RCN Nursing Awards 2023: all the winners and their projects
We reveal the inspiring RCN Nursing Award winners, who are leading change and improving outcomes in patient care, including the Nurse of the Year 2023
Meet the winners of the RCN Nursing Awards 2023, whose innovative and patient-centred projects have challenged the status quo and overcome barriers to improve care.
The recipients of the prestigious awards were revealed at a ceremony at Liverpool Cathedral on 10 November. The year saw the awards attract their highest-ever number of entries, and the judges commended the finalists for their commitment, dedication and compassion.
Award winners identified need and improved patient care
Among the winners are a nurse who increased uptake of smear tests in her community, a team who improved access to hepatitis C testing and treatment, and a dementia nurse consultant who improved diagnosis and treatment of the disease in care homes.
A nursing student who identified the need for better support for young people leaving mental health services has also been recognised for her work in engaging with services users.
Here is a round-up of the winners.
RCN Nurse of the Year, and Leadership Award
Julie Roye, East London NHS Foundation Trust
Queen’s Nurse Julie Roye increased smear test uptake among eligible 25-64 year olds at a medical centre in Bedford by almost 50% in nine months, breaking down barriers to access for the diverse patient population.
Head of nursing primary care at her trust, Ms Roye assembled a multidisciplinary team including nurses, other healthcare professionals and experts in outreach and education, as well as patients, to improve uptake of smear tests at Cauldwell Medical Centre.
They focused on making appointments more convenient and found new ways to engage with the community.
‘This shows a deprived borough can achieve the same healthcare as privileged areas with the right leadership and by accepting change’
Julie Roye, Queen’s Nurse and RCN Nurse of the Year 2023
East Bedford Primary Care Network had recorded a consistently low uptake of cervical screening before Ms Roye took up her post.
She won praise for her ‘truly inclusive’ and comprehensive approach, genuine co-production of services with the people who use them, and her focus on staff development, which saw uptake increase to 80%.Nurse of the Year 2023: read more about winner Julie Roye
‘I’m grateful for my fantastic team to have this project recognised nationally,’ Ms Roye said.
‘This shows a deprived borough can achieve the same healthcare as privileged areas with the right leadership and by accepting change.’
The Nurse of the Year award is sponsored by the RCN
Child Health award
ISupport, Edge Hill University, Lancashire
ISupport works with children, parents and healthcare professionals to ensure a child’s emotional and psychological well-being is central to all key decisions about care and procedures.
The team represents a collaboration between 50 multidisciplinary professionals from 16 countries, inspired by Katie Dixon, who experienced multiple traumatic procedures as a child and has since been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
The team developed a set of standards that outline what good procedural practice looks like, designed to minimise anxiety and stress experienced by children when undergoing procedures.
‘We are very proud that this work is being recognised, it is an amazing way to say thank you to all the children, young people and parents who have been such an important part of the project, especially Katie who started the team in the first place,’ she said. ‘The team are passionate about changing practice and this award helps showcase the difference that nurses can make.’
Community and General Practice award
Veterans Clinical Services, Help for Heroes
Retired Royal Navy nurse Captain Carol Betteridge built a team of nurses and other professionals to support veterans to navigate primary healthcare services in their own communities.
Veterans Clinical Services (VCS) has supported 2,013 veterans, including 29 who were seriously injured during service and now receive lifelong support from complex clinical case managers and occupational therapists.
‘Veterans often report feeling forgotten. This is a message to all veterans that they matter, that their service to their country mattered and that the wider healthcare population is behind them’
Jennie Rumble, project manager of Veterans Clinical Services, Community and General Practice award winner
The service also supports healthcare practitioners to understand veterans’ needs and has delivered self-help courses to veterans and their families on issues including pain management, sleep and hearing.
VCS project manager Jennie Rumble said: ‘Veterans often report feeling forgotten. This is a message to all veterans that they matter, that their service to their country mattered and that the wider healthcare population is behind them in ensuring they are able to transition to civilian life and live well after service.’
