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An advanced nurse practitioner responsible for the launch of nurse-led clinics for people in prison in the North West has been crowned Nursing Times nurse of the year for 2020.
Helen Bishton from Spectrum Community Health has dedicated more than 10 years to offender healthcare and has been praised for her efforts in supporting both patients and colleagues across three prisons.
“We all do an amazing job for amazing people every day and I think every nurse deserves this award”
At the 2020 Nursing Times Awards, which were held virtually on its 30th anniversary last night, Ms Bishton picked up the nurse of the year award, which this year had been renamed the Florence Nightingale Nurse of the Year, to mark the bicentenary of Florence Nightingale.
She was presented the prestigious award by group clinical director for Spire Healthcare, Alison Dickenson, who said the judges found Ms Bishton “demonstrated passion, drive and patient-centred care to overcome barriers and delivered a service to improve health inequalities”.
Ms Bishton, who is a nurse prescriber and trained as an advanced nurse practitioner in 2019, said she was completely “overwhelmed” to receive the award.
Speaking to the nurses attending the virtual ceremony, she said: “I just want to say we all do an amazing job for amazing people every day and I think every nurse deserves this award.”
She also thanked her manager, who was currently in hospital, and the “fantastic” team of nurses and allied health professionals she worked alongside.
Colleagues who nominated Ms Bishton for the award said she had improved patient experiences by introducing advanced nurse practitioner clinics for offenders that helped reduce waiting times and resolved many day-to-day health concerns for individuals.
By spearheading these clinics, her organisation felt this helped to “embed a nurse-led approach across the wider healthcare team, building on the skills of nurse practitioners and non-medical prescribers and allowing GPs the time to prioritise complex care”.
In her role, Ms Bishton also provides support to up-skill nursing colleagues and ensure they have opportunities for education and training.
She also delivers a range of supervision and clinical support to nurses on issues such as pain management and tradeable medications, substance use, long-term conditions and palliative care.
During 2018-19, Ms Bishton had also played a “key role” in a pain management project at Lancaster Farms prison, which worked to reduce the use of pain medications and promote safer prescribing.
Overall, colleagues said Ms Bishton’s work has had a “significant impact on patients, reducing waiting time to access healthcare and GP appointment and improving their experience of the healthcare service”.
Notably, between 2018 and 2019 the average GP waiting time at Lancaster Farms prison had reduced from five-and-a-half weeks to two-and-a-half weeks.
Colleagues said she was an “extremely hard-working, compassionate nurse who frequently demonstrates commitment to patients who present with some of the most complex and serious healthcare needs”.
Ms Bishton “goes out of her way to make herself available if someone else needs support and is always pleasant and approachable, no matter what the pressures or circumstances might be”, they added.
See here for the full list of winners from the 2020 Nursing Times Awards.