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A Hepatology Specialist Practitioner at Oxford University Hospitals has scooped the top prize at the national Dr Falk-Pharma / Guts UK charity awards 2019.

lainie-lawsonLainie Lawson, based at the John Radcliffe Hospital, won the Nurse Recognition award for her prison initiative which has improved the delivery of Hepatitis C Virus service to prisoners in the Thames Valley Region.

The Dr Falk Pharma / Guts UK Charity Awards, now celebrating their 13th year, are dedicated to encouraging research and promoting patient care in the field of gastroenterology and hepatology.

Lainie was presented with her award and £1,000 prize at the British Society of Gastroenterology Annual Meeting in Glasgow in June 2019.

She said: "I have always been passionate about working to reduce the harms related to intravenous drug use, including the transmission of blood borne viruses (BBVs).

"When I was appointed as a nurse specialist to provide Hepatitis C treatment in the local prisons, it was this that motivated me to develop specific aims for the service.

"My priority was to increase the number of prisoners tested and treated for Hepatitis C in the prisons I cover.

"I initiated collaborative teamwork with other agencies to provide prison staff training on BBVs, meaning prison staff could feel confident in offering and carrying out testing.

"We have also switched from venous blood testing to dry blood spot testing which has increased the numbers of tests carried out and introduced a peer to peer project in all the prisons with the specific aim of providing support, increase awareness and reduce stigma.

"Finally, new pathways and consent forms have been developed to allow the patients results to be easily forwarded onto GPs, or other prisons if patients are released or transferred.

"These developments have allowed for the number of those treated to increase by a massive 164 percent.

"In addition, we are now working effectively as a larger team to meet the targets for Hepatitis C testing and treatment. Patient feedback has been extremely positive and, most importantly, prisoners have access to much needed support and information regarding Hepatitis C."

Lainie covers five prisons, one Young Offenders Institute, and a high security forensic mental health hospital.

Professor Chris Hawkey, President of Guts UK charity who co-presented the ceremony, said: "These awards have supported numerous medical students, junior doctors, nurses and dietitians at crucial early stages in their careers.

"These are the most talented health professionals and leaders of tomorrow and support at this early stage helps to signal their potential to them and their peers and foster self-belief as the bright stars of tomorrow.

The awards continue to be highly competitive and help to attract the brightest and the best to the field of UK gastroenterology."