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Prestigious charity award for Liverpool epilepsy specialist nurse

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The trustees of the charity Epilepsy Action, have chosen Dr Janine Winterbottom as the recipient of the charity’s most prestigious honour – the Lord Hastings Award.

Dr Winterbottom is an advanced nurse specialist in epilepsy and has worked at The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust in Liverpool since 1995. She started as a Sapphire Nurse, as part of Epilepsy Action’s campaign to improve healthcare services for people with epilepsy.

“I am humbled by their daily struggles and the challenges they deal with every day”

Janine Winterbottom

The Lord Hastings Award was established by the charity in 1990 to recognise individuals who have made an outstanding personal contribution to improving the lives of people with epilepsy.

The award was named after the charity’s first president, the Lord Hastings, who was also the first recipient. In its 28 year history, the award has only been given 12 times before.

Epilepsy Action said a particular area of interest for Dr Winterbottom had been preconception counselling for women who have epilepsy and their care during pregnancy.

One of her innovative approaches to this subject has been to help produce an animated video, which was aimed at women who have epilepsy and can be shared on social media, it noted.

“The quality of her work and the positive impact this has had on the lives of so many people makes her a most deserving recipient”

Philip Lee

The charity said the video aimed to encourage and help young women who have epilepsy to make informed decisions around conception and pregnancy management.

Her work has also focused on the experience of young people and their transition from paediatric to adult epilepsy services.

This can often be a worrying and stressful time, noted the charity, adding that Dr Winterbottom’s work had helped many teenagers make a “smooth and successful” move into adult epilepsy services.

Her work on epilepsy care during pregnancy was particularly important as some anti-epileptic drugs, such as valproate, pose higher risks to unborn children, highlighted the charity.

Valproate has recently been the subject of a government review and last month the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency issued new measures on its use.

Under the new rules, it stated that the drug must no longer be prescribed to girls and women of childbearing age in the UK unless they signed a form to understand the risks.

Dr Winterbottom said: “I am so honoured to receive this award. When I heard the news, I was so overwhelmed and thankful.

“I feel indebted to Epilepsy Action for providing the opportunity for my employment as Sapphire Nurse in 1995,” she said. “I remain indebted to Epilepsy Action for their ongoing support with my research.

“They championed extending role of the epilepsy specialist nurse into advanced practice in epilepsy, which I have the honour of representing on their behalf,” said Dr Winterbottom.

“I also wish to thank all the patients I have been honoured to know over the years. I am grateful for their support sharing their experiences, I feel I have learned so much from them,” she said.

She added: “I can’t thank the people I have come to know in my work at The Walton Centre enough. I am humbled by their daily struggles and the challenges they deal with every day, and it is my absolute honour to have been there for them.”

Philip Lee, chief executive of Epilepsy Action said: “I am delighted that the dedication and care that Janine has shown over many years is being recognised by the Lord Hastings Award.

“The quality of her work and the positive impact this has had on the lives of so many people makes her a most deserving recipient,” he added.

The Epilepsy Action awards will be held on 22 May at Leeds Civic Hall.

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