A Ballygally nurse has scooped the Royal College of Nursing’s Cancer Nurse of the Year Award for her work with prostate cancer patients.
Local woman Kirsty McKay is a specialist uro-onclogy project nurse working in Cancer Services at Antrim Area Hospital.
On May 12, she received the accolade, sponsored by Macmillan Cancer Support and Cancer Focus, during a glittering ceremony at Hillsborough Castle.
Kirsty was nominated for her innovative work in establishing a nurse-led review clinic for post-radiotherapy prostate cancer patients.
“It involves having a telephone review with patients so that they can have a review in the comfort of their own homes,” Kirsty told the Times.
“These appointments occur between assessments when they don’t have to be examined. I had the idea to set up the system after talking with a consultant, as the clinics were really over-booked.
“Men were coming from the Causeway and other areas and had to take time off work and wait at the clinic.
“A lot of patients were relying on relatives who also had to take time off work. There was a financial impact.”
The new system also involves a holistic needs assessment.
“We look at other things that impact on their health, their physical and practical concerns like caring responsibiities, financial impact, their emotional and spiritual concerns,” Kirsty explained.
“Those patients wouldn’t have had access to a specialist nurse in the past.”
Recalling the moment she learned of her success, Kirsty revealed: “I was past myself when I won, I was really excited.
“It was a real privilege as I love my work and my colleagues were very proud.”
Cllr Andrew Wilson praised Kirsty’s achievement.
“Many congratulations to Kirsty for being awarded Cancer Nurse of the Year,” he said.
“This is richly deserved for her work in a massively important part of the health service. I know many people who attest to her tremendous sympathy and empathy in her role as a uro-oncology project nurse.”