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Researchers behind lifesaving Astra-Zeneca jab named winners of NHS gong

Posted on July 8th, 2021

The awards, arranged by the NHS, are designed to recognise, and celebrate some of the biggest achievements in health and social care.

Those who created the jab were among nine other winners announced during a ceremony opened by the Prime Minister at One Great George Street, Westminster, on Wednesday afternoon.

Over 65 million vaccinations have been delivered by the NHS since making history when Margaret Keenan received the first jab outside of a clinical trial in Coventry, just over 200 days ago.

Others to scoop a prize included a neonatal team in London who created a live-stream for parents to see their babies 24/7 during visiting restrictions, the team behind ‘pop up’ clinics to diagnose and treat Hepatitis C among homeless people in Leeds, and a team in Birmingham that created a Critical Care Family Liaison service to help hundreds of patients in intensive care keep in touch with their families during the pandemic.

The winners have been selected from more than 700 nominations and were judged by a national panel made up of senior leaders representing both staff and patients.

NHS staff were this week awarded the George Cross for 73 years dedicated service and the response to COVID by Her Majesty the Queen.

Sir Simon Stevens, NHS chief executive, said: “Since the NHS first opened its doors 73 years ago, our health service has faced the biggest challenge in its history with a pandemic on a scale not seen for a century.

“Staff have come together as never before, saving and improving the lives of hundreds of thousands of patients at an extremely difficult time for everyone.

“All of the nominees put forward for an award this year have done incredible work, and it is a great honour to be able to award our winners with the recognition they deserve for their incredible service to us all.”

Speaking in a video at the event, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, said: “On behalf of our whole country, I’d like to offer a huge thank you to every one of our NHS and social care workers. We cherish the extraordinary devotion of all those who serve – the army of doctors and nurses, ambulance crews, cleaners, porters, physios, radiographers pharmacists, midwives, maternity assistants and so many more – you’ve kept coming to work and kept yourselves in harm’s way to save thousands of lives throughout this pandemic.

“These awards are so important because they tell the story of that extraordinary service, 24 hours a day, every second of every hour. From pioneering the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, delivering the fastest and biggest immunisation programme in our history, to comforting worried relatives unable to visit their loved ones and delivering virtual remote care for many in our communities, these awards celebrate the innovation and compassion with which you met unique challenges of this moment.

“I’m grateful to my fellow MPs on all sides of the house for the fantastic nominations submitted and to everyone who has worked so hard to put these awards together, but most of all I’m grateful to the people who make our NHS what it is – the beating heart of Britain.”

More winners at the awards, which were supported by Fujifilm UK, include Sussex GP, Dr Bruce Allan, who worked tirelessly to provide an out of hours and weekend service for local care homes during the pandemic, and Junior Doctor Rajiv Sethi, who has led diversity initiatives and supported healthcare students and professionals virtually through a series of events bringing together 2,500 people from 74 countries to learn more about career opportunities in the NHS.

This year’s lifetime achievement gong has been awarded to 80-year-old grandfather Joe Sim, who has acted in various roles including energy monitor and engineer for NHS Trusts across Derbyshire for the last 58 years.

Chief Midwifery Officer for England and NHS Parliamentary Awards committee chair, Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, said: “This year has been an exceptional one, both in terms of the challenges we have faced and the calibre of entrants we received to the awards. Our shortlisting teams had an extremely difficult task to select from more than 700 nominations submitted by over half of all MPs representing English constituencies. It has been incredibly difficult to judge, but we are confident that all our winners embody the skill, professionalism and compassion of the NHS.

“I hope that these awards go some way in honouring the contribution these inspiring people and teams have made for their country.”

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