A specialist nursing team from Swindon-based social enterprise SEQOL has won the country’s top award for community nurses.
Two members of the SEQOL deep vein community nurse specialist team were presented with the RCNi Community Nursing Award at a ceremony at the Westminster Park Plaza Hotel in London.
The RCNi is the publishing arm of the Royal College of Nursing, the largest professional union for nursing with more than 430,000 members, which influences policy and practice for the benefit of nursing staff and their patients.
The SEQOL deep vein thrombosis (DVT) service, led by DVT nurse specialist Jo Boyd, is the first in which nurses working in the community uses ultrasound to confirm or exclude deep vein thrombosis. Before Jo made her pioneering suggestions to develop this service, almost all patients with a suspected DVT would be put on anticoagulants and have to experience a wait for a hospital-based scan for diagnosis. In 2014, a total of 1,476 patients received an average of three unnecessary doses of anticoagulants while waiting to be screened.
“The DVT team were concerned about the wait for ultrasound diagnosis,” said Jo.
“The symptoms of a DVT often mimic other conditions so an ultrasound scan is sometimes the only safe way to exclude the condition. Patients needed an injection of anticoagulants daily until they had a scan. This delay in diagnosis caused people to feel uncertainty and concern.”
Jo saw an opportunity to speed up the diagnosis by providing a scanning service based within the community, and took the suggestion to the SEQOL executive team. Her suggestion was supported and has been an incredible success. The initiative saw Jo become the first nurse in the country to be trained as a DVT sonographer, and she then passed the skills onto the members of her team.
Now, patients can be assessed, scanned and diagnosed at the SEQOL Specialist Treatment Centre, based at the Moredon Medical Centre site on the same day. Treatment and review is also carried out at the centre.
Before SEQOL introduced the new way of working, only 20 per cent of patients received a scan within 24 hours and only four per cent at initial consultation. Since the service began, figures are now 97 per cent and 94 per cent respectively, and written feedback from patients is consistently positive.
Jo and her colleague, Lucy Reynolds, accepted the award on behalf of the SEQOL deep vein community nurse specialist team. Jo said:
“We were absolutely thrilled to win, although we were surprised because there were so many strong candidates also up for the award. It’s a fantastic accolade for the entire DVT team, and we’re very proud to have had such an impact on patient care, and to have had it recognised on a national platform. I’m very grateful to SEQOL for giving us the space and encouragement to be able to push forward the boundaries of nursing, and for continuing to have faith in us.”
The chief executive of SEQOL, Heather Mitchell, said:
“This is a fantastic accolade that is well deserved by our deep vein community nurse specialist team. As shareholders of SEQOL, our colleagues are encouraged and empowered to take innovative approaches to solving problems, and this is a superb example of how that can lead to changes that have considerable positive impact both on patients’ wellbeing and on the cost of providing care.”