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'I was so encouraged that infection prevention was being taken seriously'

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Last year, Julie Hughes and her team won a Nursing Times infection control award. They’ll be taking us with them on their post-award journey …

When I started at the 5 Boroughs Trust two years ago I was really impressed by the service user and carer involvement scheme. Its slogan ‘Nothing about us, without us’ really sums up the trust’s commitment to meaningful involvement.  

Still, I wanted to make infection prevention and control a little different.

I shared my thoughts our involvement scheme coordinator who invited me to give a presentation about our infection prevention agenda to the Joint Service User and Carer Forum in February 2009. After my talk I was delighted when quite a few people volunteered to help out.

Over the following weeks some became actively involved - attending our committee meetings, helping to develop information leaflets on infection prevention and control. And after training, taking part in auditing practices on the wards. It was really encouraging to hear that they were feeling more confident and that they felt infection prevention and control was being taken seriously.

Last year Ray Walker, our director of nursing, governance and performance, suggested that the team’s hard work might be deserving of a Nursing Times Infection Control Awards. We agreed!

It was such a thrill to be shortlisted and we excitedly went off to London to do a presentation on 7 September 2010.

A tube strike on the day did little to settle our nerves. Thankfully, we arrived in time and were made very welcome by everyone at the Nursing Times offices. The presentation appeared to go well with Harry and Eileen doing most of the talking - after all, it was about service user involvement! I think I was more nervous than they were!

In November we travelled to London again to attend the award ceremony at the Park Lane, Hilton. Surprise, surprise – there was another tube strike, leaving us with just half an hour to get glammed up and get to the venue. Our Trust Chairman Bernard Pilkington was so pleased that we’d been nominated, he came down with us.

We genuinely never expected to win. It was such a shock when the presenter said: “And the winner is…. 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust!” More than anything I was thrilled for Harry and Eileen who couldn’t believe they had won a national award. We have all been on such an amazing journey together. What better result could we have wished for?

Bernard was so emotional, he even rang his relatives in Canada to tell them how proud he was of us all.

That wonderful evening seems such a long time ago now – but what a fantastic memory to have! Over the next few months we’ll let you know what life after the Nursing Times awards has been like for us and what we’ve been up to in infection prevention and control.

Julie Hughes is a nurse consultant in infection control at 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust - a specialist provider of mental health and learning disabilities services. She is also a Lecturer at the University of Chester.

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