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Mary Seacole awards: improving leadership skills and health outcomes

Staff applying for the Mary Seacole awards will have opportunities to develop their leadership skills while improving the health of people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds.
Nurse_and_Patient_Alamy

Staff applying for the Mary Seacole awards will have opportunities to develop their leadership skills while improving the health of people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds.

The Mary Seacole awards provide an opportunity for individuals to be recognised for their outstanding work in black and minority ethnic (BME) communities. Set up in 2004, the awards are funded by Health Education England and made in association with the Royal College of Nursing, Royal College of Midwives, Unison and Unite, with the support of NHS Employers. They are open to nurses, midwives and health visitors in England, and recipients need not come from a BME background.

The awards have a dual purpose. First, they provide funding for specific healthcare projects and activities that can improve health outcomes among people from BME communities. Second, work undertaken for an award is expected to contribute to

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Staff applying for the Mary Seacole awards will have opportunities to develop their leadership skills while improving the health of people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds.

Nurse_and_Patient
Picture: Alamy

The Mary Seacole awards provide an opportunity for individuals to be recognised for their outstanding work in black and minority ethnic (BME) communities. Set up in 2004, the awards are funded by Health Education England and made in association with the Royal College of Nursing, Royal College of Midwives, Unison and Unite, with the support of NHS Employers. They are open to nurses, midwives and health visitors in England, and recipients need not come from a BME background.

The awards have a dual purpose. First, they provide funding for specific healthcare projects and activities that can improve health outcomes among people from BME communities. Second, work undertaken for an award is expected to contribute to enhancing equality and diversity, and to redressing health inequalities.

Angela Ditchfield, a specialist organ donation nurse at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, received the Mary Seacole award in 2014 for her work in a community of people with a Pakistani background. She says: ‘Winning the Mary Seacole leadership award allowed me to carry out a research project named “It’s about time our community started to talk about organ donation”. I worked alongside local imams, elders and young people who wanted to learn about organ donation and transplantation.

‘Since the launch of the project I have been invited into several Islamic schools to discuss the topic. I have also been approached by people in other regions of the country who are keen to duplicate the project among their communities. I have just been appointed the lead nurse for diversity for organ donation, which I am excited to start.’

Developmental programme

Healthcare organisations need to deliver good-quality care, nurture innovation and improve productivity, and one of the best ways to do this is through their staff.

As a senior nurse, I am often approached by senior nurses who are seeking developmental opportunities for themselves or members of their teams. 

Mary Seacole awardees benefit from a developmental programme that enables them to explore their leadership skills while being given space to think about their careers. There is significant evidence that the awards enhance career opportunities, particularly for professionals from BME communities who are under-represented in leadership and management positions.

Sarah Amani is a Mary Seacole scholar who works as a senior programme manager for an initiative commissioned by NHS England to implement the first access-and-waiting-time standards in secondary mental healthcare.

Her Mary Seacole project in 2011-2012 explored factors affecting access  to services among Nepalese communities in North East Hampshire. The project focused on improving mental health awareness in the communities and increasing cultural competency among staff. The project organised joint mental health first-aid training with community elders and mental health staff, which was supplemented by e-learning and guided tours of local services. The Mary Seacole award gave Sarah the opportunity to develop skills in project management and leadership as well as a chance to meet policy makers.

In summary, the Mary Seacole awards can provide the opportunity for senior nurses to stimulate discussions about how care is delivered. They can also help to identify the actions required to improve the experiences of BME communities and staff working in care settings in England.

The closing date for the 2017-2018 applications is 22 May 2017.

Information about the application process and eligibility is available from NHS Employers or by emailing siobhan.smyth@rcn.org.uk


About the author

Christine_McKenzie

Christine Mckenzie is professional lead of the RCN executive nurse network

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