Researchers behind lifesaving Astra-Zeneca jab named winners of NHS gong

Research teams at Oxford University who joined forces to fight coronavirus by developing a COVID vaccine in record time are among the winners of this year’s NHS Parliamentary Awards, sponsored by Fuji Film.

The awards, arranged by the NHS, are designed to recognise, and celebrate some of the biggest achievements in health and social care.

Those who created the jab were among nine other winners announced during a ceremony opened by the Prime Minister at One Great George Street, Westminster, on Wednesday afternoon.

Over 65 million vaccinations have been delivered by the NHS since making history when Margaret Keenan received the first jab outside of a clinical trial in Coventry, just over 200 days ago.

Others to scoop a prize included a neonatal team in London who created a live-stream for parents to see their babies 24/7 during visiting restrictions, the team behind ‘pop up’ clinics to diagnose and treat Hepatitis C among homeless people in Leeds, and a team in Birmingham that created a Critical Care Family Liaison service to help hundreds of patients in intensive care keep in touch with their families during the pandemic.

The winners have been selected from more than 700 nominations and were judged by a national panel made up of senior leaders representing both staff and patients.

NHS staff were this week awarded the George Cross for 73 years dedicated service and the response to COVID by Her Majesty the Queen.

Sir Simon Stevens, NHS chief executive, said: “Since the NHS first opened its doors 73 years ago, our health service has faced the biggest challenge in its history with a pandemic on a scale not seen for a century.

“Staff have come together as never before, saving and improving the lives of hundreds of thousands of patients at an extremely difficult time for everyone.

“All of the nominees put forward for an award this year have done incredible work, and it is a great honour to be able to award our winners with the recognition they deserve for their incredible service to us all.”

Speaking in a video at the event, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, said: “On behalf of our whole country, I’d like to offer a huge thank you to every one of our NHS and social care workers. We cherish the extraordinary devotion of all those who serve – the army of doctors and nurses, ambulance crews, cleaners, porters, physios, radiographers pharmacists, midwives, maternity assistants and so many more – you’ve kept coming to work and kept yourselves in harm’s way to save thousands of lives throughout this pandemic.

“These awards are so important because they tell the story of that extraordinary service, 24 hours a day, every second of every hour. From pioneering the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, delivering the fastest and biggest immunisation programme in our history, to comforting worried relatives unable to visit their loved ones and delivering virtual remote care for many in our communities, these awards celebrate the innovation and compassion with which you met unique challenges of this moment.

“I’m grateful to my fellow MPs on all sides of the house for the fantastic nominations submitted and to everyone who has worked so hard to put these awards together, but most of all I’m grateful to the people who make our NHS what it is – the beating heart of Britain.”

More winners at the awards, which were supported by Fujifilm UK, include Sussex GP, Dr Bruce Allan, who worked tirelessly to provide an out of hours and weekend service for local care homes during the pandemic, and Junior Doctor Rajiv Sethi, who has led diversity initiatives and supported healthcare students and professionals virtually through a series of events bringing together 2,500 people from 74 countries to learn more about career opportunities in the NHS.

This year’s lifetime achievement gong has been awarded to 80-year-old grandfather Joe Sim, who has acted in various roles including energy monitor and engineer for NHS Trusts across Derbyshire for the last 58 years.

Chief Midwifery Officer for England and NHS Parliamentary Awards committee chair, Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, said: “This year has been an exceptional one, both in terms of the challenges we have faced and the calibre of entrants we received to the awards. Our shortlisting teams had an extremely difficult task to select from more than 700 nominations submitted by over half of all MPs representing English constituencies. It has been incredibly difficult to judge, but we are confident that all our winners embody the skill, professionalism and compassion of the NHS.

“I hope that these awards go some way in honouring the contribution these inspiring people and teams have made for their country.”

