TOP Wirral nurse Julie Tunney has been awarded a prestigious leadership scholarship by the Florence Nightingale Foundation.

The Foundation - a living memorial to the 'Lady with the lamp' - was set up to support health professionals with scholarships and mentoring.

Its purpose is to help promote excellence in clinical practice as well as being able to meet changing health needs.

The select few who secure a leadership scholar (18 people in 2012/13) will work on a health related topic which will be published by the foundation.

Once published, it is hoped the work will encourage greater international understanding and learning for medical professionals and the patients they go on to care for.

Julie, an associate director of nursing at Wirral University Teaching Hospital, said she was delighted that the foundation had shown confidence in her.

She commented: "Over the next 18 months I will have the opportunity to experience the best training and guidance I could ever wish for. It really is an opportunity of a lifetime.

"I will travel to Westminster on a regular basis to meet with my scholarship mentor Lord Hunt who is the shadow spokesperson for health in the House of Lords.

"I will also have the opportunity to attend a bespoke leadership programme later this year at the world famous California Stanford Business School."

She went on: "I would really like to thank my colleagues at Wirral University Teaching Hospital for the support and encouragement they have shown, and I look forward to sharing my findings with the Florence Nightingale Foundation and my fellow nurses here in Wirral."

Julie had to go through a robust selection and interview process by the Foundation to gain her leadership scholarship.

Not only will she receive first hand leadership knowledge here in the UK and abroad, she will also work on a key health project for the hospital Trust to adopt and use.

Julie said: "The scholarship requires me to work on a patient project I can introduce here at Wirral University Teaching Hospital.

"This Trust continues to take enormous strides forward in the delivery of quality healthcare and I’m confident my piece of work will add greatly to this.

"I have decided to concentrate on a project that will introduce even greater compassion to our hospitals.

"Compassionate care is key for the wider landscape of the NHS, and I look forward to bringing the additional expertise I will gain from this project to our Wirral hospitals."

Julie will need to conclude her scholarship with the Florence Nightingale Foundation by April 2015.