Queen’s Nurses pay tribute to their patron Elizabeth II

Holders of the prestigious nursing title Queen's Nurse discuss how the late monarch, who was patron of the Queen’s Nursing Institute, inspired them

Queen Elizabeth II meets nurses Sarah Wallis and Daniela Reynolds during a visit to The Norfolk Hospice at Hillington in 2016
Queen Elizabeth II meets nurses Sarah Wallis and Daniela Reynolds during a visit to The Norfolk Hospice at Hillington in 2016 Picture: Chris Radburn/WPA Pool/Getty Images

Tributes have continued to pour in following the death of the Queen yesterday, with Queen’s Nurses (QNs) sharing what the monarch meant to the nursing community.

A QN is someone who is committed to high standards of practice and person-centred care and the title is bestowed by community nursing charity the Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI). The prestigious title was first awarded in 2007 and since then many nurses have been granted the honour of representing the Queen in the work they do.

A life led in service

Queen's Nurse Candice Pellett
Candice Pellett

Candice Pellett was among the first cohort to be made a QN in 2007. It is a memory she cherishes and to this day is ‘very proud’ of the work she has been able to do as a QN.

Speaking to Nursing Standard she said: ‘I am so proud to be a QN, I've worn my QN badge with great pride since 2007, it's opened up so many opportunities.

‘I’ve only ever known the Queen as our head of state in my lifetime. She meant so much to everyone and as a nurses we will remember her for her life of service because nursing is a life of service as well.

‘I’m convinced that nursing will carry on her legacy. We deliver care to our patients with a life of service and her legacy is the foundation of that.’

Pauline McIntyre became a QN in Scotland in 2019 and describes it as the ‘greatest achievement’ of her career.

‘The Queen was a remarkable woman who has been there my entire life,’ she told Nursing Standard. ‘I am deeply saddened and my thoughts are with her family at this time. We have had a leader who led with dignity and her legacy will remain in the generations to come.’

‘The self-discovery journey of QNI Scotland has been life changing for me. My whole career has always been about being there and caring for others, along the way I actually forgot about me.

‘This magical journey made me stop and reflect on who I am, the leader that I am and the voice that I have. I now use that to influence and bring about change for our profession and healthcare delivery. I am a changed person because of this.’

Reinstating the title of Queen’s Nurse

The Queen became patron of the QNI and QNI Scotland in 2002, assuming the role on the death of the Queen Mother, who had held the position for almost half a century.

In 2007, she approved the reinstatement of the title of QN in England, Wales and Northern Ireland after an absence of 40 years. The QN title was reintroduced in Scotland in 2017.

Every nurse who became a QN received a personally signed certificate from the Queen. Many QNs shared pictures of their certificate on social media today, remembering the pride they felt on receiving them.

Highlighting the best of community nursing

Siobhann Blair, also a QN in Scotland, said the prestigious title has allowed her to give back to the communities she cares for.

‘Being awarded the QN title truly was an honour. I am passionate about community nursing and having the opportunity to go on this journey with another group of like-minded nurses was career affirming,’ she said.

‘Being a QN is about being recognised as a community nurse who is passionate about supporting the communities you work with.’

She said one of the qualities used to describe QNs is ‘inspiring others by making a difference’, adding: ‘This resonates strongly with me as a nurse and is what keeps me motivated, even when times are difficult.’

Kirsty Nelson was also made a QN in Scotland in 2021 and has taken great pride in the title since it was awarded to her.

‘The title QN highlights the amazing and versatile work of community nurses and showcases the range of skill and care that can be achieved,’ she said. ‘This is so important nowadays when nurses can feel unappreciated and overlooked.’

‘The Queen was a champion of the NHS and the work of all healthcare professionals. She led with kindness and compassion, and is a true example of effective leadership.’

Remembering the Queen’s inspiring message during the pandemic

Holmes care group head of dementia and lifestyle enhancement Yvonne Mason was also included in the QN Scotland 2021 cohort. She recalls the comfort the Queen provided her during the ‘hardest time in her nursing career’ – the pandemic.

‘I had the Queen’s message to the nation saved and on days when things seemed incredibly tough I rewatched the message because she had an ability to inspire strength and offer comfort from her words,’ she said.

‘Receiving the title and seeing the Queen’s signature on that certificate which she had signed, even though she had been ill at the time, was special.

‘Being a QN is about people and inspiring excellence in nursing care. As nurses we are not always good at sharing that professional nursing narrative, but there is something special about being a QN that inspires you to be brave and stand up to champion people and the profession. You are never alone as a QN because we all champion each other.’

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