RCN Nurse of Year Award Winners


Congratulations to our nurses who won awards at the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Northern Ireland Nurse of the Year Awards 2018 held recently in the Culloden Hotel, Holywood

Joanne McConnell won the Learning Disability Award sponsored by Priory Adult Care. As Deputy Sister, Joanne was nominated for her outstanding work with people with autistic spectrum disorder who attend the Emergency Department at the Ulster Hospital.   She recognised that attending an Emergency Department could be a traumatic experience for this group, with sensory overload from the noise and volume of people causing some to become distressed and frightened. She developed an Emergency Department passport which helps patients to document what can trigger distress and an ASD room for patients to wait following triage that provides a quiet space with foam mat flooring and distraction aids.

Pictured (L-R) are: James Willis, Priory Adult Care, Joanne McConnell, winner of the Learning Disability Award and Janice Smyth, Director of the RCN in Northern Ireland.

Anne Phillips jointly won the Patient’s Choice Award, sponsored by the Patient and Client Council alongside Mary Kane, from the Northern Trust. Anne is a Community Psychiatric Nurse in the South Eastern Trust and was nominated by a patient who, in her own words, suffers from borderline personality disorder, depression and anxiety. The patient described how Anne went above and beyond her role to help her lead a normal life, something that she thought she would never be able to do.

Pictured (L-R) are: Louise Skelly, Patient and Client Council, Anne Phillips and Mary Kane, winners of the Patient’s Choice Award and Janice Smyth, Director of the RCN in Northern Ireland.

Roisin Devlin Emergency Department Lead Nurse in the Trust, was presented with the Nurse Leadership Award, sponsored by Roberta Brownlee and Silverdale Care Home. Roisin was nominated for her leadership of the three Emergency Departments in the Trust through a period of significant change. Roisin introduced a new key performance indicator for monitoring pain relief and has prioritised meeting the needs of older people attending Emergency Departments through a range of initiatives. Key performance indicators have improved significantly as a result of the measures Roisin has introduced.

Pictured (L-R) are: Geraldine Brown, Silverdale Care Home, Roisin Devlin, winner of the Brownlee-Silverdale Leadership Award and Janice Smyth, Director of the RCN in Northern Ireland.

Tracey Steenson won the Chief Nursing Officer’s Award, sponsored by the Department of Health. Tracey is a Rapid Response Co-ordinator in the Trust. She was nominated for her work with the iron deficiency anaemia clinic that treats patients in in community clinics closer to home avoiding repetitive blood transfusions which can take up to five hours each. Piloted in the Down area, suitable patients now receive intravenous iron infusions rather than blood transfusions, resulting in an overall reduction in treatment time from 980 hours to 49. This has reduced the need for emergency department admission, the risk to patients is reduced and significant financial savings have been made.

Pictured (L-R) are: Charlotte McArdle, Chief Nursing Officer, Department of Health, Tracey Steenson, winner of the CNO Award and Janice Smyth, Director of the RCN in Northern Ireland.


This is the 22nd year of the Northern Ireland Nurse of the Year Awards which have highlighted some of the best examples of nursing practice. Despite the wider health service continuing to face challenges, particularly during this period where there is a vacuum in political leadership, it is important to recognise and value the excellent care nurses provide to the people of Northern Ireland.