Digital Innovation award
Paediatric Diabetes Team, North Middlesex University Hospital, London
The Paediatric Diabetes Team team set a goal to increase the number of patients accessing insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) devices by engaging with those who were excluded in terms of digital access.
The team identified those who did not have the digital skills or financial capacity to use the technology and sourced laptops for them to use with the devices to monitor their glucose levels.
This has resulted in families feeling more empowered to manage their child’s diabetes at home, leading to outcomes above the national average in diabetes care, and freeing up nurses’ time for other elements of care.
Paediatric specialist nurse Davina Jean-Jacques said she hoped winning the category would ‘inspire more specialist teams to continue to advocate for their patients in order to improve overall health outcomes’.
The Digital Innovation award is sponsored by FutureU
Greener Nursing Practice award
Holly Slyne, Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust
Associate director of infection prevention Holly Slyne led an eight-week education programme at her trust to reduce unnecessary use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
The Green PPE Team project, delivered through videos, e-posters and on the trust’s social media groups, focused on a different area of practice every week.
From observations and surveys, Ms Slyne identified eight trends in overuse of gloves and aprons and made a training package to address the issue. She also refreshed the trust’s PPE policy, sending it to all staff.
‘Infection, prevention and control is often seen as a blocker to green or sustainable changes in healthcare and this was a great way for it to be leading a sustainable change’
Holly Slyne, Greener Nursing Practice award winner
Before the programme was delivered, 12% of nurses responded correctly to internal surveys on correct PPE use – this figure increased to 98% after the training.
Ms Slyne said: ‘Infection, prevention and control (IPC) is often seen as a blocker to green or sustainable changes in healthcare and this was a great way for IPC to be leading a sustainable change. It has encouraged staff to engage with IPC on other projects as a result, which is fantastic.’
Innovations in Your Specialty award
Heart Centre, Alder Hey Children's NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool
The Heart Centre team developed a clinically validated app – Little Hearts at Home – to ensure very young children with severe heart defects can be carefully monitored at home while they wait for surgery.
Alder Hey’s Heart Centre is the referral centre for the treatment of congenital heart defects in North West England, North Wales and Isle of Man.
Remote and in-person workshops were delivered to 200 community nurses across 29 regions of the North West to give them an overview of the app and get their feedback about what features they needed.
The app allows patients and their families to connect with community care providers, critical care teams and clinical staff, helping avoid a hospital stay in the first 6-9 months of a baby’s life.
Cardiac nurse specialist lead Helen Walker said winning the award was fantastic. ‘We can hopefully make more people aware of the project and enable more families to benefit from this, thus keeping children safe at their most vulnerable time,’ she said.
The Innovations in Your Specialty award is sponsored by the NMC
Learning Disability Nursing award
Julie-Anne Colvin, Southern Health and Social Care Trust, Northern Ireland
Julie-Anne Colvin developed a sleep service for adults with learning disabilities to help support service users to live healthier, more independent lives.
One in three adults with a learning disability will experience sleep problems in their lives. Ms Colvin secured funding from her trust to employ a full-time sleep coordinator and provide sleep counsellor training for staff.
Service users receive bespoke programmes and intensive support to improve their sleep. One man in his twenties said he can now sleep in his own room, allowing him to live more independently.
‘This win raises the profile of the sleep deprivation that occurs in adults with a learning disability and ultimately demonstrates that a measurable difference can be made’
Julie-Anne Colvin, Learning Disability Nursing award winner
‘This is not just a win for me, but a win for the service, our service users and our families,’ Ms Colvin said. ‘It raises the profile of the sleep deprivation that occurs within adults with a learning disability and ultimately demonstrates that a measurable difference can be made.’
Mental Health Nursing award
Scarisbrick Inpatient Unit, Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust
Originally a corridor where people stopped to talk to nurses sitting and writing up notes, the space has been transformed into a safe and sociable area through collaboration with Lancashire County Council and the companies Lush and Unilever.
