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Anglian specialist named ‘best learning disability nurse in England’

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A specialist nurse who works in Norfolk and Suffolk has been named as the best learning disability nurse in England at a charity awards ceremony.

Sue Bridges from the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust picked up the award at a ceremony at the International Conference Centre in Birmingham on Friday.

“This award goes to all the learning disability nurses who have supported me throughout my 30-year career”

Sue Bridges

She emerged as the overall winner after being one of nine nurses shortlisted in the Learning Disability Nurse Award category of the National Learning Disabilities and Autism Awards 2018.

The awards celebrate excellence in the support for people with learning disabilities and aim to pay tribute to those individuals or organisations who excel in providing quality care.

The Learning Disability Nurse Award itself acknowledges the important role that specialist nurses have in promoting the emotional, physical and psychological health of the people who they support.

The awards ceremony came just one day after the trust also learnt that it had been shortlisted in the Learning Disabilities Nursing category of the Nursing Times Awards 2018.

Ms Bridges, the trust’s professional lead for learning disabilities and autism, said: “I am incredibly proud to have won this prestigious award.

“I’ve spent my career striving to make a difference and to ensure equality for people with a learning disability. My career has been a rewarding one and I would recommend being a learning disabilities nurse to anyone.

“I am humbled by all the amazing learning disability nurses that champion care for people with learning disabilities every day so this award goes to all the learning disability nurses who have supported me throughout my 30-year career,” she said.

Ms Bridges is based in Endeavour House in Ipswich, but her role takes her across both counties where she offers clinical advice, delivers training to staff and liaises with partner organisations.

She is a registered learning disabilities nurse with more than 30 years’ experience. Her post was created in 2015 to ensure the trust provided the most appropriate services to meet patient needs.

“This is a remarkable achievement for Sue and our team of Green Light Champions”

Peter Devlin

The trust has almost 200 “Green Light Champions”, who are led by Ms Bridges and are people with a particular interest or expertise in learning disabilities and autism that promote best practice.

They include staff working in all areas of the trust and service users in other organisations, such as Suffolk Community Healthcare and Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust.

The Green Light Toolkit enables adjustments to be made to ensure service users receive healthcare in the same way as everyone else.

Trust operations manager for Suffolk Peter Devlin said: “This is a remarkable achievement for Sue and our team of Green Light Champions.

“Their collective efforts have truly transformed the culture of our services and the way in which people with learning disabilities and autism access mental health services,” he said.

She was nominated for the award by a former service user who has autism and a modern matron from the trust.

Along with winners from the Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland National Learning Disabilities and Autism Awards 2018, Ms Bridges will go through to a UK final in the autumn.

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