NHS vaccine programme chief among health service honours

The head of the world-leading NHS COVID vaccination programme is recognised in the New Year Honours list alongside dozens of colleagues from across the health service.

The Damehood for Dr Emily Lawson comes just over a year after the NHS made history by launching the first national COVID vaccines programme by delivering the first Pfizer jab outside of a clinical trial.

Since then NHS staff and volunteers have delivered more than 111,000,000 doses, protecting 43 million people, including 28 million boosters to counter Omicron.

England’s Deputy Chief Nursing Officer, Professor Mark Radford, who helped lead the recruitment of vaccine staff and volunteers, and the NHS’ lead on safeguarding vulnerable children and adults, Kenny Gibson, were also awarded a CBE and MBE respectively.

The hard work and dedication of a wide variety of NHS staff has been recognised once again in this year’s Honours list, with GPs, nurses and midwives as well as pharmacists, hospital leaders and a speech and language therapist among those scooping gongs.

A number are recognised for their service during the COVID pandemic, while others are recognised for a career in which they have made a significant difference to care – both for their own patients and nationally as leaders in their fields.

They include:

  • Gloucestershire Hospitals chief nurse Professor Steven Hams, who led the vaccine programme in Gloucestershire, recognised with an MBE for services to nursing;
  • Bedminster Pharmacy Superintendent Pharmacist Adeyemi (Ade) Williams, awarded an MBE for services to the NHS and to the community in South Bristol, particularly during COVID-19, and;
  • Chelsea and Westminster Hospital Director of Midwifery, Victoria Cochrane, awarded an MBE for services to midwifery.

NHS chief executive, Amanda Pritchard, said: “Every single member of the NHS team has made a huge contribution over the last year, from dealing with over 100,000 COVID-19 admissions during January, to delivering over 110 million jabs, recovering services impacted by the pandemic and latterly gearing up once again to deal with the Omicron variant.

“It is great to see this effort reflected again in dozens of honours for those working across the NHS, and I want to congratulate every one of those receiving recognition today for their efforts – not just over the last two years, but in many cases for decades of service to their communities and making a real and lasting difference for patients”.

NHS England and NHS Improvement employees

Dr Lawson, a molecular geneticist by background, ran the first phase of the NHS vaccine programme before being seconded to Downing Street as head of the Prime Minister’s delivery unit. She has returned temporarily to lead the booster campaign.

The NHS vaccine programme, the biggest and most successful in health service history, and has saved over 127,000 lives, with more than three quarters of people who are eligible having now received their booster jab.

She has also been honoured for her work to improve women’s representation in boardrooms.

Dr Emily Lawson, head of the NHS COVID vaccination programme, has been made a Dame.

Dr Lawson said: “I am honoured and delighted to be recognised on behalf of the army of dedicated and hardworking staff and volunteers who have delivered the biggest and most successful vaccination programme in health service history.

“We’ve seen record after record broken over the festive season including on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, so I want to thank every NHS staff member and volunteer whose goodwill and determination to protect their communities has kept the rollout going.

“It has been the greatest privilege to see first-hand the amazing work done at vaccination sites and to speak to so many staff and volunteers – from people who’ve worked for the health service their whole life, to new recruits – all have gone over and above, day in and day out particularly in recent weeks to make sure others are protected. I’m so grateful to all of them and to everyone who has supported the programme”.

Professor Mark Radford, Deputy Chief Nurse and Chief Nurse HEE, is honoured with a CBE.

Mark, who qualified as a nurse in 1994, supported the pandemic management and led the national NHS vaccine workforce and training programme, ensuring success in phase one, with the delivery of 15 million vaccinations and recently again supporting the booster efforts. The NHS vaccine teams across England recruited and trained over 250,000 people from local communities, the NHS, Military, Volunteer organisations such as St Johns Ambulance and RVS to launch one of world’s fastest vaccination programmes.

Professor Radford said: “This is a great honour and I am proud to receive this award which recognises the dedication and hard work of the tens of thousands of nurses and volunteers who have made it possible for the NHS to deliver over 110 million COVID vaccinations since December 2019.

“As we enter 2022, I have every confidence that the NHS’s rapid vaccination programme will continue to innovate how we deliver life-saving protection, including setting up vaccination sites in sports grounds, religious settings, community hubs and even restaurants”.

Kenny Gibson, NHS England national head of safeguarding, has been honoured with an MBE.

Kenny Gibson began his NHS career as a laundry assistant at a mental health unit and after being encouraged to become a nursing assistant, trained as a nurse and then a midwife.

Kenny, who has held various operational, management and strategic posts in both community and public health, currently oversees several portfolios including tackling abuse, exploitation, radicalisation and violence.

Mr Gibson said: “I am proud to honoured in this list and want to also recognise the tens of thousands of NHS staff who work in programmes to tackle domestic abuse & violence, child sexual exploitation, as well as caring for Looked After Children and programmes to empower people to improve their own well-being.

“Through the dedication of thousands of NHS staff around the country who take the time to connect with and listen to patients, carers and fellow health practitioners, we help some of the country’s most vulnerable people. This work is vital and lifesaving”.