Staff have been trained to develop and deliver therapeutic activities in the space, resulting in a 60% reduction of self-harm among inpatients and 25% reduction in violence and aggression on the ward.
Modern matron at the trust Rebekah Nwaka said winning the award shows how ‘simple changes make such a difference to the experience of patients on the ward’.
‘We are so happy to be able to showcase our hard work and have this recognised at such a high level,’ she said.
Nursing Older People award
Care Home Memory Assessment Service, Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust
Dementia nurse consultant Kumar Ponnusamy wanted to address the waiting list for Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust’s memory clinic.
To do this he created a memory assessment service that focused on diagnosing and improving dementia care in care homes.
Mr Ponnusamy created nurse-led multidisciplinary meetings for case discussion, diagnosis and devising care plans, including reviews of antipsychotic medication. He also offered clinical supervision to mental health practitioners involved in the assessment process.
In the first six months,109 people were assessed via the service, with 95 receiving a diagnosis of dementia. Thirteen people were referred onto other services and three discontinued antipsychotic medication.
The project has also helped improve care staff’s knowledge and understanding of managing patients with dementia.
Nursing Student award
Leanne Howlett, Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust/Coventry University
Having identified how daunting it can be for young people being discharged from mental health services, nursing student award winner Leanne Howlett developed a resource to support young people to reflect on their recovery.
Ms Howlett was on placement when she noticed young people felt a real loss and increased anxiety having been held by mental health services.
The Discharge Wellbeing resource she developed will be rolled out across the entire child and adolescent mental health services at the trust. Patients who have already received the pack have reported it improved their discharge experience, helping to reframe it as something positive.
‘I gave up my previous career to become a nurse because I wanted to make a difference to people experiencing mental health difficulties… I feel incredibly proud that I have been able to do this’
Leanne Howlett, Nursing Student award winner
Ms Howlett said: ‘I gave up my previous career to become a nurse because I wanted to make a difference to people experiencing mental health difficulties in the way that someone once made a difference to me when I was unwell, so I feel incredibly proud that I have been able to do this.’
Nursing Support Worker award
Christian Harris and Kirsten Jenkins, Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board, Wales
Christian Harris and Kirsten Jenkins oversee training in prevention and management of violence and aggression for all staff at the Ty Llidiard child and adolescent mental health services inpatient unit.
They deliver the training for more than 100 colleagues, ensuring it is tailored for supporting children and young people, alongside undertaking their daily nursing support worker duties.
The training focuses on de-escalation and managing potentially challenging behaviour and gives staff the knowledge and experience to deal with such situations with a reduced reliance on restrictions.
Of their award win, they said: ‘It is very humbling to be recognised in this way. We are really pleased to have the opportunity to discuss the work we do and share the ideas we have so that maybe other areas can learn from our experience.’
Patient’s Choice award
Arches District Nursing Team, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust
The Arches District Nursing Team at Belfast Health and Social Care Trust received thousands of votes after being nominated for the 2023 Patient’s Choice award by Janette Connor.
Ms Connor, who has Behçet's syndrome, a rare disorder that results in the inflammation of the blood vessels and tissues, says the nurses in the Arches team have transformed her life over the past two years.
‘Since this team has taken over my care, I’ve had one unplanned hospital admission in two years… I can now work from home and spend time with friends and family’
Janette Connor, patient who nominated Patient’s Choice award winners the Arches District Nursing Team
Before she was under their care, Ms Connor was referred to the emergency department due to skin infections multiple times a month. In one year, she spent close to 200 nights in hospital, which significantly affected her relationships and mental health.
The district nursing team used a holistic approach to tailor care for Ms Connor. ‘Since this team has taken over my care, I’ve had one unplanned hospital admission in two years,’ she said. ‘The disease is more active than ever, but I can now work from home and spend time with friends and family.’
