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Yorkshire nurses transforming care of people with a learning disability up for top accolade

A team of nurses addressing the gaps in care for people with a learning disability have been shortlisted for a prestigious UK award.

Led by Paula Spooner and Fiona Sharp, from Wakefield Clinical Commissioning Group and South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, the team are finalists in the NHS England-sponsored Community and General Practice Nursing category of the RCN Nursing Awards 2021.

They were shortlisted for the profession’s top accolade for nursing excellence by a panel of nurse leaders from hundreds of entries and will find out if they have won at a live-streamed ceremony on October 12. The RCN Nurse of the Year 2021 selected from all the category winners will be announced at the event.

To improve the health outcomes of people with learning disabilities by early recognition and treatment of respiratory conditions, this team – led by nurse consultant Paula Spooner and strategic health facilitator Fiona Sharp – focused on training and raising awareness among the general practice workforce as it realised they were pivotal to addressing health inequalities.

It has worked with practices, secondary care and specialist learning disability clinicians to develop skills to assess, monitor and treat respiratory conditions in people with a learning disability in the community.

Strong collaboration with people with a learning disability, families and carers has shaped services, and helped provide accessible information and a specific care plan for this vulnerable group.

Chief nursing officer for England Ruth May says: ‘NHS England and NHS Improvement is delighted to sponsor the community and general practice nursing category to recognise and celebrate the compassion, dedication and leadership of colleagues.

 ‘It has been fantastic to see examples of the skills, patient insights and innovations that community and general practice nurses are delivering to support the ambitions set out in national Community Nursing Plan and the NHS Long Term Plan.

‘I have been so pleased to see the achievements of many colleagues and I would like to thank and congratulate all the finalists.’

RCN general secretary Pat Cullen said: ‘This shortlist highlights nursing’s response to the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic, but also highlights what we do – day in, day out – to improve the health and well-being of our patients.

‘These finalists demonstrate the very best in nursing and I am so proud of all of them.’

Foundation of Nursing Studies chief executive and awards judging panel chair Joanne Bosanquet said: ‘The quality of entries was so high and it was near impossible to choose our finalists from the amazing work submitted.

‘The shortlist showcases excellence and recognises the huge difference that the nursing team makes to people’s lives throughout the UK – not least their enormous contribution to the pandemic response.’