Butterfly volunteers win national NHS70 award

The Butterfly Volunteers at East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust were today (4 July 18) honoured in parliament as part of a special, one-off competition to mark the NHS’s 70th birthday.

The NHS70 Parliamentary Awards, sponsored by IBM and Teva, were launched in February to recognise the massive contribution made by the individuals who work in and alongside the NHS.

MPs in England were asked to nominate individuals and teams serving their constituents across 10 categories. Regional champions were selected in May, with the national winners chosen by a panel of senior leaders representing staff and patients.

The Butterfly Volunteers won the Care and Compassion Award and were nominated by Sir Oliver Heald QC MP.

Dr Aly Rashid, Medical Director for NHS England (Central Midlands), said:  “The volunteers support patients and their families in their last days of life at the Lister Hospital, Stevenage.  They offer compassionate listening and companionship, particularly for those with few or no visitors.  Their vision is that no one has to die alone.  And that is commendable.”

The service, funded by the Hospital Charity, innovatively encourages local people to care for dying patients, within an acute hospital setting, promoting the development of compassionate communities.​

Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, presented them with the award said: “The Butterfly Volunteers team exemplify the good things that can happen when volunteers, NHS charities and professionals work together, and it was a real privilege for me to part of recognising them here today. The last days of life can be an exceptionally difficult time for anyone, but particularly those who may not have someone there for them, so these volunteers perform an exceptionally valuable service, which I hope continues to flourish.”

Angela Fenn, Butterfly volunteer service co-ordinator and who received the award added: “Winning this award will have a tremendous impact on the future of this amazing service.  It will not only allow us to go forward and expand, but ultimately help and advise other NHS trusts on how they can make a difference to their patients who find themselves alone at the end of their life.”

A relative who wished to remain anonymous said: Our whole family would like to express how thankful we are to have the Butterfly volunteers around during our Mum’s last days.  Knowing there was a Butterfly volunteer who would sit with Mum when we were not able to be by her side bought us comfort.  Coming into the room at the hospital and seeing a volunteer reading poems, showed us just how much you all care about making sure our beautiful Mum never felt alone at this sad time.”

Simon Stevens, NHS England chief executive, said: “As we celebrate the 70th birthday of the NHS, it’s an opportune moment to recognise the extraordinarily dedicated and selfless health service staff, and those who work or volunteer alongside them, who make the NHS what it is today: the institution that our fellow citizens say makes them proudest to be British.”

Ian Dalton, NHS Improvement chief executive, said: “Today’s winners encapsulate the amazing work of NHS staff and volunteers. We are celebrating all sorts of contributions, because it takes all sorts of people to make the NHS run, from heroes in unsung roles who have devoted their lives to the NHS, to innovators who are changing the way the NHS works.”

They were among the ten winners – selected from more than 750 nominations submitted by over 250 MPs – to receive their awards at a ceremony on the Palace of Westminster’s Terrace Pavilion, hosted by Dr Sara Kayat, NHS GP & TV Doctor. Health Select Committee Chair Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt MP, and the panel of judges collectively representing millions of NHS staff and patients were also on hand to pay tribute to the winners and all those shortlisted.

Wider celebrations to mark the NHS’s big birthday will include thousands of NHS Big 7Tea parties to raise money for NHS charities, whilst dozens of landmark buildings will light up blue, including York Minster, the Blackpool Tower, the Gateshead Millennium Bridge, the London Eye and Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The BT Tower will also run a special birthday message on its iconic infoband.