Celebrating excellence in nursing leadership

Nursing Mangement welcomes nominations from senior nurses for the RCNi Nurse Awards 2018 to recognise and celebrate staff who are finding new ways to put patients at the heart of care.


Nursing Mangement welcomes nominations from senior nurses for the RCNi Nurse Awards 2018 to recognise and celebrate staff who are finding new ways to put patients at the heart of care.


The search for the best of the best in the nursing profession is underway with the launch of the RCNi Nurse Awards 2018, the profession’s top accolade.

The RCNi Nurse Awards celebrate nursing excellence, offering nurses, midwives, health visitors, students and support workers a chance to nominate a colleague or team for their outstanding contribution to care, or share their own excellent practice. The deadline for entries to the 15 categories, which includes the Nursing Management-supported Leadership Award, is 9 February 2018. The category attracts entries from a wide range of specialties and across all care settings.

‘Extreme leadership’

The winners in 2017, 5-19 clinical lead Susie Scales and immunisation coordinator Amy Sims designed, implemented and evaluated a county-wide school-age immunisation service for Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation Trust within a very short timescale.

Amy & Susie
Left to right: Public Health England deputy chief nurse and RCNi Nurse Awards judge Joanne Bosanquet, award winners Amy Sims
and Susie Scales, and TV presenter and 2017 awards host Kate Garraway. Picture: Barney Newman

The ‘amazing nurses’ were nominated by their then manager Helen Cooper for the ‘extreme leadership’ they displayed when developing the service with no trained staff, resources, equipment or office space, and bringing an entire team and wider partners with them on their journey.

Ms Scales says winning the 2017 Leadership Award has been ‘a great experience’.

‘It has given us opportunities outside of our current role,’ she says. ‘And meeting the other finalists was a great opportunity to network and see their fantastic work. It was a great inspiration to hear all that is being done and made us proud to be part of the day and night.’

Winning the award has attracted interest locally and been covered in the press, Nursing Standard and Nursing Management. They have also joined the Nursing Management editorial advisory board.

‘Amy and I are very excited to be part of this,’ says Ms Scales. ‘We won this award jointly but we represented the school-age immunisation team, who have done a fantastic job at continuing to increase uptake. It gave them a boost to continue that fantastic work with pride and commitment and strive to do better.’

The winners of the 2018 awards will be announced on 4 July at a ceremony at the Westminster Park Plaza Hotel, London, where the prestigious RCN Nurse of the Year, chosen from the category winners, will be announced.

Raising awareness

Melanie Davies, a ward sister at Morriston Hospital, Swansea, was named RCN Nurse the Year 2017 for her work, after the death of a patient on her ward, to improve care for people with learning difficulties in acute settings.

Her care bundle and champions programme have been implemented throughout Wales.

She says: ‘I am still a bit overwhelmed by having won as I feel I was just doing my job. It is such an honour. It has given me experiences that other nurses would not have.’

Ms Davies has especially valued the chance to raise awareness of the challenges faced by people with learning disabilities in acute settings and help healthcare professionals address them.

She has discussed her work with senior politicians in Wales and England, including health minister Vaughan Gething, first minister Carwyn Jones and chief nursing officer for Wales Jean White. She recently attended a lobbying event in parliament with the RCN.

She has also been among the guest speakers at conferences and been invited to deliver teaching sessions to a range of care professionals.

‘It has been fantastic highlighting how hospital staff can transform care for people with learning disabilities,’ she says.

Benefits of success

Managers who have nominated outstanding members of their teams also see the benefits of success at the RCNi Nurse Awards.

NHS Grampian chief nurse Caroline Clark nominated the 2017 Child Health Award winner Drew Mcdonald after being impressed by the senior staff nurse’s dedication, commitment and enthusiasm to improving sepsis recognition at the Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital (RACH).

‘He often came in on his days off to present at meetings and much of the work was carried out in his own time. He is very humble about his achievements.’

‘Drew has become a more confident practitioner and his achievements have had a positive impact on the team. He is very keen to stress it was very much about the team and that he couldn’t have done it without their support.

‘Drew continues to present at events as a result of his award. Having our nurse leaders present successful project work nationally and internationally is a fantastic reflection on NHS Grampian and RACH. It ensures we are at the forefront of improvement work, as well as telling NHS Grampian's own story about the positive values and culture within its nursing and nurse leadership.’

Momentum and confidence

Sharon Foy led the secondary breast cancer specialist team from the Christie NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester, which won the Cancer Nursing Practice Award in 2017. She entered the team to celebrate its achievements and to raise the profile of secondary breast-cancer care as well as the needs of people in this patient group.

Sharon Foy (second left) and team receiving their award. Picture: Mark Houlihan

‘It does not have the same profile as primary breast cancer,’ she says. ‘We went to parliament to present our service as an example of how to focus on secondary breast cancer and lobby MPs. People from around the country want to come and see what we are doing.’

Winning, she adds, has helped the service go on developing. ‘It gives you momentum and the confidence to take those next steps. And it cemented us as a team and reinforced our sense of shared goals. Nursing is never just one person, but a team drawing on each other’s strengths.’

Leadership Award winner Ms Scales will definitely be nominating colleagues this year. ‘It is such a great opportunity,’ she adds. ‘We do not shout loudly enough about the fantastic job we are doing looking after our patients and clients.’

Click here for more information and to enter

RCNi editorial advisory board chair Caroline Shuldham’s top tips for entering the Nurse Awards


The main features of all the finalists for 2017 has been that patients are at the centre of their work and that they demonstrate a strong commitment to their projects.  

The effect on patients is fundamental, for example when using a sepsis-recognition tool for children in an emergency department or reducing emergency hospital admissions for people from care homes. Finalists took charge, were go-head and daring.

Good entries fit the criteria for the chosen category and follow the instructions clearly so that the judges do not have to try to work out what happened. Your application should tell the story of what was done and the impact your project has had.

It is worth remembering that the reader will know only what you tell them, so time spent thinking about the message is important. Simple, straightforward language is best and it can be useful to seek feedback from colleagues.

Where others have been involved, it helps the process of shortlisting if the role played by each person is stated.

Several categories ask about challenges, evaluation and sharing best practice. 

Challenges are articulated well in most applications but evaluation and sharing best practice are less so. The best projects generally have evidence of their impact. This can involve the use of outcome measures, feedback or audit data on, for example, patient safety, efficiency and effectiveness, including cost-effectiveness, or patient experience. 

Best practice has been disseminated through activities such as engaging with others to promote the change more widely within or beyond the organisation, teaching colleagues and students, writing articles, for example for publication with RCNi, and learning materials, or presenting at conferences.


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