Victoria Kurrein, Care UK’s regional service manager for HMP Grendon and Springhill, has received a prestigious Butler Trust commendation from Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, Patron of The Butler Trust, at a ceremony held in St James’s Palace.
The Butler Trust Awards, launched in 1985 in memory of the reforms introduced by former Home Secretary Rab Butler, celebrate outstanding creativity, dedication and skill by people working in correctional settings across the UK. This year the trust received more than 300 nominations and trustees granted only 10 awards and 20 commendations in total.
Victoria said: “Going to St. James’s Palace was an unforgettable experience. From arriving just as the guards were marching past to going through the door in front of all the tourists, to chatting with Princess Anne over cucumber sandwiches and scones, it was a really special day. We were treated to canapés before the actual ceremony when we went on stage to get our certificates from the Princess before afternoon tea with the assorted 200 or so guests.
“Princess Anne has a genuine interest in prisons and the work of the Butler Trust and she showed a personal interest as well as giving so much of her time. I rounded off the day with a champagne celebration with my family and friends, including some of the HMP Grendon nurses. It was a perfect day.”
Victoria was nominated by colleague John Steele. He said: “Since Victoria’s appointment, she has worked hard at developing relationships with the prison team, senior management and the various other healthcare providers in HMP Grendon and Springhill. Clinical governance arrangements are now much improved and Care UK engages fully and openly with the Partnership Board. Victoria has a comprehensive understanding of the work being done by her team and they in turn are very aware of the standards she expects them to achieve.
“The changes Victoria has brought about over the past few years are also recognised by prisoners and external bodies. Whilst reports from 2009 and 2011 raised concerns about the healthcare provision, the most recent HMIP report from 2013 describes a much healthier position and concluded that patient care was good and nurses knew their patients.”
One prisoner commented that he had never experienced such good healthcare in any other establishment. In a note of thanks, another described the team delivering healthcare at HMP Grendon as “absolutely excellent” adding a remarkable comment: “It’s been a joy to be ill!”
Governor Jamie Bennett points out that the measure of Victoria’s contribution lies in the outcomes she’s achieved. “In just three years she has completely transformed the situation and the healthcare service has now been recognised by the Inspectorate of Prisons, Care Quality Commission and Independent Monitoring Board as very good and an example of excellence.
“This is an extraordinary achievement and one that would be beyond the ability of most managers. To see the positive, engaged, energetic, committed team that is now in place it is clear that Victoria has not only ensured that the basics are in place but that there is a flourishing culture of care.
“Yet she is a modest person, who has quietly got along with the job, absorbing the brickbats and criticism that come with taking over a failing service, painstakingly putting in place procedures, establishing excellent relationships and then unleashing the best instincts of the staff to create a highly performing team. I am full of admiration, respect and gratitude for what Victoria has contributed.”
Victoria added: “I took over the management of the primary healthcare services at HMP Grendon and Springhill in 2011 during a period of change and instability. I have established a stable team and we are now fully staffed with low turnover and minimal absence rates. We have three permanent GPs and have built a team of nurses to include a skills mix to deliver the range of services that our prisoners need, including long-term conditions, diabetes, smoking cessation and wellman clinics.
“I have developed patient involvement through healthcare representative meetings. In HMP Grendon each wing has a representative who attends monthly meetings. We consult our representatives on any changes and new initiatives and they are also able to bring any concerns to us. We have some excellent patient feedback from our experience surveys.”
Ross Dowsett, service director for Health in Justice at Care UK, said: “I’m incredibly proud of Victoria receiving a Butler Trust commendation and it shows how remarkable her achievements have been for us in the Bucks Prison Cluster. Through her hard work and dedication she has transformed the healthcare service at the three prisons and has the full confidence of the senior leadership at the sites – they have been so impressed with her leadership that they nominated her to the Butler Trust.
“The healthcare service has now been recognised by the Inspectorate of Prisons, Care Quality Commission and Independent Monitoring Board as very good and an example of excellence. This is a great accolade. Congratulations Victoria.”
Care UK is the largest independent provider of healthcare within the justice system.