Private healthcare finalists triumphed in two of the three categories at the 2021 HESTA Australian Nursing and Midwifery Awards.
Shannon Philp of Sydney’s Chris O’Brien Lifehouse was named Nurse of the Year, while Ramsay Health Care Australia won the Outstanding Organisation prize.
Ms Philp said she was “speechless and honoured” after being recognised for her leadership and work to improve care for women with gynaecological cancers.
“These awards highlight the complexity of nursing, the professionalism and specialised care that nurses provide, and also the highly-educated nursing workforce we have in our country,” she said.
“I hope to see many more cancer nurses follow in my footsteps because we can make a difference to patient outcomes and that’s why we love our jobs.”
Ms Philp, Australia’s first nurse practitioner in gynae-oncology, said she would use her $10,000 prize to help improve women’s experience of colposcopy, as 2017 changes to the cervical screening guidelines had led to a dramatic increase in the number of women referred for this procedure.
“It’s an invasive thing for women to come in to have treatment and not knowing what’s going to happen. It’s an anxiety-provoking experience,” she said.
Ramsay, Australia’s largest private healthcare provider, was recognised for its work to improve environmental sustainability across its 72 facilities, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions and removing single-use plastics.
“Being able to work and be influential in bringing about significant and positive change and to know that our work is making a positive and measurable improvement in how we care for the environment is extremely rewarding and very uplifting,” Ramsay's National Environment Manager Sue Panuccio said.
This work was in response to strong feedback from nurse practitioners and other employees, who cared deeply about creating a more sustainable future.
“We’ve put our heart and soul into this program. I’m beyond excited,” said Chanelle McEnallay, Ramsay’s Chief Risk Officer and Legal Services Director.
“The staff are so engaged in sustainability. Everyone’s very keen on what we’re doing in this space because hospitals are so plastic-intensive.”
The company plans to match the $10,000 prize money “dollar for dollar” and develop its own sustainability program for staff, having already launched the 'Ramsay Cares' strategy in December 2020.
Ramsay also had a finalist in the Midwife of the Year category – John Flynn Private Hospital’s Mel Boulter – but the award went to Janelle Dillon of Western Australia’s Bega Garnbirringu Health Service for her work in creating a safe space for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women of Kalgoorlie.
The national awards, now in their 15th year, pay tribute to the contributions of Australia’s nurses, midwives, nurse educators, researchers and personal care workers to improving health outcomes.
“This year’s winners prove our nurses and midwives are the backbone of our healthcare system,” HESTA CEO Debby Blakey said.
“Their dedication, leadership and commitment to care is so inspiring to us all and has made an incredible difference to the health and wellbeing of so many people.
“I want to thank each and every finalist for their amazing work, and also the people who submitted a nomination – thank you for helping the team at HESTA tell their important stories.”