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Nursing Times Awards: Glittering night honours nursing excellence

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A breast cancer nurse who used her knowledge of the disease to help soap opera screen writers tackle portraying the difficult issue was among those praised last night at our annual awards ceremony.

Victoria Harmer, who helped screen writers on Coronation Street and BBC Radio 4’s The Archers, has been named Cancer Nurse of the Year at the 2013 Nursing Times Awards.

The breast cancer nurse specialist at Imperial College Healthcare Trust in London said she worked with Coronation Street scriptwriters when character Sally Webster was diagnosed with the disease.

She said she also helped to alter the scripts when the actress who plays the role, Sally Dynevor, was diagnosed with the disease in real life.

Ms Dynevor, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009, found a lump in her breast while preparing for the storyline.

Ms Harmer, 41, from central London, said: “I did help to write the scripts for The Archers for BBC Radio 4 when Ruth had breast cancer and also I helped a couple of years ago when Sally Webster was diagnosed with breast cancer on Coronation Street.

“It’s really important not to scaremonger, to get the salient points across and to get correct information out there.

“I think the average viewers of Coronation Street are post-menopausal women who, of course, are most at risk of breast cancer.”

Senior nurse Patricia McDermott was also recognised at the awards ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London’s Park Lane.

Ms McDermott, who works as a senior specialist nurse in bladder and bowel care on Guernsey, was given a prize for her work in promoting continence promotion and care.

The 41-year-old led some key research on the impact of public toilet closures on people with continence problems.

“My patients tell me how their lives revolve around public toilets,” she said.

“So I thought I would look at the adequacy of public toilets. The first public toilet was opened 150 years ago and since about 50% of them have been closed and councils have no legal obligation to provide public toilets.”

She said her findings have been used by officials on Guernsey to improve facilities including putting baby changing tables in men’s lavatories and improving the quality of the toilet paper.

“The little changes have improved the users experience because they know now when they go out they have got adequate toilets and the facilities that they need, this in turn prevents social isolation,” she added.

A record 19 categories were featured in this year’s Nursing Times awards, rewarding excellence across a range of specialties and practice areas.

The Nurse of the Year award was handed to Annie Ollivierre-Smith who was recognised for 36 years of service to cardiac nursing in London.

The 59-year-old, who works at BMI The London Independent Hospital, said she was “humbled and honoured” even to be nominated for the award.

The last, but most prestigious award, of the night went Liz Refern CBE. Ms Redfern, who is NHS England’s regional chief nursing officer for the South, recieved the CNOs’ Award for Lifetime Achievement for her contribution to nursing.

Read more about Ms Redfern and our other winnners in the Nursing Times Awards 2013 brochure. A full list of winners is also included below.

Earlier in the day many of the awards finalists attended a reception hosted by His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales at Clarence House.

Writing in the Nursing Times ahead of the awards ceremony, the Prince said those nominated for the awards, in 19 categories, are making a “tangible difference” to people’s lives.

He added: “The nominees are just a few of the many thousands of nurses who understand the value of the ‘human touch’ and who are committed to working day in, day out, in hospitals and in the community, to give patients, carers and families exceptional care.

“It is impossible to express the value of the care they give, often when people are at their most vulnerable, and I can only congratulate them on all their achievements.”

Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “What these awards do is they really recognise the wonderful contribution nurses make to the health of the nation.

“One of the biggest problems we have always got with these awards is first of all getting down to a short-list and then the unenviable task of trying to decide on a winner. Everyone here in their own way is a winner.”

Jane Cummings, NHS England’s chief nursing officer, added: “That pride and that sense of recognition will stay with them forever.

“The quality of the applicants is absolutely brilliant, but the winners are truly worthy of the awards tonight.”

  • CNOs’ Award for Lifetime Achievement – Liz Redfern CBE
  • Team of the Year – London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Medical Services  
  • Nurse of the Year – Annie Ollivierre-Smith from BMI Healthcare
  • Nurse Leader of the Year – Audrey Kirby from South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Cancer Nursing Award – Victoria Harmer from Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust
  • Cardiovascular Service Award – South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Care of Older People Award – Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board
  • Child and Adolescent Services Award – Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust
  • Continence Promotion and Care Award – Guernsey Health and Social Services
  • Emergency and Critical Care Award – Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust
  • Enhancing Patient Dignity Award – Velindre NHS Trust
  • Excellence in Supporting Staff Health and Wellbeing – Doncaster and Bassetlaw Foundation Trust
  • Infection Prevention and Control Award – Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust
  • Learning Disabilities Nursing Award – Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust
  • Nursing in the Community Award – Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
  • Nursing in Mental Health Award – Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust
  • Patient Safety Improvement Award – Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
  • Respiratory Nursing Award – Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust
  • Rising Star Award – Lynsey Brown from Calderstones Partnership NHS Foundation Trust


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