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Respiratory nurse named RCN in Wales Nurse of the Year

Cwm Taf University Health Board nurse recognised for early recognition and staff training work to tackle high mortality rates for chronic lung disease in parts of the Welsh valleys

‘It’s the ultimate recognition,’ says the 2017 RCN in Wales Nurse of the Year Louise Walby.

The respiratory nurse facilitator was almost lost for words as she received her award from RCN chief executive Janet Davies and Welsh cabinet secretary for health and social services Vaughan Gething at Cardiff City Hall on 15 November.


RCN in Wales Nurse of the Year Louise Walby (second from right) with (from left) TV presenter Jason Mohammad, Welsh cabinet secretary for health and social services Vaughan Gething and  
TV presenter Andrea Byrne. Picture: Huw John

Ms Walby was named RCN in Wales Nurse of the Year for her work tackling some of Britian’s highest mortality rates for chronic lung disease.  

In her work for Cwm Taf University Health Board, she sees patients across part of the Welsh valleys, an area with the fourth worst mortality rates in the UK for conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Early diagnosis

She helped to improve early recognition and intervention for high-risk patients, by delivering accredited training to improve the diagnosis of the conditions.

Ms Walby undertook an audit of the provision and standard of lung function tests in primary care across the health board, and visited 50 GP practices to work with practice nurses and doctors.

‘Education, training and investment in staff is something I am passionate about’

Louise Walby

After identifying deficiencies in training for spirometry, the tests used to diagnose conditions that affect lung function, and realising that existing accredited training did not meet the needs of general practice nurses, Ms Walby developed a new programme, reducing the time nurses had to spend away from their practice.

She gained accreditation for the course, which has been rolled out across Wales through the Respiratory Health Implementation Group.

Ms Walby, who also won the Primary Care Nursing award, told Nursing Standard: ‘I feel very honoured and privileged to receive these awards.

‘Education, training and investment in staff is something I am passionate about, so I can use this as a platform to push it even further.’

Combating loneliness

Aneurin Bevan University Health Board divisional nurse Tanya Strange was also recognised on the night, receiving a Lifetime Achievement award and the Innovation in Nursing award.

She was praised for her work on the ‘Ffrind i mi/Friend of Mine’ project, which sees charities, health and civic organisations working to reduce social isolation and loneliness.

Ms Strange said: ‘This is something that is nurse led, but that spreads across boundaries and is about the well-being of our population. It has created a real social movement, so members of our community are helping others.

‘I am very proud to be leading it and working with all our partners.’

Collecting the Lifetime Achievement award, Ms Strange declared she was not done yet. She is working on a ‘Pimp My Zimmer’ campaign to make sure walking frames are not grey or silver, as these colours can be difficult for some older people to see, and is also organising a conference next year and wants to work with the business community to promote public health.

Network of nurse leaders

The awards also saw the launch of an initiative called the RCN in Wales Nurse of the Year Alumni Network.

RCN Wales says the initiative will offer a pathway of personal and career development opportunities, and create a network of innovative nurse leaders who will promote nursing in Wales and further afield.

During the evening both RCN Wales director Tina Donnelly and RCN chief executive Janet Davies thanked nurses for their efforts during the Scrap the Cap campaign.

Ms Davies said: ‘I don’t like these occasions to be political, particularly as it is about celebration, but I’d like to say pride doesn’t pay the bills and I really hope we get a good settlement in the budget.’

Award winners

RCN in Wales Nurse of the Year

Louise Walby, respiratory nurse facilitator, Cwm Taf University Health Board

Lifetime Achievement award

Tanya Strange, divisional nurse, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board

Children and Midwifery award

Lynfa Day, paediatric respiratory and atopic clinical nurse specialist, Cwm Taf University Health Board.

Community Nursing award

Paul Crank, senior nurse, Cwm Taf University Health Board

Improving Individual and Population Health award

Hanka Roudnicka, ward manager, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board

Mental Health and Learning Disabilities award

Adele Watkins, clinical nurse specialist for children and young people in crisis, Children’s Hospital for Wales, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board.

Primary Care Nursing award

Louise Walby, respiratory nurse facilitator, Cwm Taf University Health Board

Suzanne Goodall Paediatric Award

Candice St John, lead nurse, Ty Hafan

Clinical Nurse Specialist award

Ann Parkes, lead nurse practitioner, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board

Older People’s Commissioner For Wales award

Bethan Andrews, Hywel Dda University Health Board

Health Care Support Worker award

Steven Evans-Jones, practitioner assistant, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board

Mentorship award

Pamela White, staff nurse, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board

Nurse Education award

Pamela Penman, practice development facilitator Wales, Marie Curie

Nursing Student award

Tyler Payne, student learning disabilities nurse, University of South Wales

Registered Nurse (Adult) award

Ann Robins, ward manager, Hywel Dda University Health Board

Chief Nursing Officer for Wales award

Suzanne Hardacre, head of midwifery and lead directorate nurse, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board

Innovation in Nursing award

Tanya Strange, divisional nurse, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board

Research in Nursing award

Nicola Evans, senior lecturer, Cardiff University


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