Zim-born Dorcas Gwata among three finalists for UK’s Best Nurse award; hundreds of “incredible nurses” nominated across the country

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By UK Correspondent & Agencies

ZIMBABWE born Dorcas Gwata is among the three finalists for this years ‘Who Cares Wins Award’ which honours the ‘Best Nurse’ in the country and is organised by a leading UK publication in partnership with NHS Charities Together and The National Lottery.

The winner will be honoured at a star-studded ceremony being hosted by Davina McCall and screened on Channel 4 and All 4 on November 27 at 6.30pm.

“We received hundreds of nominations for incredible nurses across the country – and would love to crown every single one a winner for their tireless work – but three have been selected for our shortlist,” said The Sun newspaper.

The other finalists are Joanne Dickinson and Doreen Robinson.

About Dorcas Gwata …

Gwata started her career aged 21 as a hospital cleaner, before becoming a healthcare assistant and then a mental health nurse.

She has overseen a special public health project working with young people involved in gangs, knife-crime and exploitation.

Inspired by volunteering in her native Zimbabwe, she used the ‘street clinic approach’, an innovative method of engaging vulnerable young people wherever they were.

Dorcas, 52, said: “Community engagement and collaborative working is incredibly important in achieving better health outcomes.

“Sometimes I bump into them in the market or street, they are always polite and cultured in their interactions with me – a side of them that society does not always see.”

Dorcas is a Psychiatric Liaison Nurse, working out of the A&E department at St Mary’s Hospital, in Paddington, London.

Dorcas started working in a hospital as a cleaner before going on to become a nurse

Dorcas started working in a hospital as a cleaner before going on to become a nurseCredit: Stewart Williams

But in 2013, she was asked to oversee the Westminster Integrated Gang Unit project, working with young people involved in gangs and knife-crime.

She said: “I looked at the trauma and impact of violence on young people.

“A lot was influenced by inequalities – many of the young people came from black and minority ethnic groups and communities affected by poverty.”

Then, in 2015, she was given a grant from the Florence Nightingale Foundation to travel to her home country of Zimbabwe to work on a HIV programme, helping patients become more engaged with mental health services.

Dorcas said: “When I got back I wanted to see how we could get our community more engaged with mental health.

“We applied those lessons to London, using a street clinic approach.

“I didn’t work in an office – I’d wear trainers and jeans and engage with people wherever they were – in McDonald’s, on street corners or in prison.

“One girl came from three generations who had never worked. There was a very strong history of criminality and drug-use.

“She took an overdose, and I helped her. It took a lot of work and she needed a lot of help.

“Now, she now works in the City. We broke the cycle. Her children, and her children’s children, will see the possibilities because their mother worked. It makes me really proud.”

Now her hard work has been rewarded after she was nominated for the Best Nurse award by her colleague, Consultant Perinatal Psychiatrist Dr Maddalena Miele.

Dr Miele said: “As soon as I met Dorcas, she struck me as someone who really thinks outside of the box.

“She understands the barrier that some women from ethnic minorities face when trying to access healthcare services and she has made it her mission to provide them with better psychiatric care.

“The model she developed will inform policy and change how mental health professionals work with these vulnerable individuals.”

Dorcas, who is also a global health consultant, campaigning and advising to improve health inequalities worldwide, says she is incredibly proud to be a nurse.

She said: “I love the intimate therapeutic relationship that we can develop with our patients. Nurses are at the beginning and at the end of life. We are the constant, we are always there.”