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And the winner is … introducing the NiP Awards 2008

Looking for an opportunity to share your expertise and innovative ideas with other primary care specialists across the UK, plus the chance to win £500? The Nursing in Practice Awards may be just up your street

With rows over extended opening hours, the recent PCT structural changes with the resultant frozen posts and professional insecurity, and fears over how we will cope when the inevitable bird flu pandemic finally arrives, it is sometimes hard to remember that there is a lot to feel positive about in primary and community care. But we at Nursing in Practice know that there is excellent work going on out there, and we want to reward it.
With this in mind we decided to launch the Nursing in Practice Awards 2008. These will reward best practice in a variety of clinical areas, and are designed to recognise excellence and innovation in the primary care setting.
Applications are invited from individual nurses or teams of primary healthcare professionals who have undertaken projects to improve the quality of care for groups of patients in the following clinical areas:

Cardiac care
Coronary heart disease kills over 100,000 people in the UK every year. Cardiac nurses play a vital role in helping people with heart failure to live fuller, longer lives, reduce their likelihood of hospital admission and retain independence in their own homes. This award aims to recognise a nurse, team or project that has had a positive impact on their patients' heart health.

Childhood immunisation
Keeping children safe and healthy is one of the most satisfying parts of the primary care nurse role. The childhood immunisation programme is vital to protect children from certain serious and painful diseases that can result in long-term health problems, or in severe cases, death. However, it is not just a question of dishing out injections. There has been much misinformation about vaccinations, with parents opting out of the programme, confused that the vaccine is worse than the condition it is preventing. The childhood immunisation award will go to a primary care nurse or team who have developed an innovative method of delivering the immunisation programme while keeping parents and guardians completely informed and thereby keeping babies and children safe.

Dermatology
Over eight million people in the UK have some form of skin disease, and often the practice nurse is their first port of call for treatment. Managing skin conditions effectively requires a good deal of knowledge and empathy, and patients require support in the form of education, demonstration of treatment application techniques and discussion of lifestyle issues, as well as psychological support. The dermatology award seeks to find the clinic or project working most effectively to support dermatology patients' clinical and psychological needs.

Diabetes
The diabetes population is expected to reach 2.5 million by 2010, and the NHS is set to spend around 10% of its budget (around £9bn) on diabetes care this year alone. Frontline healthcare professionals face increasing pressure to deliver individual help as PCTs are forced to develop programmes to deal with a condition with the potential to overwhelm the health service. This award seeks to recognise an individual or practice working most effectively with their diabetes patients, helping them to manage a self-care regimen while continuing with their day-to-day lives.

Mental health including dual diagnosis
This is often viewed as the "Cinderella" of healthcare provision. Despite general attitudes towards mental health illness gradually changing, professionals in this field still face considerable difficulties in obtaining adequate funding and recognition for the difficult and complex work they undertake with some of the most vulnerable members of society. This award seeks to recognise an individual or project working towards improving the lives of those living with mental health issues.

Obesity
Probably the most dominant health issue of the day, the problems surrounding obesity afflict everyone from young to old. With an abundance of information on diet, exercise, environmental and even genetic factors contributing to obesity, patients can often feel overwhelmed, and really want just simple, straightforward advice they can follow backed up with support and treatment when needed. This award seeks to find an innovative and practical obesity management project, helping to combat this worrying trend.

Respiratory care
For people with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) loss of physical vitality, social interaction and self-worth, and in extreme cases loss of hope, are just some of the manifest symptoms of this disease. Meanwhile asthma remains one of the most prevalent long-term conditions and the recent smoking legislation has made smoking cessation services a priority for primary care. This award will recognise excellence in working with patients with respiratory conditions, helping to improve their lives and their symptoms.

Sexual health
A cultural reluctance to talk openly and frankly about sexual health matters is probably the biggest hurdle facing sexual healthcare professionals. The nation's high rates of teenage pregnancy, increasing demand for abortions and the rise in the incidence of STIs means excellence in the application of services is more important now than it has ever been. This award seeks to find a leading education and prevention programme in the field of sexual health.

Travel health
The field of travel health has grown over the last decade as an increasing number of Britons travel abroad. Therefore informing people of the many and varied health hazards they may encounter in foreign countries is of increasing importance. Combating deep vein thrombosis (DVT) on long-haul flights, ensuring an up-to-date and correct immunisation history before travelling, and practical advice on sexual health are just some of the factors involved in a good travel health service. This award seeks to recognise the most active and productive travel clinic in a primary care setting.

Team of the Year
This award seeks to recognise teamwork in primary care. It will go to a team working in a primary care or community setting that has created the most innovative approach to healthcare delivery.

How to enter
Clinical projects will be evaluated on the following key criteria:

  • Clearly defined objectives for quality improvement within the project.
  • Clearly described interventions.
  • Innovation and new ways of working.
  • Clarity of leadership and how the qualities have effected the team.
  • Robust data collection and analysis, showing measured improvements in patient care, including clinical outcomes.
  • The sustainability of the changes observed.
  • The ability to be replicated across other practices.

We have assembled a panel of judges made up of key experts in each clinical area, who will review all projects submitted.
As well as the opportunity to have your work reviewed by leaders in primary healthcare we also offer the winner of each award £500. The top three projects will also be presented with a certificate of achievement at our awards ceremony taking place at the NiP Birmingham Event at the NEC on 19 November 2008.
Top nominees will also be given the opportunity to showcase their work in Nursing in Practice magazine and on www.nursinginpractice.com, and the winner will be invited to talk about their work at a future Nursing in Practice Event of their choice.
We invite all primary and community care nurses and teams to enter. The closing date for receipt of all nominations is 23 May 2008. For more information, including full details of our judges and comprehensive notes on how to enter, go to www.nursinginpractice.com/awards