Stonehaven nurse manager receives top accolade at national awards

Sandra Wilson (centre) was awarded the Nurse of the Year prize at the event
-Credit: (Image: Aberdeenshire Health & Social Care Partnership)

An Aberdeenshire nurse manager has scooped a national award after designing a programme which trains Practice Nurses to support and help hundreds of people living with diabetes in Grampian.

Sandra Wilson was awarded Nurse of the Year at the Royal College of Nursing Scotland Awards, having beaten off fierce competition to emerge victorious in the Learning in Practice Category.

The event, which was held in Edinburgh on Thursday, May 23, recognises the dedication and outstanding professional care of nursing staff across Scotland.

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Sandra, who is based at Kincardine Community Hospital in Stonehaven, is a nurse manager and leads expert teams specialising in diabetes, heart failure and diabetic eye screening.

Her innovative work clearly impressed the judging panel after she designed the Supporting Practice Nurses in Diabetes, Revalidation and Appraisal course.

Aptly known as the SANDRA programme, it is designed to support general practice nurses in delivering diabetes clinics.

The clinics are aimed at those predominantly living with Type 1 Diabetes, who can then receive further support in managing their condition, medications and potential complications.

Thanks to the SANDRA programme, general practice nurses have been able to diagnose conditions linked to diabetes much earlier and offer appropriate treatment.

Sandra first launched the initiative in 2019 and has gone on to train more than 30 general practice nurses in delivering their own diabetes clinics.

The award comes after she recently celebrated 40 years in nursing, having started training as an enrolled nurse in May of 1984.

Sandra's award comes after a 40-year career in nursing which began in 1984
Sandra's award comes after a 40-year career in nursing which began in 1984 -Credit:Aberdeenshire Health & Social Care Partnership

“I am absolutely stunned to have collected this award, I never thought I’d be nominated at the Scotland Royal College of Nursing Awards when I first set out to launch an education programme,” said Sandra.

“I couldn’t have done this without the support of such a fantastic team, and my fellow diabetes nurse specialists who came forward to support our general practice nurses.

“Giving up their time and expertise was such a key part of the programme and enabled us to create strong mentorship and support.

“The feedback from the SANDRA course has been fantastic, and I’m very proud that we have not only improved patient outcomes, but we have also enabled general practice nurses to feel more confident in delivering truly exceptional care.

“Having reached the milestone of 40 years in nursing, to have also received this accolade is just wonderful.”

There have been six cohorts of nurses who have completed the SANDRA course since it first launched, with more than 30 general practice nurses successfully completing the programme.

Those who have completed the course have been able to not only learn more about diabetes, but also understand associated complications.

Training is provided on foot care alongside hypo and hyperglycemia – where blood sugar levels can either be too low or too high and how to support patients with all aspects of their diabetes care.

Ali McGruther, Chief Nurse at Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership is also celebrating Sandra’s huge achievement.

“This is an amazing achievement for an amazing woman and a real testament to the incredible talent we have here in Team Shire,” she said.

“Sandra has worked tirelessly to educate the next generation of general practice nurses in diabetes care, and we are all incredibly proud of what she and her fellow team members have achieved.

“Sandra has designed this fantastic programme alongside a demanding role, which sees her manage our Heart Failure Specialist Nurses Team, Diabetic Eye Screening Team and our Community and Acute Specialist Nurses.

“These teams work with hundreds of patients across the Grampian region every single month and it is wonderful to be able to shine a light on the work that everyone does.

“I am a very emotional and proud Chief Nurse – well done Sandra.”