Hunter Duo National Finalists For Top Nurse And Midwife Awards

Two of the Hunter New England’s veteran nurses and midwives have been recognised for their outstanding contributions to the field.

Fiona Hodson and Libby Pitman have been nominated respectively for nurse and midwife of the year at the 2023 HESTA Awards.

With a combined 65 years in the sector between them, the pair have helped progress health outcome in the Hunter.

A Pain Management Clinical Nurse Consultant at The Lodge, Fiona Hodson has spent 25 of her 35 year nursing career working to improve the care and treatment provided to pain patients, making her a trailblazer in the development of new models of care.

She has worked with acute, chronic and cancer pain patients and in education, strategic planning, and research. Her impressive list of achievements includes developing a web-based pain management toolkit for clinicians and consumers, coordinating the revision of elderly pain management guidelines for residential care, and helping develop a new patient centred model of care for women who experience chronic pelvic pain.

In rural communities across the Hunter New England, labour and childbirth has come a long way over the last three decades thanks in no small part to Libby Pitman.

From starting out in midwifery 30 years ago, Libby has risen to Maternity Unit Manager and Aboriginal Maternal and Infant Health Service (AMIHS) Manager at Inverell Hospital.

Driven by a desire to improve the health outcomes of rural women, babies and their families, she has spearheaded change at the Inverell maternity unit and leads one of the first rural midwifery practice programs in the Hunter.

Libby has also been a strong advocate for student and graduate midwives at time when new blood is desperately needed to stem shortages in the sector.

Across the state, but particularly in regional and rural areas, nurses and midwives are locked in a battle for better conditions and safe staffing levels which they believe are contributing to high rates of burnout and pushing people to quit, only further compounding the issues. Attracting people to complete their studies and take up roles long-term has been identified as a pathway to ease the strain.

HESTA CEO Debby Blakey praised the exceptional work of all the finalists and acknowledged the work of nurses and midwives around the country.

“Our nurses and midwives are the backbone of our healthcare system, and it is essential that we recognise and celebrate their contributions. They are on the front line, providing care, comfort, and support to patients and their families, often in challenging and demanding circumstances,” Ms Blakey said.

The national awards – now in their 17th year – acknowledge the outstanding contribution Australia’s nurses, midwives, nurse educators, researchers and personal care workers make to improving health outcomes. A group of industry experts from across the health and community services sector evaluated several exceptional nominations and chose finalists for the categories of Nurse of the Year, Midwife of the Year, and Outstanding Organisation.

Winners will be revealed on May 16 at an Awards ceremony in Sydney.

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