Nurse nominated for posthumous award ‘made patients feel special’

Paul Murray received a record number of nominations for the Patient's Choice award

Paul Murray

A record number of nominations were received for the late nurse practitioner Paul Murray for the 2021 Patient’s Choice award.

Mr Murray, who worked at Causeway Hospital in Coleraine, Northern Ireland, died following a cardiac arrest in February, after nursing for 25 years. The testimonies from people he supported show the huge impact he had on the people he cared for, as well as the wider community.

Going above and beyond during end of life care

The nominations included accounts of numerous occasions where he went above and beyond to get people with terminal cancer discharged from hospital to spend time with their family. In one case, he was able to get a helicopter to take a man at the end of life to Scotland so he could die at home with his family.

He offered support, care and follow-up to people even when it was not in his remit, providing updates to families and friends and visiting patients on his way home from work.

‘He did everything on his wards. He was the glue that brought everyone together’

William Miller, patient

Vera Bell writes: ‘My mother Linda was diagnosed with terminal cancer in her stomach in her early 40s and Mr Murray made her feel less frightened. It wasn’t his responsibility, but he went out of his way to save her from journeys to Belfast when her GP was unable to provide the COVID-19 tests she needed. He then kept in contact with a friend to check how she was getting on.

‘In the later stages of her illness, when she was in hospital, he let her friends come in and see her after-hours as he knew how precious time was with her family during visiting hours. And once when two doctors could not get access to her veins and Mr Murray had gone home, he came back in so she could get the intravenous antibiotics she needed.’

A reassuring and calm approach

William Millar recalls how when he was not in a good place and ended up in hospital for two weeks, Mr Murray paid for and brought him The Guardian every day.

‘He did everything on his wards,’ says Mr Millar. ‘He was the glue that brought everyone together. He had the phone in one hand talking to another hospital to sort out a bed for a patient and with the other hand he was taking off bed sheets in preparation for a new patient. A regular thing I heard was “Better ask Paul Murray – he’ll know what to do”.’

Scans and tests eventually led to Mr Millar’s early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, which his son Jonathan had died of four months before. 

He recalls: ‘Mr Murray was always so reassuring with his calm approach. When I was diagnosed, he would run through the next steps so I would know what to expect.

‘When I left hospital, he came to my home to do my COVID test before I could start my chemotherapy so that I didn’t have to travel to Belfast as I don’t have my own vehicle.

‘One week before he died he even drove me for my treatment so I didn’t have to use the train – it was a round trip of more than 120 miles.’

Read about the rest of our Patient’s Choice finalists below, or click here to vote

A passionate dedication to the NHS

Mr Mayer recalls how passionate Mr Murray was about the NHS.

‘He knew what was needed to help a patient,’ he adds.

‘He could get things done and made patients like me feel special. He didn’t think that anything was impossible. He really was an outstanding person.’

Voting for the Patient’s Choice award is now open. The winner will be announced at an awards ceremony on 12 October.

Elaine Cole is RCNi special projects editor

The Patient’s Choice award is sponsored by nursing uniform provider Alexandra

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