Local doctor recognised in King's New Year's Honours for making NHS a safer place

A South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust consultant has been recognised in the King's New Year's Honours.
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A doctor working for South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust has been recognised in the King's New Year's Honours 2024.

Consultant Urologist Alice Hartley, who specialises in renal and prostate cancer at Sunderland Royal Hospital, has been awarded an MBE for her pioneering work dealing with bullying and undermining in surgery.

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Hartley became the chair of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh's Anti Undermining and Bullying Campaign in 2016 and it runs under the hashtag #letsremoveit.

Alice Hartley has been awarded an MBE.Alice Hartley has been awarded an MBE.
Alice Hartley has been awarded an MBE.

It works to address the issue in surgery, which in turn impacts on performance and patient safety. It not only empowers people to address such behaviour, but aims to help people realise their own tone, language and actions can make others feel upset and overshadow their work.

Hartley said: “When I found out about the MBE I was completely shocked. I’ve had the last six weeks of being anonymous because it has to be kept a secret and I’ve quite enjoyed knowing without it being public.

“I’m struggling a bit to come to terms with the news, but I want to thank everyone who has helped in this work and especially my husband, who has been a great help when I’ve needed to be in Edinburgh or had work to focus on. I do feel very honoured, but aware there are a huge number of deserving candidates."

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Alice started her medical career with the RAF, leaving so she could fulfil her ambitions to become a surgeon.

She trained King’s College London followed by jobs at James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, The Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, Gartnavel General Hospital and the Western General Hospital in Glasgow, Ayr Infirmary and Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle.

“This campaign really has been a team effort, so I want to use this as a chance to celebrate the role of everyone who has been involved it in and take it as an opportunity to highlight our work," Hartley continued. “I want to use this to raise awareness and let others who work in surgery the campaign is there. We’ll be rolling out this one-day course to other Trusts so it can make a difference."

Away from work, she is a mum-of-four and is married to Simon Ellis, a Consultant in Infectious Diseases who is based at Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital.

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“We know from the NHS Staff Survey that at least one in five people in surgery witness bullying, which means that high numbers of people are likely to be responsible for it. We need to look at this issue and make a change.”

The honours comes in the wake of the prestigious Hunter Doig Medal from the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh in recognition of her contribution to excellence in surgery, specifically career potential and ambition.

It also noted her high standards of good surgical practice, clinical excellence, ongoing contribution to education and training, clinically-based research and audit and laboratory research.

She was also recently successful in becoming a Clinical Champion for Prostate Cancer UK. The programme is the charity’s flagship improvement programme to identify future clinical leaders so they can help deliver improvements to care.

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The Trust’s Chief Executive Ken Bremner – himself awarded an MBE in 2018 in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for his services to NHS leadership – said: “This is wonderful news for Alice, our Urology team and for our Trust.

“Alice has already done a remarkable amount in her short time with us as a consultant and is another shining example of why our Urology team is now one of the best in the country.

“Her work with the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and the campaign she has worked on is right to be praised.