09th February 2017 Written by Skills for Health

Image: Nicky Stiles.At Skills for Health, it is our mission to champion the healthcare support workforce and make everyone aware of the incredible contribution they make to patient care in the UK.

A year ago today, we launched Our Health Heroes, a campaign to celebrate the support workforce and everything they do. Here we take a look at our journey so far.

It started with a video...

Support workers make up 40% of the entire health workforce, but their work often goes unrecognised. For people to really take notice, we knew we had to make the country's real health heroes the faces of the campaign and give patients a chance to say thank you.

It all began with a video filmed at Southmead Hospital in Bristol, featuring real-life healthcare support workers. It was an instant hit, quickly reaching tens of thousands of views.

We were thrilled to see our message beginning to spread on social media. In a few short weeks the video had reached 98,000 views and our initial social posts reached over four million people: it was working! We knew we had to keep the momentum up, and take #OurHealthHeroes to the next level.

Image: Will Dunn Theatre Care Assistant.From strength to strength...

In May 2016, we launched Paediatrics Week, a social campaign to coincide with International Children's Day and champion the support workers that look after our children day in, day out.

After reaching out to children's hospitals far and wide, we received guest blogs, images and social support from the likes of Alder Hey, Birmingham, Sheffield and Great Ormond Street Hospitals. Introducing so many paediatric support workers and giving people the chance to meet and thank their children's health heroes proved a massive success.

The next step was to actually reward support workers for their hard work: the Our Health Heroes Awards were born.

And the winners are...

When applications opened for employers to put forward a health hero from their workplace, the nominations flooded in.

By the closing date, we had received more than 500 entries from all over the UK and faced the almost impossible task of narrowing them down to just 24.

After reading so many inspirational stories of worthy nominees, our panel of expert judges whittled it down to just 12 regional Clinical Support Workers of the Year and 12 Operational Services Workers of the Year.

All the Health Heroes and some very special guests were invited to the awards ceremony at UNISON's prestigious headquarters in London. Our host and compere, Dr Phil Hammond, welcomed each of the regional winners and congratulated them for all their hard work to keep the NHS running behind the scenes.

After presenting each of the regional winners with their hard-earned awards, Elizabeth Cameron, a day centre receptionist from Belfast, and Iain Scott, an ambulance worker from Berwick, were announced as the two national winners.

Operational Services Worker of the Year, Elizabeth said “winning the award was a huge shock” while Clinical Support Worker of the Year Iain couldn't believe it when he was announced as the winner.

A fantastic afternoon was spent celebrating the hard work our support workforce puts in every single day. But don't just take our word for it, catch up on the ceremony below.

What a difference a year makes...

In the last 365 days, we have shone a spotlight on some of our country's health heroes. We have heard their stories, watched them in action and rewarded them for everything they do. We are proud to be making sure everybody knows what a pivotal role the support workforce play on the frontline of the UK's healthcare landscape - but our work is far from done.

We are already looking forward to what this year will bring and plans are underway to bring back the Our Health Heroes Awards this summer, so keep your eyes peeled.

Do you know someone that fits the bill of a Health Hero, someone that deserves recognition for all their hard work, someone that needs to be celebrated? Well, we're declaring today ‘Our Health Heroes Day' so now's your chance to say thank you!

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