RCNi Nurse Awards 2019: ‘Mental health nurses deserve recognition’

We hope our roll-call of amazing nurses will inspire you to enter, or nominate a colleague 

We hope our roll-call of amazing nurses will inspire you to enter, or nominate a colleague 

The search for the best of the best in mental health nursing has begun, with the launch of the RCNi Nurse Awards 2019.

Nurses, students and healthcare assistants are invited to share their innovations and expertise while celebrating their contribution to making patient care better and improving outcomes.

Entries are open to individuals and teams and, as well as the Mental Health Practice Award, there are new categories for 2019 including Team of the Year, Excellence in Diabetes Care, and Skin and Wound Care.

Rebekah Bewsey (front, second from right) with the Brookside Adolescent Inpatient Unit team, winners of the Mental Health Practice Award 2018. Picture: Tim George

The Patient’s Choice category, which gives patients an opportunity to nominate a nurse or healthcare assistant who has made a difference to their lives, will be decided by a public vote.

The judging panel will be chaired by Yvonne Coghill, NHS England’s director of workforce race equality standard and newly elected RCN deputy president. The RCN fellow was made a CBE this year for her services to racial equality in the NHS.


Judging panel chair Yvonne Coghill
Picture: Barney Newman

Ms Coghill says: ‘I am delighted to have been invited to be chair of the judging panel for the RCNi Nurse Awards 2019.

‘Overseeing these prestigious awards is a privilege and honour and I very much look forward to reading the many wonderful nominations I know we will receive showcasing the hardworking and innovative nurses we have in the UK.’

The RCN Nurse of the Year 2019 will be announced at the awards ceremony in London on 3 July, chosen from the category winners.

All our winners and finalists testify to the huge difference the awards have made to them personally and professionally, and to their projects.

Unprecedented turnaround

The winners of the Mental Health Practice Award 2018 were a team from the Brookside Adolescent Inpatient Unit, part of North East London NHS Foundation Trust. Led by Rebekah Bewsey, they delivered an unprecedented turnaround of an unsafe unit for young people.

‘There were unknown ligature risks and high use of restraint: 459 in a 12-month period, including prone positions,’ says modern matron Ms Bewsey.

‘The ethos was containment not therapy. Care plans were neither recovery oriented nor holistic.’ 

The Care Quality Commission inspected and rated the trust inadequate.

But, with strong nurse leadership and a commitment from all to transform care for its young people, in 18 months the newly modernised Brookside Adolescent Inpatient Unit, supported by a 24/7 young people's home treatment team, had earned an outstanding rating. 

Special recognition

In 2018, for the first time, the judges announced a Special Recognition award. Mental health nurse and former boxer Mark Field impressed the judges with his decades of voluntary work helping thousands of adults and children with mental illness and behaviour problems improve their physical health through his boxing club. 

Mark Field's voluntary work won him special recognition. Picture: John Houlihan

Mr Field, who has a bipolar diagnosis, says: ‘I entered the awards to shine a light on the importance of helping people with mental illness improve their physical health and giving them a place to go in the community without any stigma.

‘My award has raised my work’s profile and I have had lots of emails about the work we do here – and an increase in referrals.

‘I would highly recommend people enter the awards’

Mark Field, RCN Special Recognition award winner

Ring of truth. ‘There are many nurses who are, like me, doing what they can for
their community and patients in their own time,' says Mark Field. Picture: John Houlihan

‘But I know there are many other nurses out there who are, like me, doing what they can for their community and patients in their own time. I would highly recommend they enter the awards as they deserve the recognition.’

He adds that the club had helped him too.

‘At one point people were trying to manage me out because of my diagnosis. But I went on to management. I showed them I can do it, but I know how difficult it is to keep on track.'

‘Wonderful experience’

Nasima Begum led the team that won the NHS England-sponsored Commitment to Carers category for its work supporting the carers of people with mental illness through a social hub in Tower Hamlets, London. The team, she says, found the awards process ‘a wonderful experience’.

She says she was nervous before presenting to the judging panel, but that they were ‘one of the nicest bunch of people I had come across’.  

And she enjoyed the awards ceremony in London. ‘The evening itself was exciting – the lavish dinner and getting dressed up – but most importantly being able to share those moments with some of the carers who joined us on the night… and the moment the winner was announced. Everyone’s reaction of joy was the highlight.

Nasima Begum says winning has given her more confidence when promoting her work with carers in east London. Picture: Nathan Clarke 

‘Winning definitely raised the profile of our Carers Hub almost immediately and it has given me more confidence when promoting my work with carers. And the higher profile has meant we are extending our work into other areas.’

Raised profile

The current holder of the RCN Nurse of the Year title is arrhythmia nurse specialist Angela Hall, who impressed the judges by leading the introduction at Jersey General Hospital of a new drug to treat rapid onset atrial fibrillation.

Angela Hall, RCN Nurse of the
Year 2018. Picture: George Gee

‘I highly recommend colleagues enter the RCNi Nurse Awards. Being named RCN Nurse of the Year 2018 has been massively rewarding in so many ways,' she says.

‘It has raised my profile and resulted in further achievements in my specialist field.’

Ms Hall was nominated by colleague Kellyanne Kinsella, who hoped ‘it would help her realise how amazing she is’.

Acknowledgement of work

But for Ms Hall raising the profile of arrhythmia and cardiology nursing is more important. She adds: ‘It has been exciting for Jersey.’

‘I have just been named States of Jersey employee of the year following on from the publicity and acknowledgement of my work and service developments.

‘I have also won an “AF Pioneers” award for the second time.

‘I am attending an event at the Palace of Westminster and I am going to Public Health England to meet its deputy chief nurse and professor in cardiovascular disease.’

The deadline for entries for the RCNi Nurse Awards is 1 February 2019.

The awards categories

  • Cancer Nursing
  • Child Health
  • Commitment to Carers
  • Community Nursing
  • Emergency Nursing
  • Excellence in Cancer Research
  • Excellence in Diabetes Care 
  • Healthcare Assistant 
  • Infection Prevention and Control 
  • Innovations in your Specialty
  • Leadership
  • Learning Disability Practice
  • Mental Health Practice
  • Nursing Older People
  • Patient’s Choice
  • Promoting Continence 
  • Respiratory Nursing 
  • Skin and Wound Care
  • Student Nurse 
  • Team of the Year 


Click here for more on the RCNi Nurse Awards 

Elaine Cole is editor, RCNi projects

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