Derry’s Emma is RCN NI nurse of the year

RCN nurse of the year Emma McKinney pictured with Pat Cullen, Director of RCN Northern Ireland and Sarah Travers.
RCN nurse of the year Emma McKinney pictured with Pat Cullen, Director of RCN Northern Ireland and Sarah Travers.

A nurse from Derry who works with young people in the criminal justice system, has been named RCN Northern Ireland ‘Nurse of the Year.’

Emma McKinney, who is a specialist nurse practitioner working in child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) in the South Eastern Trust, was presented with the award at a special ceremony last week.

Emmais based at Woodlands Juvenile Justice Centre in Bangor and 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.

One hundred per cent 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.

The mother of one of Emma’s patients said she was the ‘first person who 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.”

Ms Cullen added: “The problems confronting our health and social care services are well-documented. However, we are fortunate to have nurses in Northern Ireland whose skills and expertise are in demand across the world. We need to ensure that these same nurses feel supported, recognised and valued for the excellent care they provide to the people of Northern Ireland.”

She congratulated all the winners and described them as a ‘credit to the nursing profession’. For more local winners see page 21.