Cheers of celebration mingled with emotional tears as the worthy winners of this year’s Yorkshire Evening Post Best of Health Awards were announced.
The very best health workers in the region were honoured through a special ceremony at the Queens Hotel.
For the fifth year, the awards recognised those people working in the health field who go above and beyond to make a difference to people’s wellbeing.
Winners in the 11 categories included doctors, nurses, teams, midwives, hospice staff, practice managers, carers, mental health workers and health teams based in the community.
Moving tributes to those shortlisted were read out, including from patients who said their lives had been changed or that they had been enabled to spend precious time with a loved one during the last days of her life.
The audience also heard of the achievements of nominees, which included providing vital healthcare to homeless people, reducing teenage pregnancy, cancelling leave to ensure people received vital care, checking on patients while on holiday or simply doing “everything in their power” to keep someone well.
Nicola Furbisher, editor of the Yorkshire Evening Post, told attendees they played a vital role in society by preventing illness, providing support or treatment.
“Every person or team who was nominated has made an impact on someone’s life, so every shortlisted nominee or group should feel incredibly proud of being chosen.
“Our judges had an extremely tough task in picking this year’s winners from an impressive field.
“It’s a privilege for us to be able to host these awards and highlight these fantastic people who are so deserving of praise.”
This year, the Special Contribution award recognised the huge impact made by West Yorkshire doctor Kate Granger, who died in July.
Dr Granger was recognised at the first Best of Health Awards, which were held in 2012, where she won the Judge’s Award.
She had been diagnosed with terminal cancer the year earlier, aged 29, and was fundraising for the Yorkshire Cancer Centre Appeal through two books based on her diaries, which also aimed to give medics an insight into being a patient.
This year’s audience heard that she continued to fundraise, in total collecting £250,000 for the appeal.
She also started the #hellomynameis campaign to encourage staff to introduce themselves, which has since been taken on board throughout the world.
Nichola Dixon, host of the awards, said: “Our judges wanted to recognise this incredible list of achievements and honour this inspirational person who changed the face of healthcare.”
Dr Granger’s husband, Chris Pointon, accepted the award. “I’m proud I had the privilege of knowing Kate,” he said.
The awards were sponsored for the fifth time by Sovereign Health Care, and chief executive Russ Piper said: “When you access healthcare, you access it through individuals. The Best of Health Awards are a great opportunity to recognise some of these great people.”
He presented this year’s Judge’s Award, which goes to the exceptional winner from the other categories. This year the prize went to Mick Pungi, ward housekeeper at St James’s Hospital, who was also named Unsung Hero for his “vital role” working during the night on maternity wards.
Nichola Dixon added: “He is an incredibly hard worker, who says he will ‘keep going until the engine stops’. Overall, the judges felt he was a true unsung hero of healthcare.”
Here are all the winners:
Carer or Caring Team of the Year
Winner: Pam Marcantonio, carer/team leader with Rest Assured Homecare Services
Highly commended: Carers Leeds
Mental Health Worker or Team of the Year
Winner: Mark Thorpe, community recovery worker at Community Recovery Services
Highly commended: Caroline, mental health dietician at Asket Croft Recovery Centre
Midwife or Midwifery Team of the Year
Winner: Sue Oxendale, bereavement support midwife at Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust
Highly commended: Laura Gornall, midwife at St James’s Hospital, Leeds
Community Health Award
Winner: Lynda Dexter and colleagues at the Leeds Community Healthcare Podiatry Service
Highly commended: Ashfield Medical Practice, Cross Gates
Doctor of the Year
Winner: Dr Fiona Schneider, clinical lead of sexual health services run by Spectrum, Wakefield
Highly commended: Dr Stephen Humphris, Meanwood Health Centre
Winner: Mick Pungi, ward housekeeper at St James’s Hospital
Highly commended: Nicola Pickup, health support and advocacy worker at the Basis Sex Work project
Practice Manager of the Year
Linda Benn, Greystones Medical Centre, Sheffield
Nurse or Nursing Team of the Year
Craig Russell, ICD specialist nurse at LGI
Team of the Year
Winner: Get Me Better Champions, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
Highly commended: Nursing staff, St Gemma’s Hospice, Leeds
Mick Pungi, ward housekeeper at St James’s Hospital
Dr Kate Granger