Advancing healthcare awards. Northern Ireland 2022

Northern Ireland
Advancing Healthcare Awards Northern Ireland 2022 Winners 600 x 400
On 24 November 2022 Allied Health Professionals from across Northern Ireland were honoured. Two podiatrists, and RCPod members, were announced as winners on the night

Award for digital innovation

The Award for digital innovation was won by Peter Burbidge, Podiatry Head of Service, and Stephen Powell, Head of ICT Programmes and Projects, in South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust who created a network of Digital Champions

The innovative Digital Champions project was designed to create and support a network of digitally literate staff across all grades, disciplines, and roles so that they can provide crucial peer support for their colleagues and encourage them to have a better understanding of the technology available to them and how best to utilise it.

The project is working across boundaries and hierarchical structures, utilising the digital skills of the entire workforce to increase the digital literacy of their peers. All the technology used in Health and Social Care Northern Ireland (HSCNI) is designed to benefit both the clinician and the service user, but it can only do this if the clinicians know how to use it. The aim of this project was to ensure that HSC staff are equipped with the skills required to effectively use relevant digital technology and associated systems.

The programme has enlisted over 300 digital champions with each one enabled to respond to the digital queries of those needing help. Their contribution has made an instant difference on over 500 occasions. Staff struggling with ICT are able to contact the digital champions to get almost immediate solutions to their problems avoiding the need to queue for the ICT helpdesk. This has been supported by the digital champions e-mail system which has evolved to be a highly efficient, effective, and free ICT crowd sourced resource.

The Northern Ireland Digital strategy has made recommendations to expand the programme across the region.

Award for rising stars

Aoife McGrattan, a podiatrist in South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust, was one of the six AHPs honoured in the category. The judges noted that Aoife has a powerful mix of drive, resilience and compassion and showed maturity beyond her years.

When asked what drew her to podiatry, Aoife shared “I have always wanted to be a podiatrist since primary school. I remember attending a private podiatrist when I was younger for verrucas and being fascinated by how she treated them and how they looked when salicylic acid was applied. I chose my GCSEs and A levels specifically to allow me to gain knowledge that would give me the best chance at succeeding in my podiatry degree as I knew this was my long-term goal. I attended Ulster University for my degree which I loved. I began the degree when my daughter was two weeks old, which wasn’t easy but I knew in the end it would be worth it. I enjoyed the third year the most as this was when the modules regarding the high-risk foot were being taught. I loved learning all the different aspects of this and the wound healing process especially. I have a keen interest in the circulatory system and how it can so negatively or positively impact wound healing.

"I immensely enjoyed nail surgery, and this is something I do a lot within my post in the Trust and I enjoy it as much as I did when I first taught it. I always wanted to work for the health service as I wanted to make a positive difference to patients’ quality of life and give them relief where I possibly can. Working within the Trust has also allowed me to work with a great team whom I can learn from and get help or advice when needed. I feel very proud to say I’m part of a group of people who can confidently say that they have saved patients' lives or limbs. I love when patients return to us happy with their care as that is what I strive to do daily.”

Aoife’s ambition is to one day work in the enhanced foot protection team and to go on to complete her Masters degree. The award was particularly special to Aoife after a difficult year personally:

“Sadly I lost both my parents (who were my biggest supporters) to cancer this year and when I got the news of this award all I could think of was how proud both of them would have been as they helped and pushed me to succeed and the fact I was being recognised for this just proved their help and support was worth it all.”

Congratulations to all the winners at this year’s awards.

Full coverage is available here 

Our picture shows (from left to right) Aoife McGrattan, Award for rising stars winner, and Pete Burbidge, winner of the Award for digital innovation. Both work in the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust in Northern Ireland.