Child health nursing: how to gain recognition for your improvements to patient care

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 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 and celebrate their contribution to making patient care better and improving outcomes.

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

Trudy Ward (centre) and her team at the Children and Young People’s Community
Service at Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust won the Child Health Award
Picture: Barney Newman

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 The Workforce Race Equality Standard. The RCN fellow was made CBE this year for her services to racial equality in the NHS.

Showcasing hard work

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 hard-working 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.

Service model and skill mix

Trudy Ward and the Children and Young People's Community Service at Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust won the Child Health Award in 2018. 

As head of children and young people community nursing service, Ms Ward developed a tool to improve the poor access to nursing care of 1,500 children and young people attending West Sussex special educational needs schools. 

‘We had gone through a change process and entering the awards was about valuing that and the way the staff have contributed’ 

Trudy Ward, winner of the Child Health award 2018

The nursing assessment tool has improved the service model and skill mix, enabling an increase from two to ten nurses supporting pupils with complex needs. 

Trudy Ward: ‘I wanted to put special school nursing on the agenda, which the 
Child Health award absolutely has.’  Picture: Sam Stephenson

Ms Ward entered her team to recognise its achievements. 

‘We had done a lot and some real innovation, and I planned with the matrons that we would go for an award,’ says Ms Ward.

‘So many staff have gone above and beyond to demonstrate that there has been a huge gap in services. We had gone through a change process and entering the awards was about valuing that and the way the staff have contributed. 

‘It was about remembering to share good stuff, but it was also to highlight children’s services and child health.’

Ms Ward was passionate about raising the profile of special school nurses and the importance of their role. 

‘I also wanted to put special school nursing on the agenda, which the Child Health award absolutely has. It has raised our profile,’ she says. 

‘I receive an email from someone at least once a week – local authorities, headteachers, care commissioning groups and nurse practitioners – wanting a conference call.

‘We are being asked to speak at conferences, which is great because we can share the learning. And the awards night itself was a fantastic experience.’

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 the special recognition. Picture: John Houlihan

Mr Field, who himself 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 absolutely raised my work’s profile and I have had lots of emails about the work we do here – and an increase in referrals.

‘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 recommend they enter the awards as they deserve the recognition too.’

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’.

Publicity and acknowledgement

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