A specialist nurse who works in Norfolk and Suffolk has been named as the best learning disability nurse in England.
Sue Bridges from the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) picked up the award at a ceremony at the ICC in Birmingham on Friday.
She was one of nine nurses who had been shortlisted in The Learning Disability Nurse Award category of The National Learning Disabilities & Autism Awards 2018, and emerged as the overall winner.
In addition, NSFT was one of just six organisations shortlisted in The Employer Award (Not For Profit) category for the high quality care it provides to people with learning disabilities and / or autism.
Friday's awards ceremony came just one day after NSFT learned that it had been shortlisted in the Learning Disabilities Nursing category of the Nursing Times Awards 2018.
Sue, NSFT's Professional Lead for Learning Disabilities / Autism, said: "I am incredibly proud to have won this prestigious award.
"As a learning disability nurse, I've spent my career striving to make a difference and to ensure equality for people with a learning disability. My career has been a rewarding one and I would recommend being a learning disabilities nurse to anyone.
"I am humbled by all the amazing LD nurses that champion care for people with learning disabilities every day so this award goes to all the LD nurses who have supported me throughout my 30-year career."
Sue is based in Endeavour House, Ipswich, but her role takes her across both counties where he responsibilities include offering clinical advice, delivering training to staff and liaising with partner organisations.
Along with winners from the Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland National Learning Disabilities & Autism Awards 2018, Sue will go through to a UK final in the autumn.
NSFT has almost 200 "Green Light Champions", who are led by Sue and who are people with a particular interest or expertise in learning disabilities and / or autism who promote best practice. They include staff working in all areas of the Trust, service users and champions in other organisations, such as Suffolk Community Healthcare and Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust.
People with learning disabilities and / or autism as well as additional mental health problems have complex needs and require support and advice to enable them to access services. The Green Light Toolkit enables adjustments to be made to ensure these service users receive health care in the same way as everyone else.
Dawn Collins, Interim Director of Nursing, Quality and Patient Safety, said: "I am really proud of Sue and all the Green Light Champions.
"At the heart of this enormously important initiative is the clear desire to drive out inequalities in our health and care system. The determination and whole-hearted commitment that the Green Light Champions, under Sue's inspirational leadership, have taken to this mission is nothing short of outstanding.
"With the support of the team, NSFT is making a real difference to the lives of people with learning disabilities and autism under our care. "
NSFT's operations manager for Suffolk Peter Devlin said: "This is a remarkable achievement for Sue and our team of Green Light Champions.
"Their collective efforts have truly transformed the culture of our services and the way in which people with learning disabilities and autism access mental health services. We are extremely proud of this deserved recognition and determined to build on the success so far."
She was nominated for The Learning Disability Nurse Award by a former service user who has autism and a modern matron from NSFT.
Sue is a Registered Nurse Learning Disabilities (RNLD) with more than 30 years' experience in learning disabilities. Her post was created in 2015 to ensure NSFT provides the most appropriate services to meet the needs of people with a learning disability and / or autism.
The National Learning Disabilities & Autism Awards celebrate excellence in the support for people with learning disabilities and aim to pay tribute to those individuals or organisations who excel in providing quality care.
The Learning Disability Nurse Award acknowledges the important role that specialist nurses have in promoting the emotional, physical and psychological health of the people who they support.
The Employer Award seeks to acknowledge an exceptional employer who is committed to their employees delivering an excellent service to their customers, people with learning disabilities or people with autism and their families.
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