08th October 2019

Image: OHH Vote.Four NHS staff from the South East region, who are among the finalists in the 2019 Our Health Heroes awards, are hoping the public will get behind them as the vote to decide the winners goes live!

Voting is now open for the public to show their support for the nation’s healthcare workers who have gone above and beyond the call of duty and have been judged as regional finalists in this year’s Our Health Heroes Awards.

In the South East region, Emma Worrell and Tracey Underhill are among the 12 regional finalists in each of the Clinical Support Worker of the Year and Operational Services Support Worker of the Year categories.

Emma and Tracey now need the public’s vote to help them in being crowned a National Our Health Heroes winner of their category at the Our Health Heroes Awards Ceremony on Wednesday 20th November 2019 at London’s Science Museum.

Emma is a technician in the prosthetics team at Queen Victoria Hospital where she specialises in creating perfectly matched artificial eyes. She prides herself on delivering high standards of care to patients who have often endured traumatic, life changing events and her calm and caring manner are pivotal to the bonds she builds and the trust she inspires.

Emma has set up a nationwide study for artificial eye users and has presented her research to academic and healthcare audiences and been featured on Radio 4’s Inside Health show. The findings of her research will make a real difference to patients across the UK and beyond.

Emma said: “I feel very humbled to have been nominated for this award. I am passionate about the care all of our patients receive. Our NHS and my research will provide an evidence base to benefit the current 40,000+ artificial eye users but also provide up-to-date information for new patients.

“Our work on prosthetic eyes is very much a team effort. I have a keen interest in research to benefit patients and I am lucky enough to work with an expert and enthusiastic team of maxillofacial prosthetists. Queen Victoria Hospital does amazing work rebuilding people’s lives and I am proud to play my part in that.”

The Queen Victoria Hospital commented: “Emma creates beautifully shaped and delicately painted prosthetics eyes which are so carefully matched to the patient’s remaining eye it is very hard to spot the difference. The patients she works with have often had traumatic, life changing events and her calm and caring manner builds confidence and inspires trust. The nationwide research into artificial eyes which she has initiated will lead to the first real updating of our understanding of user experience and best practice since the 1970s.”

Meanwhile Tracey has been nominated in the Operational Services Support Worker category for the work she does as a Freedom to Speak Up Guardian at Buckinghamshire NHS, where she upholds the importance of speaking up for patient and staff safety.

Thanks to her work, the team have been able to work more effectively together and as a result are happier and continue to provide outstanding patient care.

Tracey said: “It is an incredible privilege to be recognised for my work and I pay tribute to all our wonderful clinical and non-clinical staff. It is a great honour and lovely surprise to receive a nomination for this award, I look forward to celebrating this achievement.”

Neil Macdonald, Chief Executive of Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust said: “Since commencing her post as Freedom to Speak Up Guardian (FTSUG) in May 2017, Tracey has worked with colleagues across the Trust to embed a positive speaking up culture at Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust.

“We have made significant progress throughout our journey; our recent staff survey shows a 4% increase in staff who feel secure in raising concerns and a 4% increase in staff saying they are confident that the organisation would address their concern.

“It is fantastic to see that Tracey's dedication and commitment has been recognised; the Trust is fortunate to have a Freedom to Speak Up Guardian who is so in tune with the needs of our staff.”

The public vote will also decide who takes home bronze, silver and gold in the Outstanding Contribution and Apprentice of the Year categories.

Christina Ginsburg, a Palliative Care Discharge Coordinator from Mountbatten Hospice has been nominated to receive the Outstanding Contribution award due to her efficient and inspirational nature with patients.

It is because of Christina that patients receiving end of life treatment are able to spend their last days in the comfort of their homes surrounded by their loved ones. Due to this complex nature of work, coordinated, timely and safe discharges are required to facilitate each patient effectively.

Christina applies her expert knowledge and embodies the values of the organisation through her innovative work with patients and colleagues to ensure the requests of each patient are met with care and speed.

Her colleagues have called Christina an inspiration, her bravery and strength makes the impossible, possible.

Christina commented: “This award is a delightful surprise. It is a privilege to be recognised for the commitment of our team, working together to support and care for patients coming to the end of their life.”

Liz Arnold, Director of Nursing at Mountbatten said: “We’re delighted to hear that Christina has been shortlisted for this prestigious award and we would certainly describe her as one of our hospice’s - indeed the Isle of Wight’s - ‘heroes’.

“Christina’s passion and enthusiasm for her role is clear for all to see and is one of the reasons the role has been such a success. She works creatively and flexibly to ensure patients and families receive the very best outcomes possible and she always ‘goes the extra mile’.

“Christina’s motivation is driven by the fact that she cares that everyone gets the best of her, which in turn demands the best from others. Christina has an ability to form trusted relationships and partnership working between hospital, hospice and community settings in addition to her breadth of knowledge and dedication to improving the end of life care experience for people. She is able to articulate some very powerful stories in respect of the difference her role makes to people – patients, relatives and staff.”

Meanwhile in the Apprentice of the Year category Patrick Onyema, an apprentice nursing associate from North East London NHS, has been shortlisted alongside two others.

Since joining the team in 2017, Patrick has been committed to delivering excellent patient care within the Dementia Crisis Support team. He instigated a quality improvement project which went on to win first prize at the Dementia UK conference and he was later invited to present his work at the Alzheimer’s Europe conference in Barcelona.

Patrick commented: “I feel very privileged to have received a nomination, to me, this means so much and I am humbled. The celebration of health care workers in this way is such a positive opportunity to bring our unsung heroes to the forefront in recognition of their selfless contribution to the health sector. It’s not the big things you do that makes you great, but the little things you do in great ways.”

John Rogers, Chief Executive at Skills for Health, said: “For the fourth year in a row these awards have struck a chord and it’s been amazing to read through the nomination forms; there are some truly incredible people working within our healthcare sector who deserve to be recognised for their achievements and dedication.

“I’m delighted that Emma, Tracey, Christina and Patrick have been shortlisted in their individual categories. It will be up to the public to decide whether they take home the national award, but all of our finalists are already worthy winners.”

Members of the public can vote once in each category. Voting closes Friday 11th October.

Please    VOTE NOW     and show your support for your region’s Our Health Heroes.

Follow all of the Awards progress live on social media #OurHealthHeroes