3 min read11 July
To state the obvious, this has been a year like no other for the National Health Service, so the judges of the NHS Parliamentary Awards have faced an even tougher job.
From nurses and doctors to paramedics, therapists, porters and cleaners and many others besides, NHS staff have moved heaven and earth to deal with the greatest health emergency in our history. Hospitals have treated around 400,000 seriously ill Covid patients, while pulling out all the stops to minimise disruption to care for other conditions. Entire hospital wings were rapidly repurposed, and critical care dramatically expanded, as the daily number of inpatients peaked above 33,000.
Cancer services were redesigned, and new drugs trialled and deployed to treat Covid.
Everywhere you look, NHS staff and volunteers have gone the extra mile to care for patients and their families, day in day out, embodying the “can do” spirit that has marked the NHS’s response. While doing all this they have delivered our NHS vaccination programme: the biggest in health service history, the fastest in Europe, and the most well targeted in the world.
So, it is no surprise that this year’s shortlist was the most competitive yet.
NHS England established the Parliamentary Awards three years ago to give Members of Parliament the chance to say thank you to outstanding staff in their constituencies. It is an opportunity to reflect on and publicly recognise their enormous contribution.
NHS staff and volunteers have gone the extra mile to care for patients and their families
This year, the awards once again showcase some of the very best care that NHS staff deliver across the country. From the teams who have worked at exceptional pace to develop the first COVID vaccines, to those who have strived to improve care for the most vulnerable in our communities.
This year’s Lifetime Achievement award winner is Joe Sim. He has worked in the NHS for nearly 60 years. Joe has a long and varied career working in hospital engineering and facilities within the NHS.
Despite officially retiring over two decades ago, and now being aged 80, Joe’s passion for the NHS has seen him continue to support his local trust both at work and by volunteering for the League of Friends.
Much has changed since he started working in the NHS – with the introduction of MRI scanners, heart bypasses, organ transplants and much more besides, and Joe’s commitment is an inspiration to us all.
As the health service and the country recover from this terrible pandemic, Covid has put rocket boosters under the move towards joined up care and cooperative working across the NHS and with the care sector and local government. There is wide support for these changes across the service and a desire to see them embedded in legislation. The stunning success of the vaccines programme has also shown how data-driven NHS action can be harnessed to support wider action on prevention. So this is the blueprint we’ll adopt to tackle the big killer conditions such as stroke, heart attacks, cancer along with mental ill-health.
None of this is possible without the skill and dedication of the 1.4 million NHS staff, supported by an army of volunteers, carers and colleagues in the care sector. It is people like Joe, who work tirelessly and diligently to leave the health service a better place than they found it, who make the NHS what it is today: one of our country’s proudest achievements.
Sir Steven Simons is Chief Executive of NHS England
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