Published on: 19 January 2021

A respiratory nurse at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust has been awarded a silver Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) award for her work to make nursing a career of choice for people with disabilities, particularly those with hearing impairment or deafness.

Joanne Mohammed, who herself has been profoundly deaf since the age of 6, was awarded the prestigious accolade after being nominated for her work to create a culture of inclusion to ensure every member of staff has a voice and visibility. She has worked at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust for over 20 years, and currently works as a Patient Flow Matron.

The Chief Nursing and Chief Midwifery Officer awards have been developed to reward the significant and outstanding contribution made by nurses and midwives in England, and their exceptional contribution to nursing and midwifery practice.

The silver CNO award recognises performance that goes above and beyond the expectations of the everyday role, and those who demonstrate excellence in clinical practice; education, research, patient and carer experience, leadership, tackling diversity and health inequalities.

Upon winning the award, Joanne said:

“Having a disability, as I am deaf, has not been without its challenges. I have had to continuously adapt and find solutions which enable me to function in the hearing world. Fortunately, technological advances in recent years have made life so much easier for me in my working day as a nurse. I am passionate about inclusion, accepting our differences and creating workplaces in which people can be the best version of themselves. I am overwhelmed at receiving the Silver Award and would like to say thank you to Bev Matthews and Helen Bevan for nominating me, and for their guidance, inspiration and support over the last couple of years.”

When Joanne began her nursing career she experienced feelings of exclusion and detrimental comments regarding her deafness and ability to do her job. From this, she was driven to make nursing a career of choice for people with disabilities, especially those with hearing impairments or deafness.

Since then, she has led on an inclusion project across East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, and has visited both local and national primary and secondary schools to share her experiences and inspire a future generation of nurses.

She has also established a national network of hearing impaired and deaf nurses, and has contributed to the design of an NHS England and Improvement national diversity conference.

Bev Matthews, Clinical Transformation Lead and Virtual Collaboration Cell Lead at NHS Horizons, nominated Joanne for the award. She said:

"I wanted to nominate Joanne for a CNO award as she has been an inspiration to work with. Joanne has transformed the perceptions of those who are deaf or hard of hearing to believe that they can consider a career in health and care. She is a nurse who shows natural leadership, supporting those who are marginalised by creating opportunities and driving behaviours to make the changes necessary to tackle exclusion. I am so pleased that she has received this award as it couldn't go to a more deserving person."