The ten NHS Parliamentary award winners selected by an expert panel are:

The Care and Compassion Award, sponsored by LV – Critical Care Family Liaison Team, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust

At the height of the pandemic, critical care bed numbers quickly expanded to accommodate hundreds of patients needing intensive care across the Trust’s three sites. Coinciding with this rise in numbers of critically ill patients was a restriction on all visitors to hospitals. A group of medical students, with support from ICU consultants and other retired / returning consultants, became the critical care family liaison team and the first point of contact for worried relatives, relaying their messages to patients and gathering information about each patient’s progress and sharing with loved ones – providing support where needed.

Nominated by Jess Phillips MP, who said: “During the first wave of Coronavirus the work of this team keeping families connected with patients was vital while visits were restricted, it’s a pleasure to see their work recognised.”

Managing Director for Retail at LV= General Insurance, Heather Smith, said: “We’re delighted that the Critical Care Family Liaison team who are part of the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust are the winners of this year’s Care and Compassion Award. The team have done incredible work to keep critically ill patients and their families connected during such a challenging year. They’ve shown care and compassion throughout, adapting to new ways of communicating with patients and families, which is what this award represents.

“We were so impressed by the high standard of entries from across the regions and I’d like to congratulate everyone. It’s fantastic to celebrate the remarkable skills and qualities of our NHS staff and LV= GI are proud to be part of it today.”

The Excellence in Healthcare Award – The research teams working on the COVID-19 vaccine at the University of Oxford: Oxford Vaccine Group and Jenner Institute

The Oxford Vaccine Group and the Jenner Institute are two research teams at the University of Oxford who joined forces to fight coronavirus by developing a vaccine in record time.

Nominated by Layla Moran MP, who said: “This is fantastic news. It’s vital we recognise the incredible contribution of the Oxford Vaccine Group to our ability to fight coronavirus. We must celebrate their achievements. I hope they win!

The Excellence in Mental Health Care Award, sponsored by Lloyds Banking Group – The Life Rooms

Three Life Rooms across the North West provide a safe and welcoming place to access community resources and help people feel included in community activities. During Covid-19 the buildings were closed due to restrictions, but within two weeks of lockdown the team created ‘Life Rooms Online’ in order to continue to actively support communities at a time when they were needed most – supporting people’s mental and physical wellbeing.

Nominated by Dan Carden MP.

Group Sustainable Business Director at Lloyds Banking Group, Fiona Cannon, said: “Huge congratulations to all of those involved in the Life Rooms. The services they provide are crucial to the mental health and well-being of the people in their community, especially during these difficult times.

“Lloyds Banking Group is delighted to have been able to sponsor the ‘Excellence in Mental Health’ category of the NHS Parliamentary awards, and I would like to pay tribute to everyone shortlisted. The work you do is invaluable at any time, but especially during the pandemic and is an important part of the process of helping Britain recover. We at Lloyds, working alongside our charity partner Mental Health UK, are determined to play our part and help support those who are in the front line.”

The Excellence in Primary Care Award, sponsored by Assura plc – Dr Bruce Allan

Sussex GP Dr Bruce Allan worked tirelessly to provide an out of hours and weekend service for local care homes during the pandemic. Building up a network of GPs across Sussex, he helped ensure care home residents could access personalised care seven days a week.

Nominated by Gillian Keegan MP.

Assura CEO, Jonathan Murphy, said: “Dr Allan’s work is a shining example of the innovation shown by primary care and local care homes working together in such challenging circumstances last year, and the difference that made for some of the most vulnerable patients they care for. It’s been a privilege to support the awards in what was a year like no other for primary care, when the commitment of individuals and teams to the experiences patients have, and their access to health services, came to the fore.”

The Excellence in Urgent and Emergency Care Award – London Ambulance Service Macmillan End of Life Care Programme Team

The London Ambulance Service NHS Trust and Macmillan Cancer Support teamed up to create a specialist ‘end of life care’ team, which provides education, guidance, wellbeing support for London Ambulance staff. The work of this passionate team and integration with wider health services has resulted in increased staff confidence, awareness of patient’s preferences and reduced hospital admissions for end of life cancer patients.

Nominated by Bob Blackman MP, James Murray MP and Paul Scully MP.

