We have caught up with the Practice Nursing Award shortlist ahead of this year’s General Practice Awards, run by our publisher Cogora, which will be held on 9 December at a glitzy ceremony at Novotel London West.
The second entry under the spotlight from this year’s shortlist of five is Antonia Alcaraz.
Antonia Alcaraz, or ‘Toni’ to her colleagues, is a nurse practitioner at Cornerstone Practice in March, a small market town in Cambridgeshire. Toni set up the practice’s anti-coagulation service seven years ago – something that without Toni, her colleagues say, wouldn’t have happened.
The system now runs ‘seamlessly’, and Toni has not only taken on work in the treatment room, she is midway through her Master’s with a view to becoming an advanced nurse practitioner. Toni juggles her roles as ANP, anticoagulation lead and treatment room nurse to ensure patient continuity and safety.
The setting up of the March anticoagulation monitoring service was an unprecedented innovation. Never had a service been set up by one practice for the entire town population, and Toni was at the heart of this. Although she was an experienced specialist nurse, this was an entirely different venture, presenting unique challenges, not least the establishment of a secure information-sharing system across three different surgeries.
Initially, hundreds of patients needed details entered onto the system and a robust recall system was required. Then, Toni needed to ensure that all members of the team had the necessary training and reception staff were aware of how to book patients. Toni took on responsibility for warfarin initiation and had processes in place for this depending on whether for treatment or prevention. She also has put protocols in place for dosing of abnormal results and emergency treatment.
Toni has also established systems for initiation and ongoing monitoring of DOAC medication, ensuring patient safety and education. With the ongoing targets to change patients with AF from warfarin, she is working herself out of a job.
An example of her exceptional commitment to safe patient care is the occasion when she was in surgery on her day off and was told that a housebound patient had an INR of >8. She immediately set off on her bike to administer vitamin K – an occasion the team says has not been a one-off. She also advises clinicians not only in her own surgery, but others too.
Over the past seven years, thousands of residents in the town of March have benefited from the service and hundreds have been converted to the most suitable DOAC, their safety ensured by Toni’s careful attention to detail.
Her team describes her as level-headed, disciplined, hardworking and reliable, as well as ‘a privilege to work with’ and generous with her time. Her line manager says she is a ‘dream to manage’, organised and passionate, with a holistic approach to patient care, ensuring every consultation counts and, during this year, has single-handedly kept the childhood vaccinations service going.
She demonstrates this same discipline and commitment in her running – on top of everything else, she has run a marathon in under three hours!
What she said
‘I was totally unaware of the nomination until the shortlisted candidates were announced and some very excited colleagues came to inform and congratulate me. I am so humbled by their kindness and thoughtfulness to put me forward for this prestigious national award. I already feel so privileged to be part of this award ceremony that recognises the fantastic work our colleagues do across primary care. I am just one member of a hard-working, dedicated, and enthusiastic team. I would be delighted to take this award to The Cornerstone Practice in March, so that we, as a team, will be encouraged as we continue our work in bringing the best, innovative, and compassionate care, with the resources we have available, to the people we serve.’