Awards celebrate ‘amazing’ NHS staff in exceptionally challenging year

Jasmine Li-Barker

Jasmine Li-Barker - Credit: Archant

Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust last year held its first ever Staff Heroes Awards at a gala celebration evening to thank the frontline and support staff who go ‘above and beyond’ in their roles.

Every day, all our health and care staff strive to provide fabulous care and excellent services, and work to make a real difference to people’s lives.

This year, due to the pandemic, the pressure on staff has been greater than ever before, and it is not possible to hold an awards evening.

The public have been amazing in sharing their appreciation of key workers including health and care staff – through weekly clapping during the first lockdown and through their patience, support and understanding as services have been interrupted or changed, hospital visiting restricted and operations delayed.

The trust is also planning a virtual awards ceremony to mark the amazing contribution of so many of its staff, volunteers and partners working in voluntary sector organisations.

Trust chief executive Liz Davenport said: “2020 has been an exceptionally challenging year for us all, and it is more important than ever that we recognise and celebrate the contribution of all our health and care staff and volunteers, whether in frontline roles or behind the scenes.

“While all our teams have been amazing, there are some who have been singled out for special recognition by their patients or colleagues.

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“Today we are announcing the finalists for our Staff Heroes Awards of 2020, and next week we will reveal the winners.”


Outstanding contribution to ‘Strengthening Partnerships: The trust has around 6,000 staff and none of them works in isolation. They are all part of a team. Each team works with other teams, for example in the NHS, in local councils, charities, care homes, GP practices and other trusts. This award recognises those individuals or teams who have contributed to developing strong and effective partnership working.

Erica Dunn - During a Covid-19 cluster affecting staff and residents of a local care home, Erica stepped in to manage the team during a very challenging two weeks.

Special Care Baby Unit - The Torbay team experienced an emergency involving three infants potentially requiring help to breathe. These infants would normally be transferred for specialist care, however in these exceptional circumstances, the team continued to offer the highest standard of care to the infants and their mothers.

Katy Heard - Katy has been instrumental in many key changes to support carers within Torbay and South Devon. She has also brought a timely focus on supporting carers who work within the wider NHS and council organisations within Torbay.

Outstanding contribution to ‘Wellbeing at Work’: The trust knows that staff who enjoy their work deliver and support great care. This award shines a light on those who help make the organisation a fabulous place to work.

Dr Alice Miller - Alice has been an outstanding leader over the last few years, but particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic. She leads a department working at the front line, coping with daily changes, anxieties, frequent new pressures, system re-designs and resource challenges.

Karen Allison - Karen supported a very nervous, second-year student nurse on placement in her team, giving her the warmest welcome and making her feel part of the team. She always makes time for students, no matter how busy she is on the ward and includes them in everything she does, taking their learning very seriously and working hard to make sure that their learning needs are met.

Kate Sidebottom - Kate has been supporting the flu vaccination campaign as an additional responsibility to her existing pharmaceutical role. It has a major impact on her workload at a very busy time of year. This year, Kate created a new way of distribution the vaccine, improving access for staff and decreasing waste.

Outstanding contribution to ‘Right Care, Right Place’: All trust staff, wherever they work, whatever their role, are driven by the trust’s aim to support and empower people to be as well and as independent as possible. The trust wants to make sure people are in the right place for the care they need, and that they focus on the individual and what is important to them, not just their underlying health issue. This category has awards for individuals and teams working in clinical services and support services.

Frontline care team finalists:

Responsive Feeding Group - The team gained re-accreditation of our Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative status and were commended for maintaining standards as well as giving pregnant women and new mothers a ‘very high standard of care’.

Simpson Ward (care of the elderly) - The ward team pulls together, often stepping outside their comfort zones, to improve the experience of their patients. Staff often spend their breaks and spare moments talking to patients, to keep them calm and make them laugh.

Dr Alice Miller and Acute Medicine - Dr Miller led the team of junior doctors responding to the Covid-19 pandemic. She was always supportive and available, taking phone calls and responding to emails often at anti-social hours to ensure the team were coping.

Frontline care individual finalists:

Michelle Collins - A 97-year-old man dying of pneumonia had no next of kin. Michelle told her family that she would be late home and stayed by his side to the very end, holding his hand, playing him songs from the war and jazz from the 1920s.

Jasmine Li-Barker - Jasmine developed the idea for a rapid assessment area in the emergency department. She researched and wrote it up in her own time and identified how it would benefit patients who come in via ambulance. It was so successful it is now an integral part of our service.

Dr Elliot Haines - Elliot worked on the 111-swabbing protocol and ‘decision-tree’ which was an invaluable tool for the team and has been rolled out to other testing.

Support services team finalists:

Training team - The team have adapted the way they provide training to be both remote and in the classroom. They have supported many groups of anxious staff, who were undertaking training for roles in areas they had never anticipated working in.

Torquay health and social care co-ordinators - In recent months the strain on social care staff has been increasing and demand on services is huge. The team in Torquay have handled the demand fantastically and ensured people in need are helped as quickly as possible.

Operational finance - The team have worked behind the scenes to support the integration of multiple organisations, making sure that all transitions were seamless. They also went the extra mile to hit many tight deadlines.

Support services individual finalists:

Lynn Atkins - Since the first Covid-19 lockdown, Lynn has continued to provide equipment aids and advice to physios, OTs, local hospitals and care workers. This included when Newton Abbot Community Transport’s offices and Shopmobility were closed.

Chris Ellis - During a clinical incident, Chris was first on the scene and although obviously distressed by the situation, remained calm, stayed with the person and co-ordinated assistance from health and social care colleagues.

Kim Nile - Kim always gives 110 per cent regardless of her workload. She single-handedly organised the successful Paignton Health and Wellbeing Centre held an open day.

Outstanding contribution to ‘Sharing Information’: People tell the trust they only want to tell their story once – they expect the GP, social worker, nurse, paramedic, midwife or other health professional to share information with others involved in their care who need to know. This award celebrates progress in making connections and use of technology to share information.

Irene Lee - Irene has put a huge amount of work into developing and rolling out a new clinical portal system on the medical wards, making work life better for medical registrars. Her efforts meant the team were able to provide safer care, with fewer doctors covering more patients.

Dr Richard Eve - When Covid-19 first reached the UK, people were very anxious. Richard gave a very calm, considered, well prepared presentation with a straightforward plan for managing through the pandemic. His approach was used as the foundation of planning for many teams.

Louise Weyman - Louise supported a family going through a very emotional time watching a loved one deteriorate and pass away. Even though the ward was incredibly busy, she took extra time to ensure her patient was comfortable and that the family felt at ease. She also made sure she was with the family to support them at the end of their relative’s life.

Outstanding contribution to ‘Prevention and Staying Well’: More people are now living longer and the trust wants to support them to remain well, so that they enjoy life in older age. This awards recognises excellence in helping to prevent illness and enabling people to manage their health conditions.

Healthy Lifestyles Team - The team wanted to continue to offer their coaching, advice and support service during lockdown and developed a virtual fitness service - one that local people could engage with and feel connected to.

Hester Redfern - Hester went above and beyond her role as ward manager and led the planning and organisation for managing women who were symptomatic/positive to Covid-19.

Covid-19 Shielding Hub - The role of the call centre was to contact those in Torbay who were advised to ‘shield’ and self-isolate due to being extremely vulnerable to Covid-19. Staff from a range of services, including the healthy lifestyles team, community dietitians and public health nursing worked to make more than 9,000 calls to nearly 6000 people living in Torbay.