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RCNi Nurse Awards 2019: past winners explain what the awards have meant to them

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 there are new categories for 2019,  including Team of the Year, Continence Promotion, Infection Prevention and Control, Respiratory Nursing, Excellence in Diabetes Care and Skin and Wound Care.

RCN Nurse of the Year 2018 Angela Hall. Picture: Mark Hakansson

Chair of judges, Yvonne Coghill.
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.

Showcase for hard work and innovation

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 hardworking and innovated nurses we have in the UK.’

'Being named RCN Nurse of the Year 2018 has been massively rewarding, resulting in further achievements in my field’

Angela Hall, RCN Nurse of the Year 2018

The RCN Nurse of the Year 2019 will be chosen from the category winners and announced at the awards ceremony in London on July 3.

The current holder of the title is arrhythmia nurse specialist Angela Hall, who impressed the judges by leading the introduction of a new drug to treat rapid onset atrial fibrillation at Jersey General Hospital. ‘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 her colleague Kellyanne Kinsella who hoped ‘it would help her realise how amazing she is’.

The award has raised the profile of Angela Hall's service developments and arrhythmia nursing generally. Picture: Gary Grimshaw

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 this week 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.’

Shining a light on achievement

All our winners and finalists testify to the huge difference the awards have made to them personally and professionally, and their projects.

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.’

Nasima Begum led the team that won the NHS England-sponsored Commitment to Carers category for its work supporting the carers of people with mental illness through a social hub in Tower Hamlets, east London. The team, she says, found the awards process ‘a wonderful experience’.

Nasima Begum says the awards are a wonderful experience. Picture: Nathan Clarke

She says she was nervous before presenting to the judging panel but that they were ‘one of the nicest bunches of people I had come across’.  

'Winning boosted my confidence'

And she thoroughly enjoyed the awards ceremony in London. ‘The evening itself was exciting – the lavish dinner and getting dressed up – but most importantly being able to share those moments with some of the carers who joined us on the night… and the moment the winner was announced. Everyone’s reaction of joy was the highlight.

‘Winning definitely raised the profile of our Carers Hub almost immediately and it has given me more confidence when promoting my work with carers. And the higher profile has meant we are extending our work into other areas.’

For nurse consultant Yvonne Manson, winning the Leadership Award for her dementia programme was a valuable opportunity to shine a light on the care home sector.  

‘After winning, people contacted me on social media to say how it had inspired them to pursue a career in care homes. That meant a lot to me, having fought the stigma for most of my career’

Yvonne Manson, dementia nurse consultant

‘I entered the RCNi Nurse Awards to highlight the innovation in the sector and the career you can enjoy from working in care homes. I am incredibly proud of the Balhousie dementia programme I have led in the past two and a half years and the work that has gone into it. I wanted to share that with others.

Leadership Award winner Yvonne Manson recommends the awards to other nurses working in care homes. Picture: Mike Wilkinson

‘After winning, people contacted me on social media to say how it had inspired them to pursue a career in care homes and to be proud to do so. That meant a lot to me, having fought the stigma for most of my career.’

She ‘highly recommends’ colleagues nominate themselves or others for the 2019 awards, adding: ‘Not only can it support the development of your work but there is something very special about being recognised by your peers.’

The deadline for entries is 1 February.

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