Sinead Sheils, a hepatology Nurse Practitioner with Sydney Local Health District, is the recipient of Hepatitis NSW’s 2021 Cheryl Burman Award. The Cheryl Burman Award acknowledges outstanding work or achievements by an individual or team in NSW within the viral hepatitis sector.
Hepatitis NSW CEO Steven Drew said, “The Cheryl Burman Award this year recognises Sinead Sheils for her substantial contribution to improving the quality of life of people living with viral hepatitis.”
Sinead’s clinical approach has resulted in great, positives outcomes for all stakeholders, including clients. As a Hepatology Nurse Practitioner at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, she has built workforce capacity and initiated evidence-based best practice.
Mr Drew said, “Central to Sinead’s successes is her passion for working within a social justice and equitable framework. Her passion and commitment for bettering the health outcomes for those most vulnerable has been longstanding.”
Sinead’s commitment and contribution to testing and treating hepatitis C exceeds twenty years of nursing service. During this time, she also fulfilled roles as Clinical Nurse Specialist and Clinical Nurse Consultant. In 2015, Sinead completed her Master of Nursing (Nurse Practitioner) at the University of Sydney.
Mr Drew said, “Sinead’s collaborative approach to tackling viral hepatitis is well recognised. She has great rapport with clinical, non-clinical and external stakeholders alike; frequently negotiating and adapting her clinical activities, ensuring the greatest outcomes for all stakeholders, including clients.”
This approach has been demonstrated, for example, through the roll out of ‘Blood-Borne Virus (BBV) Blitzes’. The Blitz model provides opportunistic HIV, hep B, and hep C testing to the most vulnerable using an outreach capacity as a way of mitigating many of the challenges experienced by those wanting to access testing.
“Other benefits include building rapport in a setting that is familiar and safe to the community; eliminating concerns regarding stigma and privacy experienced when accessing conventional health services,” said Mr Drew.
The model is holistic, offering peer engagement, health promotion, testing and, if required, treatment initiation. As a Nurse Practitioner, Sinead is well placed to dispense treatment on-site, further promoting accessibility and acceptability. Anecdotally, those clients who have successfully completed their treatment through this process, have reported that accessibility to dispensing via outreach was instrumental to not just their completion of treatment but also in being cured of hepatitis C.
Mr Drew said, “Hepatitis NSW congratulates Sinead. By any measure, she is a very worthy recipient of this prestigious award, demonstrating strong leadership and initiative in the sector. Sinead joins a growing list of leaders and champions of the NSW viral hepatitis community very much in the mould of Cheryl herself.”