Two finalists from the Northern Region chosen for the inaugural ‘Our Health Heroes’ awards

An emergency care assistant at Berwick ambulance station and a cleaner at Happy House surgery in Sunderland are today (Tuesday) recognised with Our Health Heroes awards. The honours have been created by Skills for Health and the National Skills Academy for Health, in partnership with UNISON.

Iain Scott and Liz Mason have been chosen as national finalists for Clinical Support Worker of the Year and Operational Services Worker of the Year respectively.

Iain was put forward for his dedication and selflessness. He regularly checks up on patients in the community in his spare time, and does errands for them before turning up for his own shifts. Iain also runs the station’s tea and social fund, and greatly increases the morale of staff.

Liz was nominated for her positive attitude and for working hard to improve her skills. Since joining the surgery, she has achieved several national vocational qualifications (NVQs). Her innovative thinking is recognised by everyone at work and she is a valued member of the team.

Iain and Liz are among 24 men and women who are recognised today (Tuesday) for keeping the NHS running behind the scenes and improving the lives of patients.

The awards celebrate the exceptional contribution made by healthcare staff including hospital porters, emergency care assistants and admin officers who are crucial in the delivery of patient care yet rarely get praised for the work they do.

Healthcare teams across the UK were asked to nominate colleagues for one of two awards – Clinical Support Worker of the Year and Operational Services Worker of the Year.The names of those shortlisted as regional winners will now go forward to a public vote to choose an overall national winner in each category.

The awards received over 500 entries, including 10 from the North. Selected by a panel of industry judges, Iain, Liz and the other finalists were chosen for their ability to put patients first, to act as positive role models to colleagues and to overcome personal challenges in their lives.

John Rogers, chief executive at Skills for Health, said: “The NHS couldn’t function without the dedication of clinical support workers and operational service staff. They ensure that hospitals and healthcare practices around the UK provide the best care possible for patients.

“They keep the health service running efficiently and effectively, yet their efforts often go unnoticed. Our research has shown that the health sector can only reach its potential in terms of productivity and efficiency by understanding the contribution and value of support workers.

“We are delighted with the calibre of award entries we have received and the judges certainly had a difficult task in selecting our regional winners. Each of our 24 national finalists are already winners in their region, and should be proud of their commitment to their roles in healthcare.”

The winners will be announced at a special awards ceremony hosted at UNISON’s headquarters in Euston, London, on 29 November 2016. People can vote for Iain and Liz to win the overall awards for Clinical Support Worker of the Year and Operational Services Worker of the Year via: until 14 November 2016.

Candace Miller, director of the National Skills Academy for Health, said: “As an organisation devoted to ensuring healthcare support staff have access to the training they need for the job they love, we have been really pleased to see so many responses giving recognition to the fantastic contribution support staff make to healthcare services.

“Each of our 24 regional winners has shown remarkable dedication to their jobs and the delivery of patient care. Each of them is a compassionate, forward thinker and a role model to colleagues for their positive attitude. We are looking forward to celebrating all of our inspirational winners from across the clinical and operational services support workforce who make a significant difference on a daily basis.”

Christina McAnea, head of health at UNISON said: “Without the hard work and dedication of support staff, nurses, paramedics, midwives, radiographers and other health colleagues, would quite simply be unable to do their jobs.

“It’s vital we celebrate the amazing work of clinical support and operational services staff, which often goes way above and beyond their roles. They are the unsung heroes of the NHS.”

The awards follow on from the #OurHealthHeroes social media campaign launched by Skills for Health in February that encouraged people to share stories about workers who make a difference. The campaign has been supported by organisations including Health Education England, Alder Hey Hospital, Great Ormond Street Hospital and Southmead Hospital.

Our Health Heroes awards celebrates the nearly 800,000 staff across the UK’s health sector who work as healthcare assistants, assistant practitioners, porters, cleaners, caterers, maintenance workers and administrative staff by encouraging people who have benefited from their support to share their stories.

To vote for Iain and Liz as Clinical Support Worker of the Year and Operational Services Worker of the Year visit: until 14 November 2016.

 The UK health sector employs more than 2.1 million people, and two fifths (798,600) are support staff. Almost 26,000 people work in catering, and there are 15,000 maintenance workers, making them the fifth largest group of support workers in the sector.


Skills for Health is the Sector Skills Council for all health sector employers­ – NHS, independent and third sector. Since 2002 it has been working with employers to get the right people with the right skills in the right place at the right time. It is the authoritative voice on skills issues for the health sector and offers proven workforce solutions and tools, with the expertise and experience to use them effectively. To find out more, please

The National Skills Academy for Health (NSA Health) The support workforce makes a vital contribution to the delivery of healthcare in the UK. It makes up 40% of the workforce and delivers the majority of the day-to-day, face-to-face caring and interaction with patients. The National Skills Academy for Health (NSA Health) works with healthcare employers to help them create a qualified and transferable workforce, with every individual recognised and valued for the skills they have, and encouraged and enabled to develop the skills they want and need. We work on a not-for-profit basis to meet five objectives:

  • Improving the quality of training provision available to healthcare support workers
  • Ensuring managers know how and where they can access great training for their staff
  • Helping our employer partners make the best use of their support workforce now and in the future
  • Offering practical support to help our employer partners make the best use of workforce skills
  • Building capability to free up professionally qualified clinical staff

UNISON is one of the UK’s largest trade unions, serving more than 1.3 million people who work in a range of public services and utilities. They include healthcare assistants, homecare workers and hospital porters. For more information, visit