Health Heroes: Nurse’s pride at NHS award

Heather McVicars. Picture: Malcolm McCurrach
Heather McVicars. Picture: Malcolm McCurrach
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A NATTER over a cup of tea, or a quick phone call to check in is quite normal behaviour between friends.

And for research nurse Heather McVicars it is second nature to go the extra mile for her patients, which led to her scooping the Lothian Health Hero award last year following a nomination from patient Lynn Mellon.

Lynn was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012 and signed up to clinical trials that Heather was helping to run at the Western General Hospital.

“There were times when I just wanted to give up and I could phone her or she’d phone me and we’d just blether,” Lynn said.

“One minute, you could be sitting on ward one getting your treatment and the tears are running down your face because you don’t want to be doing it.

“The next thing, she’s got you killing yourself laughing.”

The initiative, backed by the Evening News for the fourth year running, hopes to shine a spotlight on the thousands of unsung heroes in the NHS.

Heather, 41, was stunned to win the award but very pleased to receive the accolade from one of her patients.

She said: “The fact that Lynn had nominated me made me feel very special, that someone had acknowledged that I do work very hard.

“As a nurse, I think sometimes people don’t tell you how they feel about what you are doing.

“It is great when a patient actually lets you know that something has helped them.”

The mum-of-two, who hails from Dunfermline, said: “When they said my name it was just incredible. I don’t do it for any other reason than because I care about my patients.

“My kids were extremely proud when I told them, and it is nice to be able to show them that the reason I couldn’t make it home to dinner one day or the other was becasue I was helping people and the other person really valued it.”

Members of the public can nominate any staff member who has gone the extra mile, and Heather urged people to put forward submissions for the award.

She added: “I’m sure the next winner will be very worthy as there are so many great people working in the NHS.”

A year on from winning, Heather continues to work in her beloved job, which she said was a “privilege” to do.

She said: “You get to know people really well. If they are unwell they have to call us but you sometimes end up calling the patient yourself.

“If I thought that Lynn 
was a bit down one day then I might think ‘I should give her a call to check up on her next week’.”

n To nominate your Health Hero, please download a form at or call 0131-465 5645.

Nomination forms can also be posted to The Celebrating Success Team, NHS Lothian, Waverley Gate, 2-4 Waterloo Place, Edinburgh, EH1 3EG.

The deadline for entries is April 10.