A lead practice nurse from Leicester was named Nursing in Practice Nurse of the Year at the General Practice Awards 2017 for revamping her practice in under 12 months.
Reena Patel, clinical manager at The Croft Medical Centre, won the prize at a glittering ceremony in central London last night (30 November) and was praised for going ‘above and beyond’ for her practice and patient care.
Within the space of a year, Ms Patel’s role has been recognised at both CCG level, where she has been elected onto the board as a nursing advisor, as well as by the Royal College of General Practitioners where she joined their panel as a nursing advisor.
Before she took on the role of lead nurse in 2016, Ms Patel’s practice had been over budget for the past three years. Her colleagues described her as an ‘outstanding nurse’ and a ‘credit to her profession’.
She reduced the practice spend on long-term drugs by approximately £15,000, without compromising patient care, to bring it within budget for the first time since 2014.
As part of her work on chronic conditions, Ms Patel was instrumental in developing diabetes and anticoagulation services in Leicester City over just eight months.
Her significant contribution towards anticoagulation services ensured that patient care in the area can now safely be transferred from secondary care to primary care to ensure GPs are able to initiate warfarin safely.
Ms Patel also dedicates her time to upskilling nurses to ensure they are able to offer high quality diabetes care, which has so far led to a 70% increase in uptake of referrals to diabetes prevention programmes and a 53% increase in uptake for pulmonary rehabilitation programmes for COPD stage 3 patients.
She educated her clinical colleagues on the processes to recognise at-risk and high-risk patients for chronic conditions, and ensured a task was sent to administrators to contact the patients to make them aware of the programme, and obtain consent if they wished to be referred.
This work led to the practice being recognised as a diabetes prevention programme champion.
The GP Award judges also recognised Ms Patel for successfully developing new nursing appointment systems at her practice by reviewing appointment times and procedures.
She also set up robust infection control and stock control procedures to ensure that her nursing team is able to, in their own words, ‘seemlessly organise their day to day role effectively and contribute significantly to the running of the practice.’
With NHS Leicester City CCG looking to find efficiencies in its drug budget, Ms Patel ensured that diabetes patients on blood glucose testing strips were either switched or prescribed appropriately against guidance, as well as switching COPD/asthma inhaler regimes to ensure prescribing was appropriate to the number of metered doses, and synchronised all medications so that respiratory patients only need to have one medication review per year during their yearly reviews.
In the handing over of INR patients from secondary care to primary care, Ms Patel was able to reveal safety concerns within the handover process and through raising questions was instrumental in devising a new INR protocol.
The protocol involves baselines being met within secondary care and bridging plans for more complex patients before handing over to primary care. By adopting this approach, it made it possible for Leicester City practices to take at least 600 patients back into primary care and free up much needed resources in secondary care.
Ms Patel’s nursing team said: ‘Reena has become a beacon for nursing in primary care. Within the last eight months she has worked selflessly and strived for the benefit of others. She is a true professional and her dedication to her profession is a energising breath of fresh air in the challenging times faced within NHS. Her commitment is an example to others and is evidence that doing the best for patient care has no limits and we should all try to exceed our goals.’
Nursing in Practice editor, David Swan, said at the ceremony: ‘It’s a fantastic showcase of the impact nurses are having in primary care, and I’m delighted we were able to celebrate Ms Patel’s incredible efforts tonight. It can sometimes seem difficult to find positive stories like this around the nursing profession, because they have a tendency to get buried beneath the constant struggles over getting a deserved pay rise, or yet another story on declining numbers of nurses in general practice. This award is a great vehicle for putting the unsung work of GPNs front and centre.’
Other winners at the General Practice Awards included Professor Aneez Esmail, who won the Lifetime Achievement Award for his work battling against racial discrimination in the NHS, and Dr Karen Brown, a single-handed GP from Nottinghamshire, who won the GP of the Year prize.