Two local nurses were among those honoured at this year’s Royal College of Nursing 20th annual Northern Ireland Nurse of the Year Awards.
Geraldine Maguire, from Gilford, was runner-up in the Brownlee-Silverdale Leadership Award, while Jane Ferguson from Dromore won the Public Health Award, sponsored by the Public Health Agency.
The awards were presented at a special Hillsborough Castle ceremony marking the RCN’s centenary.
There, Geraldine, Southern Trust Assistant Director for specialist child health and disability, was awarded for her leadership across a range of services.
“Geraldine has restructured the directorate to maximise the contribution of nursing and has made significant improvements in services,” a spokesperson said.
“She had the vision to develop acute children’s services through the implementation of a nurse-led ambulatory care model.
“This has led to a 25% reduction in the number of patient beds used by young people.
“The judging panel complimented Geraldine for her excellent leadership, support of staff and improving the delivery of nursing care to children and young people.”
Sponsor, Roberta Brownlee, presented Geraldine with her award.
Dromore woman Jane, meanwhile, has since May 2013 been Health Co-ordinator with the Southern Trust’s Hearty Lives Craigavon project, which aims to improve the cardiac health of members of the Irish traveller and black and minority ethnic communities in the Craigavon area.
“Jane’s work focuses on supporting individuals to make healthy lifestyle choices to improve their health,” said the spokesperson.
“She has developed strong partnerships with local community and voluntary organisations to give health information and advice to those most in need, and has worked hard to break down barriers such as lack of trust, literacy and language difficulties that can prevent access to the service.
“The judging panel was impressed by Jane’s clear understanding of the needs of marginalised communities and her determination to take the service to the patients, describing her as a wonderful example of how public health is everyone’s business.”
RCN Northern Ireland Director Janice Smyth ,said of the awards: “Despite the challenges nursing and the wider health service has faced in recent times, it is important to recognise and value the excellent care nurses provide to the people of Northern Ireland.