Nurse of the Year winner has transformed care for people with learning disabilities

The top accolade in the 2017 RCNi Nurse Awards has gone to Melanie Davies for her work championing the well-being of people with learning disabilities.

Melanie Davies
RCN Nurse of the Year and Learning Disability Practice Award winner Melanie Davies (centre) at work. Picture: Stephen Shepherd

Ms Davies, who becomes the RCN Nurse of the Year, also won the Learning Disability Practice Award category, sponsored by NHS England.

She was presented with her awards during a gala ceremony at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel on Friday night.

Ms Davies works as a ward sister for the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board at Morriston Hospital in Swansea.

Instrumental role

She has played an instrumental role in transforming care for those with learning disabilities (LD) since the death of a patient in 2009, shortly after she joined.

An ombudsman gave a highly critical report into Paul Ridd's death, concluding that neglect and poor training were factors in his passing.

Ms Davies has worked alongside Mr Ridd's family in their campaign to improve LD care in the NHS through the Paul Ridd Foundation ever since.

Unwavering support

His brother, Jonathan Ridd, said: 'Melanie proved to be a source of unwavering support and inspiration. Having a close family member with an LD herself, Melanie was empathetic to our cause. She has gone above and beyond her professional role, to ensure patients receive the level of hospital care they deserve.

'On a daily basis, she strives to ensure reasonable adjustments are made, actioned and implemented to safeguard patients with an LD.'

Ms Davies trains all staff to recognise the individual and involve patients, their carers and families in all planning and decision-making. She builds relationships with new LD liaison nurses and her work has been credited as making discharge safer. 

In her own time Ms Davies developed information packs for the nurse team and her work has seen such success it is now being replicated across NHS Wales.

Never again

'Never again on my ward, in my hospital, in my health board: that's what I resolved and I felt it in my heart,' says RCN Nurse of the Year 2017 Melanie Davies. 'I have driven it and made it real. I made a promise to Paul's family that no other patient or family would experience the poor care that he sadly received.'

Further information

For the full story on Ms Davies’ work, and on the other finalists for the Learning Disability Practice Award, click here.

For a round up of all the winners, finalists and coverage of the night’s events, go to RCNi’s Nurse Awards home page.

The RCNi Nurse Awards

The RCNi Nurse Awards are the profession’s top accolade for nursing excellence. They recognise and reward nurses who have come up with new ways to improve health outcomes, enhance patient experiences and transform nursing practice. The awards provide a fantastic opportunity to share nursing initiatives, raise the profile of nursing, gain national recognition and influence nursing policy and practice.

Look out for details of how to enter the 2018 awards!


The Nurse of the Year award is sponsored by the RCN