Team lead Orla Glennon said: ‘Just to be nominated was an honour. It is quite something to publicly hear the positive impact we can have on a patient’s life and overall well-being.’
Researcher of the Year award
Roxanne Crosby-Nwaobi, Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
Roxanne Crosby-Nwaobi led a campaign to raise awareness about taking part in research opportunities among minority ethnic groups and people from deprived areas, who are traditionally poorly represented in clinical trials.
Lead research nurse Dr Crosby-Nwaobi created a digital platform to engage with patients and encourage them to sign up for clinical trials.
Her work with focus groups to co-produce promotional materials has been translated into Gujarati, Punjabi, Hindi, Urdu and Bengali, with Turkish, Polish, Pashto and Dari in progress.
‘Ultimately, I hope that my work will add fuel to the national and international movement to increase equity, diversity and inclusion in research’
Roxanne Crosby-Nwaobi, Researcher of the Year award winner
‘Increased representation of underserved communities in research is essential to the development of improved treatments and methods to combat diseases that disproportionally impact these communities, thereby reducing health inequalities,’ Dr Crosby-Nwaobi said.
‘Ultimately, I hope that my work will add fuel to the national and international movement to increase equity, diversity and inclusion in research.’
The Researcher of the Year award is sponsored by the National Institute for Health and Care Research
Team of the Year award
ARC Hounslow, Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust
The Addiction Recovery Community (ARC) Hounslow team, led by addiction nurse practitioner Eugenia Moyo-Hlahla, have reduced health inequalities and stigma by improving access to hepatitis C testing and treatment for marginalised populations in the trust’s area.
Patients who attend ARC clinics can access personalised healthcare and groundbreaking hepatitis C treatments. The team worked to achieve micro-elimination of the virus in Hounslow, in line with NHS England’s 2025 target for Hepatitis C cases – and achieved this goal two years early.
The team’s innovative approach includes incentives to attend testing events and testing on prescription collection days to reduce non-attendance.
They also worked with local rangers to increase access to treatments and reduce drug injecting in local parks.
The Team of the Year award is sponsored by LV
Workforce Initiative of the Year award
Nursing Workforce and Education Team, Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
Nurse vacancies at Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust were high and staff survey results showed nurses did not feel valued, supported or empowered to improve care.
To address this, the team set up the ‘Grow our Own’ programme, which supports the trust’s existing and future workforce through career progression and development opportunities, well-being initiatives and pastoral care.
Practice development matron at the trust Karen Mechen said: ‘By investing in our current workforce we have developed an environment in which staff feel valued and motivated, which is shown to improve patient care and outcomes.
‘This is evidence that giving staff encouragement and room to grow is essential to workforce development and excellent patient care.’
The Workforce Initiative of the Year award is sponsored by NHS Professionals
Chief Nursing Officer’s award
Highland Urology Nursing Team, NHS Highland, Scotland
Having been shortlisted for the Team of the Year award, the Highland Urology Nursing Team received the Chief Nursing Officer’s award, in recognition of their outstanding achievements.
The team implemented a range of nurse-led pathways to reduce waiting times for urology services. The pathways involve all urology sub-specialties, including prostate, renal and bladder cancer and benign conditions, to ensure all patients needing the services are reached.
‘To be recognised for our achievements gives us so much confidence in what we do’
Brian Corr, senior advanced clinical nurse specialist in the Highland Urology Nursing Team, winners of the Chief Nursing Officer’s award
The nursing team was expanded to provide increased levels of care and ensure continuity of care for patients who would usually see different healthcare professionals at different appointments.
Alongside this, virtual clinic attendance was increased for patients who would usually have to attend appointments by air or sea due to the remote areas the trust serves.
Senior advanced clinical nurse specialist Brian Corr said: ‘To be recognised for our achievements gives us so much confidence in what we do. It gives us belief that the highland patient is receiving a service recognised and validated by our colleagues and peers.’