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A dietitian who played a key role in the opening of the Whiteabbey Nightingale has been named the overall winner of the 2021 Advancing Healthcare Awards.

Joanne McKee, a dietitian in the Northern Health and Social Care Trust, moved outside her speciality when she became the Allied Health Professional (AHP) lead at the Whiteabbey Nightingale hospital. Joanne was instrumental in the planning and opening of the regional centre for post-Covid inpatient rehabilitation. Opened in November 2020, the Enhanced Nursing and AHP led Rehabilitation and Step-Down Unit enabled over 140 patients to benefit from 7-day AHP rehabilitation.

The UK-wide awards recognise projects and professionals that lead innovative healthcare practice and make a real difference to patients’ lives in the healthcare science and allied health professions. This year the work of AHPs in Northern Ireland was particularly prominent with11 finalists, four category winners, the overall AHP winner and two Rising Stars coming from the province.

Congratulating the winners, Health Minister Robin Swann, said: “This has been a very difficult year for our entire health and social care workforce and I am delighted to see Allied Health Professionals from Northern Ireland receiving the recognition they so richly deserve.

 “The calibre of the entries from Northern Ireland has been outstanding and I want to congratulate all of our winners. In particular, I would like to pay tribute to Joanne McKee for being recognised as the overall winner. This is an exceptional achievement and reflects the exceptional role that Joanne has played at the Whiteabbey Nightingale. The judges outlined Joanne’s commitment to providing a culture of recovery, compassion and kindness which was also reflected in patient feedback.”

Jenny Keane, the Chief Allied Health Professional Officer at the Department of Health said “I was delighted to see so many AHPs shortlisted as finalists in this year’s Advancing Healthcare Awards and delighted to see so many winners. I want to congratulate all of the winners and acknowledge Joanne McKee as the overall winner. Joanne’s clinical leadership is a fantastic representation of Allied Health Professionals in Northern Ireland.”

The awards were presented at a virtual ceremony on 21 May 2021.

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