RCN Nurse of the Year 2021 revealed at live-streamed awards ceremony

Meet the innovative nurse who set up a clinic to improve access to abortion care in Northern Ireland, plus all our award winners

Nicola Bailey, RCN Nurse of the Year 2021
Nicola Bailey, RCN Nurse of the Year 2021 Picture: Jonathan Porter/PressEye

A nurse who transformed a sexual health service in Northern lreland to enable women to access early medical abortion has been named RCN Nurse of the Year 2021.

Sexual health lead nurse Nicola Bailey set up the Rose Clinic in Belfast days after lockdown limited women’s ability to travel to England for terminations. She did this while also cutting waiting times for contraception and dealing with COVID-19 restrictions.

Awards announced at live-streamed ceremony

Ms Bailey said she is ‘delighted and honoured’ to win the award, announced at tonight's live-streamed RCN Nursing Awards ceremony, hosted by broadcaster and journalist Kate Garraway and RCN general secretary Pat Cullen.

‘This is amazing for me, but also amazing for women’s sexual and reproductive healthcare in Northern Ireland,’ said Ms Bailey, who works for Belfast Health and Social Care Trust.

‘At our clinic we see women who are victims of rape and domestic violence, as well as women whose contraception has failed. We support vulnerable women who have repeatedly had their children removed from their care and help them with contraception so they can stop the cycle they are in and end the trauma of losing their children.’

In naming her RCN Nurse of the Year 2021, Ms Cullen said Ms Bailey had identified an area where she could use her knowledge and skills to improve access to care and treatment and moved swiftly to create an excellent person-centred service at her trust.

‘As nurses we often work in challenging environments and we work to challenge barriers and develop solutions to problems – Ms Bailey is no exception and as a result of her tenacity, she has overcome every obstacle to ensure women and girls get the support they need.’

RCN Nurse of the Year Awards 2021 presenters Pat Cullen, Andrea Sutcliffe, Denise Chaffer, Kate Garraway and Joanne Bosanquet
From left: RCN general secretary Pat Cullen at the ceremony with Nursing and Midwifery Council chief executive Andrea Sutcliffe, RCN president Denise Chaffer, awards host Kate Garraway and Foundation of Nursing Studies chief executive Joanne Bosanquet Picture: Barney Newman

Winner showed ‘determination to protect and promote human rights’

Awards judging panel chair and Foundation of Nursing Studies chief executive Joanne Bosanquet said: ‘We were blown away by the utter brilliance of all our nominees and finalists this year, but Ms Bailey’s passion for the women she cares for, her determination to protect and promote their human rights and her commitment to developing the role of the registered nurse in all aspects of sexual and reproductive healthcare in her trust and throughout Northern Ireland really stood out.’

The RCN Nurse of the Year was chosen from 15 awards category winners, which were also announced tonight. Earlier in the evening Ms Bailey won the Innovations in your Specialty category, sponsored by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

NMC chief executive Andrea Sutcliffe congratulated all the award winners, adding: ‘At the heart of this award was Ms Bailey’s desire to meet women’s needs, doing this with skill, kindness, respect and compassion. These are not only some of the defining principles of the NMC code but also the principles that underpin what it means to be an excellent nurse.’

Ms Bailey was nominated by sexual health clinical lead Siobhan Kirk, who said: ‘Ms Bailey is the most committed and compassionate nurse I have ever worked with. She overcomes every challenge to ensure her patients get what they need, including a challenging political situation and daily protests outside her clinic.

‘These services have revolutionised women’s healthcare in Northern Ireland and this award recognises Ms Bailey’s role in that.’

Belfast trust scoops three awards at this year’s ceremony

Belfast Health and Social Care Trust executive director of nursing and user experience Brenda Creaney said she was immensely proud after Ms Bailey became one of three nurses from the trust to win an award at this year's ceremony.

‘Their dedication to the care of patients, service users and colleagues never diminished amid the unrelenting presence of the COVID-19 pandemic. They have time and time again brought innovation and demonstrated leadership, in spite of the extreme pressures our nursing teams have been experiencing. I wish them continued success for the future.’

Ms Cullen said the awards had shown nurses ‘are so much more than their professional title’ and they spot opportunities to improve care and people’s lives.

‘You advocate for those who cannot find their voice, for whatever reason. You build a protective barrier around those often at their most vulnerable. You do this by understanding their needs, considering what support they require, and putting plans in place to help them.’

RCN Nursing Awards 2021 winners

Photo of Noel McDonald
Noel McDonald

Special Recognition Award

Noel McDonald

Belfast Health and Social Care Trust

Photo of Heidi Emery
Heidi Emery

Advanced Nursing Practice Award

Sponsored by the RCN

Heidi Emery

South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust

Photo of Emma Thompson, NISTAR team member
Team lead Emma Thompson

Child Health Award

Sponsored by Impelsys

NISTAR – Nurse-led transfer team

Belfast Health and Social Care Trust

Photo of Joanne Shaw
Joanne Shaw

Commitment to Carers Award

Sponsored by NHS England and NHS Improvement

Joanne Shaw

Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Photos of Emma Carey
Emma Carey

Community and General Practice Nursing Award

Sponsored by NHS England and NHS Improvement

Emma Carey

Northern Care Alliance

Photo of Rosie Lomas
Rosie Lomas, team member

Excellence in Cancer Research Nursing Award

Sponsored by Cancer Research UK

Early phase clinical trials team

Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Innovations in Your Specialty Award

Sponsored by the Nursing and Midwifery Council

Nicola Bailey

Belfast Health and Social Care Trust

Photo od Rohit Sagoo
Rohit Sagoo

Leadership Award

Sponsored by Cleveland Clinic London

Rohit Sagoo

British Sikh Nurses

Photo of Rebecca Crossley
Rebecca Crossley

Learning Disability Nursing Award

Rebecca Crossley

James Paget Hospital University Hospital

Photo of João Marçal-Grilo
João Marçal-Grilo

Mental Health Nursing Award

João Marçal-Grilo

Jaya Mental Health

Andrea Wyllie, representing the Nursing Older People Award winners
Team member
Andrea Wyllie

Nursing Older People Award

Meaningful visits team

Greenock Medical Aid Society care homes

Photo of Mairead Ryan
Mairead Ryan

Nursing Student Award

Sponsored by Tork

Mairead Ryan

Queen's University Belfast

Photo of Nicola Trehane
Nicola Trehane

Nursing Support Worker Award

Sponsored by RCN

Nicola Trehane

Hywel Dda University Health Board

Photo of Karen Walker, ward manager, Ashgate
Karen Walker, Ashgate team

Outstanding Contribution to Infection Prevention and Control Award

Sponsored by INEOS Hygienics

Inpatient unit team

Ashgate Hospicecare

Photo of Paul Murray
Paul Murray

Patient’s Choice Award

Sponsored by Alexandra

Paul Murray

Northern Health and Social Care Trust

Photo of team member Susana Lucena-Amara
Team member Susana Lucena-Amara

Team of the Year Award

Sponsored by LV

Adult critical care unit team

Barts Health NHS Trust

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