A SELFLESS nurse who was separated from her children for three months when she returned to the frontline to help tackle the coronavirus outbreak is among the heroes who have been nominated for the Swindon and Wiltshire Health & Social Care Awards.

Samantha Backway, from Old Town, had stepped back from the wards for more than 10 years, running instead the Great Western Hospital’s Sleep Service when the pandemic hit. Without any hesitation or concern for her own welfare, she threw herself into the fray, lending overwhelmed NHS staff her expertise in respiratory care.

In awe of her courage, determination and self-sacrifice, her husband Phil has now put her forward for the Good Nurse Award.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald:

Sam in her surgical scrubs Picture: SUBMITTED

“Separated from her children for the first three months to protect them, she devoted herself wholeheartedly to looking after patients suffering from Covid,” said Phil. “She took the longer days, increased hours and huge pressure in her stride and didn’t let it get in the way of the charitable work she does for Hope to Sleep, a charity for which she is the chairman.

“As the weeks turned into months and the stress mounted, Sam never once complained and was a rock to so many.”

Determined not to let non-Covid medical emergencies and care services take a back seat, Samantha, who in 2017 was voted GWH patients’ favourite staff member, returned to and overhauled the hospital’s sleep apnoea clinic, launching a drive-through service for 5,500 people and working round the clock in all weather and, on occasion, in sub-zero temperatures.

Beyond her medical expertise, it is her compassion towards her critically-ill charges, her willingness and ability to offer them much-needed comfort and lend a sympathetic ear that make Samantha stand out as a natural and truly outstanding caregiver, Phil believes.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald:

Sam was nominated by husband Phil Picture: SUBMITTED

“It’s on the personal side of patient care where Sam never fails to amaze me,” he added.

“She continually delivered dignified washing and bathing to those unable to do it themselves, feeding and generally making patients comfortable with a joke or two. She would sit and listen to the concerns of those in her care. She would arrange extra pillows or cups of tea at a moment’s notice.

“Knowing that families could not come in, Sam sat and held the hands of those who were taking their last breaths because that was what needed to be done.

“There was one time when a mother and son where both admitted with Covid-19 but where in separate areas. This caused a lot of stress for them both. Sam managed to arrange for them to see each other and spend some time together before unfortunately, only the son recovered and went home.”

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald:

Sam, like many in the NHS, were retrained to work with covid patients during the pandemic Picture: SUBMITTED

Phil hopes this nomination will not only open the public’s eyes to his wife’s extraordinary achievements, but that she herself will realise how appreciated she is. She has had the upheaval of Covid, being redeployed on three separate occasions but she takes it all in her stride and just gets on with doing what needs to be done,” he went on. “This woman has been a rock for so many but refuses to acknowledge her brilliance as she sees it as ‘just doing my bit’. I would love for her to see herself as I do.”

To nominate your local healthcare heroes for an award, which we’re running in partnership with Wasdell Group, go to swindonadvertiser.co.uk/awards. All nominees should be willing to be featured in the paper and online and have their picture taken, if required.