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Stirling student nurse wins award for flu jab campaign and improving wound swabbing

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Charlotte Ritson, a student nurse at the University of Stirling, has been named “young achiever” achiever of the year at the Scottish Health Awards 2016.

Ms Ritson, who graduates this month with a BSc Nursing (Adult Branch) was nominated for her commitment to tackling both minor and major areas of change in her role as a student.

“It was fantastic to win and to be recognised in this way”

Charlotte Ritson

The university said infection control was an area that Ms Ritson had taken a “keen personal interest” in, attending extra-curricular seminars and trainings sessions.

This led her to develop a quality improvement practicum, which was credited with successfully improving practitioner knowledge of best practice guidance regarding wound swabbing.

It also encouraged staff to rely on clinical knowledge and holistic assessments, rather than simply wound swabbing as a precautionary measure.

In addition, following discussion with colleagues across Scotland, Ms Ritson became aware that many student nurses, unlike foundation year doctors and hospital volunteers, were not automatically eligible to receive free influenza vaccines

This gap in vaccination policy was putting older and vulnerable patients at risk due to the high proportion of time student nurses spend in direct patient contact, she concluded.

University of Stirling/NHS Forth Valley

Stirling student nurse wins award for infection control work

Charlotte Ritson

As a result, she ran a campaign and has since received confirmation from various health board chief executives that they will be providing the vaccine to all healthcare students.

Ms Ritson said she hoped to “vastly improve care” delivered to those with long-term conditions and palliative care needs, in particular, and would to continue to make changes.

She said: “It was fantastic to win and to be recognised in this way. I’d like to thank the tissue viability nurses at NHS Forth Valley who were very supportive of me while I was doing the campaign. I hope this encourages other student nurses to make changes.”

Dr Ashley Shepherd, head of health sciences at the university, added: “We are delighted for Charlotte and this recognition shows what nurses can achieve even from the start of their careers.”

The Scottish Health Awards are run by the Daily Record, in partnership with NHSScotland and the Scottish government. The annual event is now established as one of the most recognised awards ceremonies for healthcare professionals within Scotland. 

Other nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants who won awards include:

  • Support Worker Award (Sponsored by Unison Scotland) – Christine Malkison, NHS Fife
  • Midwife Award (Sponsored by Royal College of Midwives) – Sharon Coggins, NHS Forth Valley
  • Young Achiever Award – Charlotte Jane Ritson, University of Stirling/NHS Forth Valley
  • Care for Mental Health Award (Sponsored by Healthcare Improvement Scotland) – Mental Health Nurses in Kersiebank and Bannockburn GP Practices, NHS Forth Valley
  • Nurse Award (Sponsored by Unison Glasgow Clyde & CVS Branch) – Sue Bluff, NHS Tayside
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