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Regional winners for Our Health Heroes revealed

The men and women who keep the NHS running behind the scenes and improve the lives of patients are recognised today by the Our Health Heroes Awards, created by Skills for Health, the National Skills Academy for Health and UNISON.

The awards celebrate the exceptional contribution made by healthcare staff including hospital porters, emergency care assistants and admin officers who are crucial in the delivery of patient care, yet rarely get praised for the work they do.  

A total of 24 regional winners –  two from each of UNISON’s 12 regions – have been chosen as national finalists by judges from more than 500 entries. All were selected for their ability to put patients first, to act as positive role models to colleagues and to overcome personal challenges in their lives. 

Healthcare teams across the UK were asked to nominate colleagues for one of two awards – clinical support worker of the year and operational services worker of the year. The names of those shortlisted as regional winners will now go forward to a public vote to choose an overall national winner in each category.

John Rogers, chief executive at Skills for Health, said: “The NHS couldn’t function without the dedication of clinical support workers and operational service staff. They ensure that hospitals and healthcare practices around the UK provide the best care possible for patients.

“They keep the health service running efficiently and effectively, yet their efforts often go unnoticed. Our research has shown that the health sector can only reach its potential in terms of productivity and efficiency by understanding the contribution and value of support workers.

“We are delighted with the calibre of award entries we have received and the judges certainly had a difficult task in selecting our regional winners. Each of our 24 national finalists are already winners in their region, and should be proud of their commitment to their roles in healthcare.”

The national finalists for operational services worker of the year are:

  • EasternStephen Hartman, porter at Basildon Hospital, Essex
    • Stephen has been nominated for his dedication for making change in the hospital. Although Stephen is deaf, he has embraced his role and has never let his life circumstances hold him back. Stephen communicates to deaf patients on behalf of doctors and staff, offering comfort to those unable to hear, in some of the most frightening surroundings.
  • East MidlandsJoanne Snell, administrative officer at John Coupland Hospital, Lincolnshire
    • Joanne has been nominated for her can-do attitude, her smiling face and the positivity she brings to her team. Joanne puts patient experience at the centre of what she does and is always working to find solutions to ensure systems are working efficiently.
  • Greater LondonGifty Brobbey, ward hostess at the Royal Marsden, London
    • Gifty has been nominated for her positive outlook and going the extra mile for her patients. Understanding the importance of a good diet for her patients, Gifty ensures that patients have a choice in what they want to eat. She is an empathetic ward hostess and is considerate to the needs of every patient.
  • NorthernElizabeth Mason, cleaner at Happy House Surgery, Tyne and Wear
    • Liz has been nominated for her positive attitude and working hard to improve her skills. Since joining the surgery, Liz as achieved several NVQ qualifications, using this knowledge to bring excellence improvements to her work. Her innovative thinking is recognised by all at the surgery and she is a valued member of the team.
  • Northern IrelandElizabeth Cameron, centre receptionist at Fortwilliam Day Service, Belfast
    • Elizabeth has been nominated for her compassion and hard work. She has been the welcoming face of the centre for the last 30 years and always goes above and beyond the call of duty. She can often be seen reading story books to service users on her break.
  • North WestSamantha Meade, quality support officer at Family Nurse Partnership, Central Manchester University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
    • Samantha has been nominated for her high standard of work and always encouraging her team to improve their personal skill set. She has a caring, kind and patient nature and uses her lovely singing voice to keep everyone smiling.
  • ScotlandPaul Deans, porter supervisor at Glasgow Dental Hospital and School
    • Paul has been nominated for his caring and compassionate nature. He has been at the hospital for 33 years and “works tirelessly to support staff and patients” showing his true commitment to his work. His friendly demeanour puts all patients at ease during often stressful circumstances and is a role model to his team.
  • South EastClaire Mills, administrator at Medway Community Healthcare, Kent
    • Claire has been nominated for being the “glue that holds her team together”. Claire always goes above and beyond to help even when she is busy and does so with a smile on her face. Her colleagues credit Claire for her positive nature.
  • South WestJeff Surmon, handyman at Bristol City Council
    • Jeff splits his time between two centres and goes above and beyond to make sure patients and staff are happy. He always makes a special effort to sit with those who need company and is the man who knows what is needed before you even have to ask! Everyone needs a Jeff on their team.
  • WalesHelen Rees, catering assistant at Princess of Wales Hospital, Bridgend
    • Helen has been nominated for her passion and commitment to improve the hospital’s catering services. She has developed a “process to reduce waste in the hospital” and is a fantastic role model to others.
  • West MidlandsLiz Perkins, secretary and admin lead at LymphCare UK, West Bromwich
    • Lisa has been nominated for her “high standard of work and always challenging herself”. She is always smiling and happy to help all patents. A forward thinker who is constantly finding new ways of effective working, Lisa is a true representative of the organisation.
  • Yorkshire and HumberMichelle Oakes, business manager at NHS Sheffield CCG
    • Michelle has been nominated for “launching staff initiatives” like the workplace wellbeing fortnight and lunchtime meditation groups. She is a fantastic role model for healthy behaviour and goes above and beyond for her staff to keep morale high.

