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Nurse of the year award for nurse who made CAMHS more accessible to young ex-offenders

Emma McKinney wanted service users to experience seamless transition to community CAMHS once they leave custody

Emma McKinney wanted service users to experience seamless transition to community CAMHS once they leave custody


Award winner Emma McKinney, flanked by RCN Northern Ireland director Pat Cullen and broadcaster Sarah Travers. 

A nurse who transformed care for vulnerable young people leaving custody has been named RCN Northern Ireland nurse of the year 2019.

Specialist nurse practitioner Emma McKinney won the accolade for ensuring young people have timely access to community child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) once they leave a youth offender institution. These service users had been finding it difficult to access CAMHS, despite needing support for drug or alcohol misuse, homelessness and abuse.

Continuity of care

Now young people leaving Woodlands Juvenile Justice Centre in Bangor, county Down have support from their local CAHMS team because Ms McKinney's work addressed inadequate discharge planning and inconsistencies in service provision.

One service user's mother said Ms McKinney was the first person who listened to her son.

RCN Northern Ireland director Pat Cullen said: ‘Thanks to Emma, young people leaving custody can now receive care and support from their local trust CAMHS team, ensuring there is continuity of care and they receive the help they need,’ she said. ‘The impact this can have on their future cannot be underestimated.’

Recognition of excellence

Runner-up for the award was specialist community public health nurse Colette Johnston from Toomebridge in county Antrim. Ms Johnston was commended for integrating school and community public health nursing to meet pupils' needs.

Other nurses honoured were Macmillan Cancer Support clinical nurse Terry McVeigh, who won the Patient's Choice award, and sergeant Michael Donaldson who won the defence nurse reservist award.

Ms Cullen said despite the challenges nurses in Northern Ireland face, the profession remained committed to improving care for patients.


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