Local ‘health and care heroes’ sought for awards marking 70 years of the NHS

A competition to celebrate the NHS’s 70th birthday will be launched in Westminster today (7 February).

The NHS70 Parliamentary Awards will see English MPs put forward individuals and teams serving their constituencies for national recognition, with the winners being announced at a special awards ceremony on the House of Commons Terrace the day before the NHS’s official anniversary.

It is part of a range of activities being organised by NHS England and NHS Improvement, working with a wide range of partners, to celebrate the achievements of the NHS and those who work for and with it.

MPs attending today’s launch will be encouraged to search for outstanding nominees who have innovated, impressed and made a real difference to how the health and care system provides care for their constituents.

There are ten categories, including a Lifetime Achievement award to honour those who have devoted their lives or careers to making the NHS better, both for patients and those who work within it.

Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, said: “As the NHS turns 70, this is the right moment to reflect on seven decades of medical progress; to thank our extraordinary staff and volunteers; and to look forward to the future with resolve and confidence.”

Chair of the Health Committee, Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, who is hosting today’s launch, said: “I am pleased to be sponsoring the NHS70 Parliamentary Awards, a chance for all MPs to celebrate this anniversary and recognise the truly outstanding care which they and their constituents receive. I encourage all of my colleagues to invite nominations; we will hear some unique stories of personal and professional triumph, and of men and women going beyond what is expected of them to deliver compassionate and world class care.”

Ian Dalton, Chief Executive of NHS Improvement, said: “NHS staff across the country work hard day in, day out to take care of us during our time of need. These awards will celebrate, highlight and reward the hard work of NHS staff as we mark 70 years of the NHS.”

Among the guests meeting MPs at the launch will be Ethel Armstrong MBE, who was working in the NHS on the day it came into being on the 5 July 1948.

Ethel, 87, worked for more than four decades at various hospitals around the country, mainly in radiography and nursing, and since then for two charities that support current and retired NHS staff.

Ethel said: “The NHS has changed a great deal since Nye Bevan launched it back in 1948, but one thing has stayed the same: the dedication, skill and compassion of those who work in it and support it in other ways. The 70th anniversary is an important opportunity to honour those people, past and present, so I would urge MPs to support these awards.”

The one-off NHS70 Parliamentary Awards are being organised by NHS England and NHS Improvement, in association with IBM and Dods.

MPs are being asked to put forward nominations in the following categories:

  • The Excellence in Cancer Care Award: an individual or team which is going above and beyond to improve outcomes and experience for patients living with and beyond cancer.
  • The Excellence in Mental Health Care Award: an individual or team which has developed new and effective services to help people living with mental health problems in the community.
  • The Excellence in Urgent and Emergency Care Award: an individual or team which has made improvements to how the NHS treats people in life or death situations.
  • The Excellence in Primary Care Award: a primary care practitioner or team which is working with patients to help them stay healthy in their own homes.
  • The Person-Centred Care Champion Award: an individual or team which has gone furthest towards bringing together services to ensure patients with long-term and multiple conditions get the right care in the right place for them.
  • The Future NHS Award: an individual or team that has successfully trialled and embedded innovative change(s) to empower and improve care for patients.
  • The Healthier Communities Award: an individual or team which has brought different groups together to improve public health in their areas.
  • The Care and Compassion Award: any nurse, midwife or care staff member of any discipline and in any setting who has used their skills to ensure that patients experience care and compassion .
  • The Patient and Public Involvement Award: to celebrate volunteers who help shape and deliver better services in their area.
  • The Lifetime Achievement Award: for an individual who has worked within a health or care setting for 40 years or more who has left a lasting legacy.

MPs have until 23 March to submit their nominations. MPs will choose one nomination per category; these will then be judged by senior local and regional NHS experts to find a regional champion in each category, to be announced on 21 May.

These regional champions will then be judged by a high-level panel, with the winners announced at a special awards ceremony in Parliament on 4 July – the day before the NHS’s 70th birthday.

Further information on the Parliamentary Awards, including how to nominate and the criteria for each category, is available at

Information on the other ways in which the NHS’s 70th birthday is being marked is available at