Clinical support worker of the year:

  • EasternBeverly Lyford, assistant cardiac practitioner at Papworth Hospital, Cambridge
    • Beverly and was nominated for constantly working at a level above what is expected of her. She is the ward champion for new initiatives and is extremely enthusiastic in her approach to change. Beverly is a great role model for her junior colleagues encouraging them to show ambition.
  • East MidlandsBarbara Singh, maternity support worker at Nottingham University Hospitals
    • Barbara was nominated because her witty sense of humour and professionalism helps keep her busy team afloat. Barbara isn’t fazed by innovation; embracing the breast feeding initiative introduced, working with the staff to ensure the hospital achieved its exemplary baby friendly status.
  • Greater LondonJeanette Curtin, theatre support worker at Hillingdon Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
    • Jeanette has been nominated for her positive attitude and forward thinking. Nothing is too much trouble for Jeanette and she regularly takes time to comfort patients going into surgery to put their care first.
  • NorthernIain Scott, emergency care assistant at Berwick Ambulance Station, Northumberland
    • Iain has been nominated for his dedication to patients and his selflessness. Iain regularly checks up on patients in the community in his spare time and runs errands for them before he turns up to his own shifts. Iain also runs the station’s tea and social fund and greatly increases the morale of staff.
  • Northern Ireland - Stephen Rogers, care support worker at Belfast Health and Social Care Trust
    • Stephen has been nominated for carrying out his duties without complaint and always with enthusiasm. He is a real role model in the workplace and constantly acts as an advocate for his patients and their families. Stephen works hard to break down barriers of discrimination to ensure patients are comfortable.
  • North WestRachel Szarfenberg, assistant practitioner in head and neck surgery unit at Manchester Royal Infirmary
    • A ‘font of knowledge’, Rachel has been nominated for her dedication to head and neck patients over the last 18 years. She is always willing to help out by taking junior members of staff under her wing and her caring nature makes her an admirable member of staff.
  • ScotlandStacy Wilson, healthcare support worker at Royal Alexandra Hospital, East Sussex
    • Stacy has been nominated for her dedication to her ward for the last 18 years, despite living with disabilities of her own. Stacy works hard to support her colleagues, she’s a fantastic role model for her team. Her meticulous approach and high standard of care do not go unnoticed by patients and staff.
  • South EastNicola Day, children’s therapy assistant practitioner at Medway Community Healthcare, Kent
    • Nicola has been nominated for her caring and compassionate approach. Proactive in her fundraising, Nicola has raised £1,500 in the last year. She is passionate about improving the quality of services for children and has created new opportunities for children under care to increase their mobility.
  • South WestStephanie Crump, clinical apprentice at Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital, Exeter
    • Stephanie has been nominated for her caring and compassionate nature. Her confidence has really grown since she left the armed forces due to injury and she started on the ward. She is now a role model for new staff and has been given the responsibility of mentoring new apprentices on the ward.
  • WalesJamie Alsop, support time and recover worker at Whitchurch Hospital, Cardiff
    • Jamie has been nominated for his dedication to one patient in particular and going above and beyond with their care. Although the patient sadly passed, Jamie supported them until the end of their life and did everything he could to make sure the patient, and their family, were as comfortable as possible.
  • West MidlandsAmanda Lavick, therapy technician at Royal Stoke University Hospital, Staffordshire
    • Amanda has been nominated for her caring and supportive nature. Her selfless thinking saw her purchase a colouring book for a person diagnosed with dementia, who was showing signs of distress. She has gone beyond the call of duty for the last 18 years in the trust to make sure patients are happy.
  • Yorkshire and the Humber Tony Hudson, peer support worker at Rotherham Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, South Yorkshire
    • Tony has been nominated for being a reliable member of the team. He builds trusting relationships with patients and is well respected by colleagues for using his own life experiences to help others. Tony’s role demands a lot of patience and care – and he always takes his work in his stride with a smile on his face.

The winners will be announced at a special awards ceremony hosted at UNISON’s headquarters in Euston, London, on 29 November. People can vote for who they want to win the overall awards for clinical support worker of the year and operational services worker of the year via the dedicated Skills for Health website until 14 November.

Candace Miller, director of the National Skills Academy for Health, said: “As an organisation devoted to ensuring healthcare support staff have access to the training they need for he job they love, we have been really pleased to see so many responses giving recognition to the fantastic contribution support staff make to healthcare services.

“Each of our 24 regional winners has shown remarkable dedication to their jobs and the delivery of patient care. Each of them is a compassionate, forward thinker and a role model to colleagues for their positive attitude. We are looking forward to celebrating all of our inspirational winners from across the clinical and operational services support workforce who make a significant difference on a daily basis.”

Christina McAnea, Head of Health at UNISON, said: “Without the hard work and dedication of support staff, nurses, paramedics, midwives, radiographers and other health colleagues, would quite simply be unable to do their jobs.

“It’s vital we celebrate the amazing work of clinical support and operational services staff, which often goes way above and beyond their roles. They are the unsung heroes of the NHS.”

The awards follow on from the #OurHealthHeroes social media campaign launched by Skills for Health in February that encouraged people to share stories about workers who make a difference. The campaign has been supported by organisations including Health Education England, Alder Hey Hospital, Great Ormond Street Hospital and Southmead Hospital.

Our Health Heroes awards celebrates the nearly 800,000 staff across the UK’s health sector who work as healthcare assistants, assistant practitioners, porters, cleaners, caterers, maintenance workers and administrative staff by encouraging people who have benefited from their support to share their stories.

To vote for the national clinical support worker of the year and operational services worker of the year visit until 14 November.


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