James Murray MP said: “Over the last year, the London Ambulance Service Macmillan End of Life Care Programme Team have provided crucial support and training to paramedics, under extremely challenging circumstances, to ensure patients receive the best end of life care. This recognition of their difficult and important work is very well deserved.

The Future NHS Award – Sunrise Neonatal Team

The North Middlesex University Hospital’s Sunrise Neonatal Team were able to keep premature babies and their families connected during the start of COVID-19 pandemic by creating a 24/7 video calling service for parents and families to see their babies at a time when visiting was severely restricted due to COVID-19.

Nominated by Bambos Charalambous MP.

The Health Equalities Award – Leeds Street Outreach Initiative for Hepatitis C

The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and West Yorkshire Hepatitis C Virus Operational Delivery Network worked to create a project during the first national lockdown to engage the hard-to-reach vulnerable adult rough sleepers in the community who were placed in hotels around the city. Teams worked to engage, test and treat this group for hepatitis C as well as looking after their general health and wellbeing.

Nominated by Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP.

The Wellbeing at Work Award – The University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Staff Network

The BAME Network Leads at Morecambe Bay are a diverse team of volunteers dedicated to supporting Black, Asian and minority ethnic colleagues. The team go beyond their NHS day jobs to support and advocate for BAME colleagues and raise these themes to influence policy and procedure. This year Covid-19 has impacted BAME communities significantly and disproportionately, and the team has risen to the challenge to protect BAME colleagues’ physical and psychological wellbeing as best possible through a stressful and worrying time.

Nominated by Simon Fell, MP, Tim Farron MP, David Morris MP and Cat Smith MP.

The NHS Rising Star Award, sponsored by Fujifilm UK – Dr Rajiv Sethi

Rajiv began his career with the NHS by volunteering at Trafford General Hospital aged 16. Now 28, he has become a junior doctor in the North West of England, Clinical Entrepreneur Fellow at NHS England and Honorary Research Fellow at Heath Education England. Alongside his clinical training he has led widening participation and diversity efforts to develop the health workforce nationally since 2017. He has also established the UKs largest widening participation programme supporting over 4,500 aspiring and current healthcare professionals. During the pandemic, Rajiv and his team supported healthcare students and professionals virtually through a series of virtual events bringing together 2,500 people from 74 countries to learn more about career opportunities in the NHS. He established the first national discussion between the General Medical Council and medical students in the UK at the start of the pandemic, which trended on UK Twitter at no.4 and reached 1.6 million globally. This helped develop awareness of the new roles for students during the pandemic and the interim junior doctor positions that were created.

Nominated by Sir Graham Brady MP.

Managing Director of Fujifilm UK, Yoshitaka Nakamura, said: “It has been an honour to play a part in celebrating the work of our healthcare heroes, who together showcase an incredible level of care and compassion – in particular, our inspiring NHS Rising Star Award winner, Dr Rajiv Sethi, who has demonstrated remarkable innovation in widening diversity initiatives within the NHS, all while completing his clinical training. Congratulations to Rajiv and to all nominees at this year’s Awards.”

The Lifetime Achievement Award – Joe Sim

80-year-old grandfather Joe Sim is an engineer and Energy Monitor for University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust. Having held a number of roles at the Trust since his first job as Assistant Engineer at Pastures Hospital in 1962, Joe now continues to advise the Trust as Energy Monitor – despite being ‘retired’ for 10 years. Joe played an instrumental role in moving acute services from Derbyshire Royal Infirmary to the now Royal Derby Hospital, working with colleagues to outline the benefits of the move, knowing that he could help to build a bigger and better hospital which was easier to access for patients.

In his spare time, Joe also volunteers for the hospital’s League of Friends, delivering newspapers to patients on the wards. Joe has been making a difference in hospitals throughout Derbyshire for 58 years.

Nominated by Amanda Solloway MP, who said: “Joe is an incredibly inspirational man who has made the NHS his life for nearly 60 years. His dedication knows no limits and he is truly worthy of this award.”