Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

I'm So Proud to Be an NHS Champion; Continuing the Standard's Groundbreaking Campaign

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

I'm So Proud to Be an NHS Champion; Continuing the Standard's Groundbreaking Campaign

Article excerpt

Byline: BONNIE ESTRIDGE;STEPHANIE ZINSER

The Evening Standard's NHS Champions campaign is offering a prize of [pounds sterling]30,000 to some of the health service's most distinguished workers - nurses, doctors, midwives, care assistants, ambulance crew and GP practices.

And you, readers, can nominate the staff you believe are the most deserving. Our panel of judges includes celebrity cook Nigella Lawson and television presenter and former England footballer Gary Lineker, as well as Christine Hancock, president of the International Council of Nurses, Professor Sir Ara Darzi, a government adviser on surgery, and Julia Neuberger, chief executive of the King's Fund. Nominations are open until 25 November.

MIDWIFE

MICHELLE KUKIELKA, 39, is married to Richard, a 42-year-old police officer.

They live in Oxhey, Hertfordshire, with their children Lalenya, 14, and Jessie, 13.

Michelle is a teenage-pregnancy midwife at West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust in Watford, Hemel Hempstead and St Albans.

Richard nominated his wife because of her dedication. "She often faces hostile situations from families and friends of teenage mothers," he says.

"She thinks nothing of putting herself in risky situations to achieve an end result. She is a true champion."

As the co-ordinator with responsibility for all pregnant teenagers in her area, Michelle concentrates on ante- and postnatal care, and the social and educational needs of pregnant teenagers.

"There is no such thing as a typical day because I'm not a traditional kind of midwife," she says. "When I took on this role two-and-a-half years ago I simply planned to develop antenatal classes. But on meeting the girls - some as young as 13 - I was faced with such a multitude of complex problems that I knew the classes could never be enough.

"Homelessness, poverty, isolation, low self-esteem and fear are just some of the issues they face," she says.

"The labour itself is the least of their worries. I offer friendship and support so I can inform and educate them with a view to achieving the best possible health and social outcome. …

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