Turning the spotlight on those working behind the scenes in health and care

Andrew Lovegrove, senior workforce consultant at Skills for Health, writes about the Our Health Heroes awards and why they are particularly important this year, after the publication of the NHS People Plan and People Promise.

The recently published NHS People Plan and People Promise made a welcome commitment in a number of vital areas to ensure a greater focus on 'working together to improve the experience of working in the NHS for everyone.' The People Promise in particular clearly sets out what matters most to the NHS workforce, and what can make the greatest difference in improving the experience in the workplace, both now and in the longer term.

Having partnered with NHS Employers for the second year running, supporting our annual national awards, Our Health Heroes, which pay tribute to health and care support staff who go above and beyond the call of duty in their roles, we at Skills for Health couldn’t help but notice the parallels between two of the objectives of the People Promise, and the purpose of the awards:

1. We are a team – we learn from each other, support each other, and take time to celebrate successes.
2. We are recognised and rewarded – a simple thank you for our day-to-day work, formal recognition for our dedication, and fair salary for our contribution.

The reason the NHS functions so well is effective teamwork – that much is abundantly clear. And of course, the compassion and care that millions of people receive from the NHS every day comes not only from doctors and nurses, but from the whole healthcare team, who all play a part in making a real difference to people’s lives.

Over the years, there have been numerous metaphors used across the media to describe our workforce. Junior doctors have been dubbed the 'backbone' of the NHS, nurses referred to as 'angels’, and GPs as the ‘bedrock’ of the NHS. All of these are well-deserved. They demonstrate the real affection and respect of the UK for an institution that is vitally important to the lives of the whole population. The NHS itself is often described as a national treasure, and never has this been more apposite than in 2020.

'Heroes' is a description that is liberally used for frontline staff, and of course it is applicable, but it’s frequently used for those staff who work 'behind the scenes', providing vital care and support, but in less well recognised roles. The Our Health Heroes awards are an opportunity to celebrate those staff, who demonstrate the core values of the NHS on a daily basis.

Especially in the current circumstances, the NHS and the UK are truly fortunate to have so many staff, in such a wide range of roles, with the dedication and fortitude that pushes them to go the extra mile for patients and communities.

Nominations are now open, and those working in the NHS and who use its services are invited to take a look around for those everyday heroes and put them forward for an award, to help celebrate the incalculable contribution they make.

NHS Employers is supporting the outstanding contribution category, and there are eight other categories. Visit the Our Health Heroes website to find out more.

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