A nurse based at Southampton General Hospital has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for her services to vulnerable adults.
Sarah Charters, a consultant nurse and emergency department mental health lead at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, is among more than 60 NHS staff recognised for their achievements.
Sarah has played a significant role in increasing the availability of specialist mental healthcare in the emergency department, which sees around 450 patients a month who require help for mental health or substance use problems.
She has introduced a vulnerable adult support team (VAST) which works alongside clinicians and mental health professionals from 8am to 10pm seven days a week to manage issues such as domestic abuse, homelessness and substance use, all of which may trigger a mental health crisis.
The development was named one of the trust’s areas of outstanding practice by the Care Quality Commission during an inspection across the organisation in 2015.
Last year, Sarah helped to secure £300,000 from the Department of Health to fund two specialist assessment rooms for patients with disturbed behaviour due to mental illness or substance use.
The rooms contain specialist features to keep patients safe and can accommodate adults or children. They will also be used for those who need a quiet and confidential space to cope with a mental health crisis.
Alongside her work in Southampton, Sarah has served in the Armed Forces and was made an Associate of the Royal Red Cross in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2008 for her service to 4626 Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron as a senior nursing officer.
She has served in Saudi Arabia (1991), Cyprus and Iraq (2003) and Afghanistan (2007 and 2010) and was named best reservist in The Sun’s military awards in 2010 for leading a team of medics running the emergency department at Camp Bastion, which treated more than 2,000 casualties in three-and-a-half months.
“It is a privilege to receive this award and I feel honoured that the work my colleagues and I have undertaken to improve acute hospital services for vulnerable patients has received such recognition,” said Sarah.
“I am always delighted when any opportunity arises to focus on the important work being carried out in Southampton and, ultimately, my hope is that we can share the good news about what we are doing with other acute hospital trusts so the work we are doing has a wider impact.”
Gail Byrne, director of nursing at UHS, said: “I can’t think of anyone more deserving of such recognition than Sarah.
“What she has achieved for vulnerable patients in Southampton, as well as within the military, demonstrates her outstanding commitment to the profession.”
Posted on Saturday 9 June 2018