The men and women who keep the NHS running behind the scenes and improve the lives of patients are recognised yesterday 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 caliber 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:

  • Eastern – Stephen Hartman, porter at Basildon Hospital, Essex
  • East Midlands – Joanne Snell, administrative officer at John Coupland Hospital, Lincolnshire
  • Greater London – Gifty Brobbey, ward hostess at the Royal Marsden, London
  • Northern – Elizabeth Mason, cleaner at Happy House Surgery, Tyne and Wear
  • Northern Ireland – Elizabeth Cameron, centre receptionist at Fortwilliam Day Service, Belfast
  • North West – Samantha Meade, quality support officer at Family Nurse Partnership, Central Manchester University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • Scotland – Paul Deans, porter supervisor at Glasgow Dental Hospital and School
  • South East – Claire Mills, administrator at Medway Community Healthcare, Kent
  • South West – Jeff Surmon, handyman at Bristol City Council
  • Wales – Helen Rees, catering assistant at Princess of Wales Hospital, Bridgend
  • West Midlands – Liz Perkins, secretary and admin lead at LymphCare UK, West Bromwich
  • Yorkshire and Humber – Michelle Oakes, business manager at NHS Sheffield CCG

Clinical support worker of the year:

  • Eastern – Beverly Lyford, assistant cardiac practitioner at Papworth Hospital, Cambridge
  • East Midlands – Barbara Singh, maternity support worker at Nottingham University Hospitals
  • Greater London – Jeanette Curtin, theatre support worker at Hillingdon Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • Northern – Iain Scott, emergency care assistant at Berwick Ambulance Station, Northumberland
  • Northern Ireland -  Stephen Rogers, care support worker at Belfast Health and Social Care Trust
  • North West – Rachel Szarfenberg, assistant practitioner in head and neck surgery unit at Manchester Royal Infirmary
  • Scotland – Stacy Wilson, healthcare support worker at Royal Alexandra Hospital, East Sussex
  • South East – Nicola Day, children’s therapy assistant practitioner at Medway Community Healthcare, Kent
  • South West – Stephanie Crump, clinical apprentice at Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital, Exeter
  • Wales – Jamie Alsop, support time and recover worker at Whitchurch Hospital, Cardiff
  • West Midlands – Amanda Lavick, therapy technician at Royal Stoke University Hospital, Staffordshire
  • Yorkshire and the Humber– Tony Hudson, peer support worker at Rotherham Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, South Yorkshire

The winners will be announced at a special awards ceremony hosted at UNISON’s headquarters in Euston, London, on 29 November 2016. 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 www.skillsforhealth.org.uk/ohh-vote  until 14 November 2016.

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 www.skillsforhealth.org.uk/ohh-vote until 14 November 2016. 

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