This site is intended for health professionals only

Meet the Nurse of the Year shortlist: Darwen Healthcare nursing team

Meet the Nurse of the Year shortlist: Darwen Healthcare nursing team

We caught up with the Nurse/Nursing Team of the Year Award shortlist ahead of this year’s General Practice Awards ceremony to be held on 8 December in London.

The fifth entry under the spotlight from this year’s shortlist of seven is the nursing team at Darwen Healthcare in Lancashire.

The team describes itself as providing evidence-based holistic care to practice patients, with staff ‘incredibly passionate’ about helping people. Patients are provided with information on how they can take ownership of their health, with the aim of promoting self-management plans and giving people the information and confidence to live with their conditions.

The team seeks to provide quality care, working together and displaying enthusiasm about making change possible for patients, while also understanding that people don’t always fit into a box. With that in mind, staff have developed ways to make ‘collaborative compromise’ to build trust and engage in a joint endeavour to improve patients’ health.

Business manager Ann Neville encourages a bottom-up approach, with every member of the team providing an element of leadership, from HCAs to ANPs, and all have been involved in leading quality improvement initiatives in hypertension case finding, pre-diabetes and diabetes, osteopenia and osteoporosis and child immunisation, as well as optimising bowel and cervical smear screening.

Entry highlights

The upskilling of HCAs and APs has freed up time for practice nurses to focus on complex chronic disease, and utilising student nurse placements has helped to promote best practice. Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, they continued to provide face-to-face appointments, manage chronic disease registers, and administer vaccinations on-site.

The team’s work on pre-diabetes education has grown the register of patients with an HbA1c of between 42-47 from 325 in 2017 to the current figure of 1,007, allowing them to provide educational advice to help more individuals avoid diabetes. The team’s efforts saw only 2.33% of pre-diabetic patients progress to diabetes in 2021/22, and 4.81% in 2022/23.

Additionally, the Darwen staff have made great strides in spirometry and FeNO testing, and have maintained a high level of child immunisation uptake, achieving above-target rates for various vaccinations.

Last year, a children’s flu bubble party was held, with all children receiving a gift pack for their involvement. The team’s PCN also took part in a pilot to visit nursery schools to encourage uptake.

The practice has been proactive in developing its Covid vaccination approach, with weekend and evening clinics held.

A robust process for shingles vaccinations has also seen 66% of all eligible patients vaccinated in 2021/23 and 71% of all eligible patients vaccinated in 2022/23.

The team’s dedication to cervical smear awareness weeks achieved participation rates of 80% and 81%.

The nursing team, working collaboratively with a lead GP and community pharmacists, have also added 205 patients to the hypertension register over a 12-month period.

A focus on health and wellbeing is evident through the nursing team’s daily huddle.

What they said

‘The nursing team at Darwen Healthcare are amazing,’ said Anne Crook, vice chair of the patient participation group. ‘They are caring, understanding, have bags of empathy and are always upskilling and obtaining more knowledge for the benefit of their patients showing just how much they care.’

Monique Marcolini of the Pennine Lancashire Training Hub said: ‘The practice shows commitment to upskill staff by continually promoting training opportunities. They engage with funding available through the training hub in areas such as heart failure, spirometry refresher, immunisation updates, CKD study days and hypertension and diabetes.

‘The practice encourages the team to attend events and to host student nurse and paramedic placements for their development, which has greatly contributed to the success of the practice and individual staff members.’

Last year, Wales-based general practice nurse Janette Morgan won the Practice Nursing Award after demonstrating her impact on chronic disease management in her locality.

See here for more information about this year’s General Practice Awards and the gala dinner and ceremony, which will be held at the Novotel London West on Friday 8 December.


See how our symptom tool can help you make better sense of patient presentations
Click here to search a symptom