she has specialised and worked in for more than 20 years.
She is passionate about promoting an inclusive workplace and actively advocates for equality, diversity and inclusion through her visibility and availability to support individual members of staff, involvement in staff networks and support to her Executive and Non-Executive Directors.
She supported the development of the REACH (Racial Equality and Cultural Heritage) network at Epsom and St Helier hospitals which provides a support system for BAME (Black Asian and Minority Ethnic) staff and allies. The network gathers the voice of these staff to inform decision making by the Trust Board, with Arlene being the Executive sponsor for the network.
Group Chief Executive of St George’s, Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals and Health Group, Jacqueline Totterdell, said: “We’re all incredibly proud of our Arlene and she massively deserves this recognition and honour.
“Arlene is a fantastic role model and visible leader who listens to staff and flies the flag for the thousands of nurses, midwives and health care support workers across our St George’s, Epsom and St Helier family.
“Arlene’s contribution to the nursing profession is truly outstanding, and there’s no doubt that her success will not only inspire all the nurses working in our hospital group, but also the many international nurses that may be considering following in her footsteps and joining the NHS.”
Arlene has played an integral role in the delivery of key quality improvements, but also in responding to the pandemic as the Chief Nurse and Director of Infection Prevention and Control at Epsom and St Helier hospitals, and now sits on the Board of both St George’s and Epsom and St Helier hospitals.
Group Chairman, Gillian Norton said: “I would like to say a huge congratulations to Arlene – this honour is testament to the outstanding care Arlene and her team provide for our patients. Arlene’s calm professionalism and compassionate nature is an inspiration to us all.”
Arlene has held a number of other positions including matron, senior matron and divisional nurse at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust.
Arlene holds a first degree in Health and Social Care for Older People and a Master’s degree in Clinical Healthcare Practice.
Arlene has a Florence Nightingale Leadership Fellowship and is working towards becoming a registered patient safety executive with the Institute of Healthcare Improvement.