Award in memory of “vibrant” junior doctor

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A new award set up in memory of “a vibrant, caring” junior doctor who died from cancer earlier this year will be given out at Walsall Manor Hospital this evening (Wednesday 3 July).

Dr Steph Clarke was born in the hospital and joined Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust in 2017 working in the Acute Medical Unit, Surgical Assessment Unit and hospital palliative care team. As well as her clinical role, the 28-year-old worked closely with groups in the wider community, supporting volunteers at a local foodbank and teaming up with the trust’s Well Wishers charity to help patients suffering hardship

She died from a rare form of cancer in March and Foundation Year doctors will vote to award a prize to the most professional, supportive and patient-orientated FY2 to both recognise and commemorate Dr Clarke’s contribution to healthcare in Walsall. The accolade will be given out at the trust’s Quality Improvement Academy awards evening where Medical Education will be celebrated and acknowledged.

Dr Matthew Lewis, Walsall Healthcare Medical Director said: “It’s hard to draw positives from the death of such a vibrant 28-year-old but the speeches from her school friends, university friends and work colleagues at her funeral showed what an invigorating influence Steph had on the people who were lucky enough to spend time with her.

“We heard that she was a bright student, who became a brilliant doctor. More than that, though, she displayed an exceptional desire to do as much as possible for her patients and colleagues.

“One story sticks out from talking to Steph’s surgical colleagues after the service. She was only meant to be working in the mornings (as she had recently undergone significant treatment) but she stayed until after 7pm to make sure that a man who was being discharged had provisions from a food bank and tokens for a new fridge. Needless to say, she cheerfully brushed aside any concerns for herself as she was determined to do everything that she could for this patient. Another story highlighted how she spent all day with a patient who could only communicate through blinking.

“Steph truly embodied our trust values of Respect, Compassion, Professionalism and Teamwork and an award in her memory seems a fitting tribute to someone who made such a positive impact here.”

Dr Esther Waterhouse, Consultant in Palliative Medicine and Director of Postgraduate Medical Education, added: “Steph was such a vibrant, caring person and an advocate for the patient through and through. She had her own health issues yet was constantly considering the needs of others.

“She was a tremendous asset to our trust as a whole as well as to her peer group and we will always miss her lovely smile and can do attitude. But her spirit lives on and being able to give an annual award to those following in her very impressive footsteps keeps her memory alive.”

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