Retired nurse from Swindon in the running for lifetime achievement award

By Jessica Durston - 4 April 2023


A neonatal nurse from Swindon who retired earlier this year has been nominated for a national lifetime achievement award, and local people can show their support for her with their votes.

Toni Starr, who started in the field of neonatal nursing in 1971, and spent much of her 52-year career working at Princess Margaret and Great Western Hospitals, is a finalist for the Skills for Health Our Health Heroes Awards.

Among her many achievements, Toni is credited with transforming neonatal nursing from a relatively new speciality in UK hospitals into the well-respected career path that it is today.

Dr Sarah Bates, Consultant Paediatrician and Neonatologist at Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “Back in the 1970s, neonatology was a very new speciality, and there wasn’t much research or a body of knowledge in the field at the time.

“Toni has led by example in bringing about this change, such is her passion for clinical research and dedication to improving the quality of care for mothers and their babies."

Toni has been instrumental in using data to improve care for hundreds if not thousands of patients, say colleagues.

In recent years, Toni has applied her data analysis and quality improvement skills to the field of perinatal optimisation - the process of delivering evidence-based interventions before, during and after pregnancy.

Neonatal Sister Toni was also the founding member of neoPremQI, a perinatal optimisation pathway project in Swindon that later became the regional, widely recognised and award-winning project PERIPrem, which is now being implemented across Wales, and inspiring teams across the UK, Europe and further afield.

Dr Bates added: “Over this amazingly long career, she has shown the most incredible dedication and commitment to neonatal nursing.

“The babies, and the neonatal unit have, by Toni’s admission, been the central focus of her life.”

Members of the public can show their support for Toni by casting their vote at

The Skills for Health Our Health Heroes Awards is sponsored by Unison, NHS England, NHS Employers and more.

Gold, silver and bronze Lifetime Contribution Award winners will be announced at a ceremony held in London on 7 June.

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