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Nurses rewarded for reducing inequalities in BME communities

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Six nurses have received grants to fund their innovative work with black and minority ethnic communities (BME) across the UK.

The nurses attended a special ceremony to mark the annual Mary Seacole Awards last Thursday at the Royal College of Nursing in London.

The event was attended by NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens and chief nursing officer for England Jane Cummings. 

“The awards are also a unique platform for nurses and midwives to progress in their careers”

Dave Prentis

The awards were created in 1994 in honour of Mary Seacole, who was born in Jamaica in 1805, and cared for wounded British soldiers during the Crimean War.

Up to £12,500 of funding to help enhance effective leadership and communication will be available for the two winners in the “leadership” categories, while up to £6,250 is available for each of the four winners in the “development” category.

Funding is provided by Health Education England, NHS Employers and the Department of Health and is awarded in association with the Royal College of Nursing, the Royal College of Midwives, Unison and Unite.

The projects the winners will be undertaking include:

Mary Seacole

Mary Seacole

  • changing attitudes towards organ donations within the BME communities
  • examining factors that influence leadership development in BME hospital staff
  • exploring hospital patients’ experiences; developing better support for EU-Migrant families
  • addressing language barriers to improve communication between nurses and patients and exploring student nurses’ experiences

Peter Carter, RCN chief executive and general secretary said: “These winners should feel immensely proud as they have proved that even during challenging times, providing high quality patient care continues to be the beating heart of nursing.

“Since the first awards 20 years ago, nurses have devised and implemented programmes to reduce health inequalities in hard-to-reach groups who are often marginalised and neglected,” he said. “Their work has often led to changes in local, national and international policy.”

Unite lead professional officer Obi Amadi added: “One of the things that is most impressive about the Mary Seacole Awards is the continuing high standard of the entries over recent years.

Obi Amadi, Unite

Obi Amadi

“I am full of admiration for the dedication that the entrants have shown, the innovation that has gone into developing new ideas, and the creativity displayed,” she said.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “These awards are important because they focus on addressing health inequality, which helps to improve, shape and change the patient experience. 

“The awards are also a unique platform for nurses and midwives to progress in their careers,” he said.  


Mary Seacole Leadership Award Winners 2014

Angela Ditchfield, Specialist Nurse Organ Donation

Project: Changing attitudes towards organ donation within Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Communities


Parveen Ali, Lecturer, School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Sheffield

Project: Reducing communication barriers through Language concordant communication and nurses from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Community


Mary Seacole Development Award Winners 2014

Hille Halonen, Health Visitor, Bradford District Care Trust NHS

Project: Supporting EU-Migrant Families with parent and Infant Relationships for Positive Mental Health


Joy Shaom, Senior Lecturer, Northumbria University

Project: An Exploration of Student Nurses’ Lived Experience in Intercultural Encounters in Practice


Pamela Makwehem, Nurse, Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, Nottingham University Hospital

Project: Factors influencing leadership development in BME staff at Nottingham University Hospitals


Selina Jarvis, Honorary Research and Audit Nurse, Kings College Hospital

Project: A study to promote understanding of patient satisfaction and experience during admissions with acute heart failure (AHF) in BME populations in Lambeth.

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