South Eastern Trust Mental Health Nurse wins RCN Nurse of the Year


Emma McKinney, a specialist nurse practitioner working in child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) in the South Eastern Trust was celebrating, Thursday 6 June, when she won the RCN Northern Ireland Nurse of the Year Award 2019.

Organised by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), Emma was presented with the award at a special ceremony held at the Culloden Hotel, Holywood.

Emma, who is based at Woodlands Juvenile Justice Centre in Bangor, works with young people within the criminal justice system who can often experience difficulties accessing community mental health, despite the fact that they can experience extensive problems such as drug and alcohol misuse, homelessness and abuse.

Emma was nominated for her role in implementing a protocol for supporting the transfer of care between Woodlands and community CAMHS teams in the five HSC trusts. This protocol has resolved issues including inadequate discharge planning and inconsistencies in service provision. Most importantly, 100% of young people who accessed the service prior to leaving Woodlands are now able to receive care and support from their local trust CAMHS team.

Emma’s nominator says: “Through her unwavering, effortless, style and enthusiastic practice, she not only seeks to improve the continued mental health provision for these young people, but she has also built close working relationships, peer support and mutual respect for those involved in this process”. The mother of one young person told Emma: “You’re the first person that listened to my son”.

Commenting on the awards, Director of the RCN in Northern Ireland, Pat Cullen, said:  “Emma McKinney’s determination to secure equality of access to services has made a huge difference to a vulnerable group of young people who rely upon them.

“Thanks to Emma, young people leaving custody can now receive care and support from their local trust CAMHS team, ensuring that there is continuity of care and that they receive the help they need. The impact this can have upon their future cannot be underestimated.”