In 2019, there was one BHF Alliance Award, which honoured a true pioneer of cardiovascular care, Lynda Blue.
The Pioneer Award was presented at a ceremony on Tuesday 4 June 2019 at the British Cardiovascular Society (BCS) Annual Conference 2019 in Manchester.
BHF Alliance members joined BCS members to see the award being presented to Yvonne Millerick, Lynda’s family friend and peer, and BHF Alliance member.
Lynda Blue was instrumental to improving heart failure care through the course of her career. While practicing as a research nurse in Glasgow in the 1990s, she was the first to suggest that specialist nurses would improve the health of people with the condition.
The clinical trial she led and published in 2001 proved this, showing that patients who received care from specially trained nurses had a shorter hospital stay and were less likely to be readmitted to hospital.
“We quite simply would not have many of the services for heart failure in place today had it not been for Lynda's work,” said Jemima Traill, Clinical Development Coordinator (CDC) at the BHF. “She was a natural leader whose enthusiasm, passion and determination to provide the best care for people with heart failure was visible to all.”
Her work led the BHF to fund 76 heart failure specialist nurses across the UK, who helped to care for around 15,000 people. Lynda’s legacy has only grown since then - there are now thought to be 532 full-time-equivalent heart failure specialist nurses practicing in the UK, according to charity Pumping Marvellous.
When Lynda joined the BHF in 2006, she continued to drive forward the improvement of cardiovascular care in the UK. The best practice portfolio she developed continues to be held as the gold standard for heart failure services. Work is still ongoing to spread the adoption of IV diuretics as a community service.
Lynda was one of the main driving forces behind the Caring Together programme, jointly funded by the BHF and Marie Curie to improve end-of-life care for heart failure patients.
“My memory of Lynda was her passion and drive to improve the quality of life for people with heart failure – she looked across the whole pathway from diagnosis to bereavement, innovating and leading improvement at all stages,” said Iain Armstrong, Programme Manager at BHF Scotland.
Not only did she transform care for patients, Lynda was regarded as an inspiration to many of her colleagues. Morven Dunn, BHF CDC, said: “I first met Lynda when we were both working as nurses in Glasgow. She told me about her innovative research on specialist nurses for heart failure and it seemed so visionary and innovative. Although it was clearly effective, I thought, like many others, ‘that’s never going to happen’, as it seemed almost too wonderful! However, as we know, it was an incredible success thanks to her, and has been replicated around the world.
“Later on in my career, when I had an idea about setting up nurse specialist services for atrial fibrillation, I met people who had a similar attitude to my work. I thought back to Lynda’s heart failure work in Glasgow and realised that as nurses we can be a huge influence on improving and innovating service delivery. Lynda improved patient care and so can all of us,” Morven said.
Lynda’s daughter Natalie said: “My mum’s contribution to nursing and the heart failure world was much bigger than she ever let on, but that’s what made her the person she was. She was so kind, caring and compassionate, not only as a mum but throughout her career, and was driven by patients getting the best care they could receive. I’m extremely grateful and proud to have had Lynda Blue as a mum.”
To find out about the BHF’s ongoing work on heart failure that Lynda set in motion, see our page on heart failure specialist nurses.