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Local Midwife Nominated for Award 18 November 2004

On Thursday 25th November Mary O'Connor will discover whether or not she has won a major UK environmental award. She has been nominated and shortlisted for the UK NHS Estates Agency Building Better Healthcare Awards 2004 Outstanding Sustainability Project, which is a major economic, social and environmental award.

Ian Harris, Clinical General Manager of Women and Children's Services at Noble's Hospital said:

"The mere fact of being shortlisted to the final four from several hundred other projects is in itself a major achievement."

A delighted Mary said that she was:

"very pleased, very surprised as this was open to every hospital and health authority in the UK."

The Real Nappy Project is a cross department project aimed at encouraging families to use terry nappies. It is the first successful project of its kind in surrounding jurisdictions. Mothers on low incomes find it very difficult to afford the initial outlay required to buy real nappies. Now, uniquely to the Isle of Man, mothers on benefits can apply for an interest free loan to enable them to buy real nappies. Mary, who is a midwife at the Jane Crookall Maternity Unit of Noble's Hospital, is characteristically modest when attributing her success in getting the project going to a number of people other than herself. These include Nick Gough and Darrin Oldham of the legislative executive at the DHSS who "were very supportive" and at Noble's: Margaret Kermode, Specialist Nurse in the Infection Control Team; Ian Cooil, procurement manager; Suzanne Crellin and Keith Halford of Linen Services and Jane Sloane, Head of Midwifery. Mary was particularly keen to express her "appreciation to Clare Christian" the former Health Minister "who supported the initiative both from a health and from a benefits perspective."

Jane Sloane said:

"We are absolutely delighted that Mary’s hard work has earned her a well deserved nomination for this prestigious award. We are very proud of her."

Mary was asked what had led her to investigate terry nappies in the first place. She explained that during 2003 she was working in parenthood education at Noble's Hospital and:

"Several women asked me about the availability of real nappies on the Isle of Man. I had a look around the island to see what was available and it all sort of snowballed from there."

As part of her investigations Mary discovered that not only did disposable nappies account for a large proportion of landfill requirement but also what a significant effect buying disposable nappies had on mothers on low incomes. A large proportion of benefit is taken up each week by buying disposable nappies. Over the time that infants are in nappies, disposable nappies cost very much more than terry nappies.

This worried Mary because:

"As a midwife, public health is an integral part of our practice, and by spending less each week on nappies mothers on low incomes would be able to afford to improve health, for example diet, by buying more fresh fruit and vegetables."

Mary will also discover, over the next few weeks, whether she has been successful in two further awards. Her project has been nominated for a Green Apple Award and for a Midwifery Best Practice award which will be granted by the Royal College of Midwives.

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