Health Service Focus

31.08.16

Time to honour our health heroes

The efforts and contributions of clinical support workers can often go unnoticed. Ian Wheeler, head of research at Skills for Health, explains how through the Our Health Heroes awards we can celebrate these valued members of the workforce. 

Clinical support workers and operational service staff play critical roles, ensuring that hospital and healthcare practices around the UK are running efficiently and effectively, yet their contributions often go unnoticed. 

The Our Health Heroes awards have been created in partnership with the National Skills Academy for Health, UNISON and Skills for Health to acknowledge the significant contribution made by the support workforce for the health sector. Playing such a crucial role in delivering patient care, healthcare staff can be nominated for one of two awards – Clinical Support Worker of the Year and Operational Services Worker of the Year. NHE is the official media partner of the UK’s only dedicated award scheme to celebrate the healthcare support workforce. 

Our research has shown it is only by understanding the contribution and value of the support worker role that the health sector will be able to realise its potential in terms of productivity and efficiency. We want to recognise and reward those who contribute to the UK’s health sector and celebrate best practice to ensure patients receive the best quality of care. 

The UK health sector employs over 2.1 million people, and 40% (798,600) of these are support staff. Of the 798,600 people working in the support workforce, 25,731 work in catering roles, while there are 15,000 maintenance workers. The number of porters reaches almost 13,000; performing essential roles in maintaining the smooth running of hospitals. 

Our working paper ‘How we can act now to create a high quality support workforce in the UK’s health sector’ catalogues a list of “ingredients” that make such developments sustainable. These 12 key points aim to give those interested in workforce development a practical guide to creating demand for high-quality support worker roles in the UK’s health sector. 

The 12 key points include the services needed to deliver, going deeper into the skills mix, giving clarity to what support roles are doing and also look into the use of apprenticeships. The overall aim is to work alongside health organisations to ensure their support workforce is fully sustainable, working efficiently and recognised for their work. 

If you’re a supervisor, manager or team leader you can nominate the health heroes on your team by visiting the Skills for Health website: http://www.skillsforhealth.org.uk/ourhealthheroes/ohh-awards

Deadline for entries is 23 September 2016 

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