Nurse Awards

A chance to show what nurses can do

Winners from last year’s Nurse Awards have seen their influence increase and their projects rolled out around the UK and beyond
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Winners from last years Nurse Awards have seen their influence increase and their projects rolled out around the UK and beyond

The most prestigious accolade in nursing launches today, with entries invited for 13 categories that cover the breadth and depth of the profession.

The Nurse Awards, which celebrate nursing excellence, are open to nurses, midwives and health visitors registered to practise in the UK, and whose primary employment is nursing.

Healthcare assistants, assistant practitioners and nursing students can also enter the 12 categories. Teams and individuals are eligible and can enter themselves or be nominated. The 2017 RCN Nurse of the Year will be chosen from the winners of the 12 categories.

There is also a Patients Choice Award, where patients and service users can nominate a nurse who has made a difference to their lives, before a shortlist is put to a public

Winners from last year’s Nurse Awards have seen their influence increase and their projects rolled out around the UK and beyond

The most prestigious accolade in nursing launches today, with entries invited for 13 categories that cover the breadth and depth of the profession.

The Nurse Awards, which celebrate nursing excellence, are open to nurses, midwives and health visitors registered to practise in the UK, and whose primary employment is nursing. 

Healthcare assistants, assistant practitioners and nursing students can also enter the 12 categories. Teams and individuals are eligible and can enter themselves or be nominated. The 2017 RCN Nurse of the Year will be chosen from the winners of the 12 categories.

There is also a Patients Choice Award, where patients and service users can nominate a nurse who has made a difference to their lives, before a shortlist is put to a public vote.

Unrivalled platform

Previous award winners say that as well as enjoying the recognition, the Nurse Awards have given them an unrivalled platform to share their practice.


Nurse of the Year 2016 Venetia Wynter-Blyth.

This year’s Nurse of the Year Venetia Wynter-Blyth also won the Innovations in your Specialty category, for her holistic approach to preparing patients for bowel surgery after cancer diagnosis. 

Offering prehabilitation, that starts from the point of diagnosis, her work has led to a significant reduction in surgical complications and the length of time that patients stay in hospital. 

The Imperial College Hospital gastrointestinal clinical nurse specialist said winning the award has ensured rehabilitation is increasingly on the agenda at her hospital.

An open door 

‘When it was an idea three years ago I was having to spend a lot of time convincing people to consider prehabilitation,’ she says. ‘Now we are knocking on an open door.

‘Survivorship of cancer is on the agenda right now, and it is making people sit up and realise that we can look at survivorship from a point of rehabilitation right from the start of treatment.’


Ms Wynter-Blyth is encouraging nurses to see the bigger picture.

Ms Wynter-Blyth has already been approached by NHS England about the service she developed.

‘Nurses as individuals have a tendency to just get on with things, but it is when we come together as a profession that we see the bigger picture,’ she says.

Fantastic opportunity 

Verna Lavender was part of the team that won the Excellence in Cancer Research award, for its work examining the perceptions of teenagers and young people participating in bone cancer trials.

The senior lecturer in cancer care at Oxford Brookes University says winning the award was ‘a fantastic opportunity’, adding that the team had been approached by many researchers and practitioners who wanted to know more about their work.


Verna Lavender collects her team’s award.

School nurse Ruth Butler, who won the child health category last year for her Health Matters website for pupils, says she has used the work of other winners to influence her practice.

Ms Butler, who works for Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust, says entering the Nurse Awards is important for the profession. ‘As nurses, we aren’t very good at talking about what we do.’ 

Expanding roles

Jo Boyd has led the first service to include nurse-led ultrasound to confirm or exclude deep vein thrombosis in the community. Scooping the 2016 Community category, the service improves patient experience while reducing risk and saving money.

‘I have had the opportunity to link up with peers and new nurses looking for a new challenge. We were the first nurse-led service to offer scanning, and it is important to let nurses know how their roles can be expanded,’ she says. 


Jo Boyd, whose team won the Community category in 2016.

Gwen Moulster agrees it is a great platform to showcase practice. She was one of a team of consultant nurses who won the Learning Disability Nursing category for the Health Equalities Framework they created. 

‘Learning disability nurses can be poor at explaining their impact,’ she says. ‘We asked how can we measure outcomes of what learning disability nurses do, and I think we cracked it by looking at health inequalities.’

More recognition 

Ms Moulster was recognised again in the summer, when she won an OBE for her services to nursing and people with learning disabilities.

Another nurse who feature in that honours list was Fiona Murphy, who was Nurse of the Year in 2011. She was awarded an MBE for services to nursing, bereavement care and organ donation.

The Nursing Older People category winner in 2016 was Geraldine Rodgers. A nurse consultant at NELFT NHS Foundation Trust, Ms Rodgers reduced aggression and improved staff morale on a mental health ward by making the environment more homely

‘The award has been a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate the work we do for older people, and it allows us to show our project further afield.’


Geraldine Rodgers won the Nursing Older People category.

International interest

A number of other hospital trusts, as well as individual nurses, have contacted her about the project, keen to learn more about the initiative. 

Finalists have found platforms for their work beyond the UK. One practice development team at Black Country Partnership NHS Trust won the mental health award for the development and implementation of restraint care plans.

Nurses as individuals have a tendency to just get on with things, but it is when we come together as a profession that we see the bigger picture.

Team member Susan Burns says the team has been contacted by health commissioners as far away as Geneva, as well as by the Ministry of Justice.

Ms Burns encourages nurses to enter the awards. ‘You should do it, but do commit yourself to it. I have found the whole process really, really validating.’

Sharing practice

Learning disability category award winner Ms Moulster agrees, and encourages colleagues to enter.

‘Everyone believes their work is not good enough or big enough, but it is important to share practice so people know about it,’ she says. 

The closing date for entries is January 6th. To enter go to https://rcni.com/nurse-awards.

The categories

•    Cancer Nursing Practice
•    Child Health Award 
•    Community Nursing Award 
•    Excellence in Cancer Research Award (sponsored by Cancer Research UK)
•    Leadership 
•    Learning Disability Nursing Award (sponsored by NHS England)
•    Mental Health Practice Award 
•    Nursing Older People Award 
•    Healthcare Assistant Award
•    Innovations in your Specialty Award
•    Patient's Choice Award (sponsored by Yakult)
•    Supporting Carers Award (sponsored by NHS England)

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