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This year’s Mary Seacole award winners unveiled

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Five nursing and midwifery professionals have been recognised for their outstanding contribution to the health of black and ethnic minority communities.

The winners of the 2015 Mary Seacole Leadership and Development Awards were announced yesterday afternoon at a ceremony hosted by the Royal College of Midwives in London.

“Their winning projects are forward thinking, culturally sensitive and patient centred”

Janet Fyle

The five winners are midwives Gergana Nikolova and Aissa Edon, public health nurses Raj Adgopul and Joanne McEwan, and academic Judith Ormrod.

Ms McEwan and Ms Edon have received leadership awards, while the other three have been given awards for developments.

As well as their awards, they will receive funding to further develop a series of projects aimed at improving health and healthcare among BME communities (more details below).

The recipients of leadership awards are given up to £12,500 each to enhance effective leadership and communication skills, while recipients of development awards are given up to £6,250 to help develop their leadership skills.

The awards were first created in 1994 in memory of Mary Seacole who is considered to have made a significant contribution to the development of nursing in the 19th century, while giving aid to allied troops during the Crimean war.

“For over 20 years, the awards have inspired staff to reduce health inequalities”

Janet Davies

The awards were jointly funded by the Department of Health and NHS Employers, working in partnership with the royal colleges of midwives and nursing, and fellow unions Unison and Unite.

Janet Fyle, professional policy advisor at the RCM and chair of the Mary Seacole Steering Group Committee, said the award winners’ dedication to improving care and outcomes for BME patients was “inspiring and cannot be underestimated”.

She noted that the five winners of the Mary Seacole awards would be invited to come back next year to “showcase their talents and inspire other healthcare professionals to do the same in the future”.

“Their winning projects are forward thinking, culturally sensitive and patient centred and will improve the healthcare experience people from BME communities receive,” she added.

Mary Seacole

Mary Seacole

Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “Mary Seacole is a true nursing icon and these awards are a fitting testimony to her legacy.

“For over 20 years, the awards have inspired staff to reduce health inequalities and without these projects, much of the unmet health needs would continue to go unrecognised,” she added.


The 2015 Mary Seacole winning projects

Gergana Nikolova – senior midwife, Frimley Health and NHS Foundation Trust

Project: Online Antenatal and Postnatal Education Program

This project provides antenatal and postnatal information to mothers to be and their families in their own language.

Gergana Nikolova said: “This project is providing a tool for women to access antenal care which has been identified as paramount in improving outcomes for pregnant women and their babies. Being able to provide them with information they can understand at the very first point of contact with a midwife is crucial.”

Raj Adgopul – specialist community public health nurse, VH Doctors Limited

Project: UK care pathway App

Raj Adgopul said: “This App will help recent migrants or visitors to the UK navigate the healthcare system appropriately. A significant proportion of those who fail to access healthcare are from minority ethnic communities. There is also a rise in the number of unnecessary attendance at emergency services where economic migrants have settled.”

Joanne McEwan – health visitor, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust

Project: Protect and Prevent Girls from female genital mutilation; an App to assist health professionals in practice

Joanne McEwan said: “FGM affects women from BME backgrounds. The app will help HPs identify girls at risk of FGM, empower them with information to enable discussions and provide guidance for best practice. Ultimately it will assist in protecting girls from FGM and direct FGM survivors to appropriate support and medical services.”

Judith Ormrod – lecturer (nursing) at School of Nursing, University of Manchester

Project: Increasing the knowledge and competency of student nurses to provide culturally competent care to clients who have experienced or are at risk of experiencing FGM/C

Judith Ormrod said: “By increasing the knowledge base of student nurses it is hoped a heightened awareness of providing culturally sensitive care will improve the experience of NHS care from the patient’s perspective in a variety of settings across the UK.”

Aissa Edon – community midwife team leader, Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Trust

Project: What are the psychological and psychosexual needs of women who have undergone FGM in the UK?

Aissa Edon said: “For survivors of FGM care is often reported as variable FGM women care is often reported to be variable depending on location. Whilst physical need is well documented; little is known about the psychological and psychosocial needs of women affected by FGM. It is essential this area is researched into.”


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