Amanda Burston, who spearheaded a domestic violence service in an emergency department, has been named RCN Nurse of the Year.

Amanda Burston

Amanda Burston named RCN Nurse of the Year. Picture credit: John Houlihan

She won the overall award from the Nursing Standard Nurse Awards 2015 for her innovative work with the Safer Steps service, which has helped more than 400 victims of abuse since it started three years ago.

On winning the award, Ms Burston said: ‘It’s overwhelming. It sounds corny but it is not about me, it is about the victims of domestic abuse. It is the one in four women and one in six men who experience domestic abuse. It is 750,000 children that witness domestic abuse in their homes.

‘It is a privilege seeing all the winners that have gone before me. I don’t know how the judges can pick a winner. It must be difficult and I am really grateful.’

The Safer Steps service allows people to report abuse and seek help, and includes extensive training for all staff at Royal Stoke University Hospital.

‘The training includes recognising domestic violence, its signs and symptoms, and giving staff tools to help,’ said Ms Burston. ‘My role is to facilitate this training and keep the profile of domestic abuse on the agenda of all staff in the emergency department.’

An unexpected consequence of the awareness raising and training sessions was that staff members personally affected by domestic violence began to come forward.

‘Hospital staff confided their own stories of abuse and have received support. The number of disclosures was something we had not anticipated. It was quite alarming,’ said Ms Burston.

She added: ‘Before the programme, we did not appreciate how many staff had suffered from domestic abuse.’

A range of discreet measures, such as posters and badges worn by staff that say ‘you can ask me about domestic violence’ were introduced to encourage victims to seek help.

Amanda Burston was announced as winner at a ceremony held at The Savoy hotel in London on Friday May 1.

The trust’s chief nurse Liz Rix said: ‘Amanda has shown a real dedication to helping the people she works with and raising awareness of domestic violence with colleagues across the trust, which is committed to supporting victims of domestic violence.’

View a photo gallery of Amanda Burston and the Safer Steps team

Click here for the full list of Nursing Standard Nurse Awards winners

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