Devon nurse Margaret Shepherd wins £200k prize for diabetes innovation

A nurse from Exeter has won a $250,000 (£200,000) global award for her work on improving diabetes care in the UK.

Margaret Shepherd, from Exeter, was left "shaking" after winning the Aster Guardians Global Nursing Award 2023 on International Nurses Day on Friday.

She set up a national network of diabetes nurses in 2022 to help raise awareness of the condition and prevent misdiagnosis, which can often lead to unnecessary insulin injections.

Ms Shepherd has been described as one of the leading nurses for monogenic diabetes in the UK and is used as a consultant around the world.

Accepting the award at a glitzy ceremony in London's Queen Elizabeth II Centre, she said: "I am shaking. I'm truly honoured.

"In 1981 I started my nursing career at King's College London and I was working on a diabetes ward.

"Little did I know that my career would continue in this field... I was the first diabetes specialist nurse looking at rare genetic forms of diabetes to ensure the correct diagnosis.

"As healthcare professionals, we are privileged to be able to make a positive impact on the lives of our patients, and I feel blessed to be part of such a rewarding profession.

"This award not only recognises my personal achievements but also highlights the importance of nursing as a critical component of healthcare."

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Asked how she plans to spend the money, Ms Shepherd said: "I would like to put a donation from my prize to those countries who cannot afford genetic testing for diabetes - so that it is free, and they can be diagnosed as necessary with neonatal diabetes.

"This will make a huge and very real difference for those individuals."

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Other winners on the night included medical staff from Tanzania, India, Kenya and Panama.

The award was launched in 2021 on International Nurses Day, which aims to recognise the support of nurses around the world.

Dr Azad Moopen, founder, chairman and managing director of Aster DM Healthcare, said of Ms Shepherd: "She has exemplified the highest standards of patient care and dedication - that is inspirational, and it deserves global recognition.

"Each one of the top 10 finalists have done phenomenal work and the grand jury had a tough time assessing and selecting the final winner."