A community nurse from Liverpool said she was "honoured" to be named 'Nurse of the Year' at the General Practice Awards 2011 for designing and leading a service to improve older people's health and wellbeing.
More than 450 healthcare professionals paid tribute to the hard work, innovation and dedication of GP surgery teams across the UK at the glittering awards ceremony in London on 16 November.
Diane Singleton, Lead Nurse for Older People at Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust, was a triple winner, as she went on to victory in the 'Clinical Team of the Year Award' category and was presented with a £2,500 bursary prize from BMI Healthcare to spend on developing the 'Liveability Service' she designed and leads herself.
The Liveability Service focuses on maintaining older people's health and independence through early, targeted prevention. The service, which involves holistic assessments by nurses visiting older people in their homes and the provision of sports and activity sessions, has improved the health of its patients and reduced hospital admissions, falls and accidents and prescribing costs.
Singleton (pictured with awards host Dr Phil Hammond) said she was "on cloud nine" to win the awards. The recognition has a special value, since she has taken an effective pay cut to continue to lead the service, which she wants to see rolled out across the city.
"It's a job I'm passionate about and I love," she told NiP. "The service is my baby, my creation and I want to see it through to the end."
Singleton said she hoped the awards would "add weight" to development of the Liveability project. "Hopefully it will put pressure on commissioners and those with influence and funding to invest in the service so we can roll it out so anyone in the city can have access to it," she said.
She described the awards occasion as "a lovely, lovely night. The 16 November is a night I won't forget in a hurry, that's for sure."
"Sometimes I think nurses are not given the free reign to impress upon managers their ideas and visions. I was lucky I had a good manager who gave me that," she said.
"There's lots of nurses out there like me but it's being able to get their voices heard and giving them the opportunity. Innovation will only come from frontline staff who see the gaps that need filling."
The General Practice Awards were organised by Campden Media, which publishes Nursing in Practice, GP Business and Management in Practice.
The awards ceremony, held at the luxury Lancaster London Hotel, was hosted by TV personality Phil Hammond, a GP and comedian who brought an irreverent humour to proceedings with jokes about NHS reform in England.
Dr Hammond said the government's controversial NHS reforms were nothing new. "The Health and Social Care Bill has been described as once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," he joked. "But we've been told about three once-in-a-lifetime opportunities in the last 12 years.
"Either someone's not telling the truth or life expectancy is getting much shorter."
Dr Hammond, who recently jousted with Health Secretary Andrew Lansley on the BBC's Question Time, went on to describe the Health Bill as "unintelligible". He told guests it was frontline healthcare staff, and not structural reform or top-down demands, that "really make a difference" to patient care.
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