Sarah Wollaston: How MPs can get involved with the NHS70 Parliamentary awards

Posted On: 
5th February 2018

The National Health Service is nothing without its wonderful staff. Now all MPs have a chance to recognise and celebrate their truly outstanding work, writes Sarah Wollaston

The NHS70 Parliamentary Awards will launch on 7 February in the Churchill Room at the Houses of Parliament
PA Images

On July 5th 2018, the NHS will celebrate its 70th birthday. Working alongside a range of partners, NHS England and NHS Improvement are putting together a programme of events to mark this milestone. Since its creation in 1948, the NHS has held close to its core principles of universal access to a comprehensive service, free at the point of delivery, based on need and not the ability to pay. Those values deliver fairness and it is no surprise that the NHS tops the Pride of Britain list.

Before coming to Parliament I spent over 20 years working as a front line clinician, and I know that the NHS is nothing without its million plus strong workforce. I also know that every member of staff works as part of a team where roles and professional boundaries are becoming far more flexible. Those in clinical roles cannot deliver their services for patients without the dedicated work of non-clinical staff including porters and cleaners, volunteers and managers.

For the million plus NHS family, going to work is a vocation. I am pleased to be sponsoring the NHS70 Parliamentary Awards, a chance for all MPs to celebrate this anniversary and recognise the truly outstanding care which they and their constituents receive.

The Awards will launch on 7 February in the Churchill Room and I hope colleagues will be able to join me between 12.45 and 3pm.

For the awards, MPs will invite, receive and consider potential nominations from their local health and care organisations, and then choose who to officially nominate for a national award before the nomination window closes on March 23rd. The nominations aren’t all for clinical roles – around 60% of the NHS workforce perform vital but often-unseen roles ensuring that the NHS is there to meet the needs of patients, and many more people support patients in other ways, such as via their local Healthwatch, social enterprises or charities.

I encourage all of my colleagues to invite nominations across the ten categories and make sure to set out:

What has been done? – detail the improvements made and why.

Who benefitted? – detail how many patients/communities and/or staff has this had a positive impact on, including particular groups where applicable, and to what extent.

What happens next? – detail how this improvement can be sustained and/or developed further or shared with others locally, regionally or nationally to benefit more patients and/or staff.

On 4 July, there will be an awards ceremony in Parliament to which all shortlisted nominees and their MPs will be invited. This promises to be an inspiring evening, where we will hear some unique stories of personal and professional triumph, and of men and women going beyond what is expected of them to deliver compassionate and world class care.

Any conversation about the last 70 years of the NHS must include reflections on the next 70.

NHS productivity far outstrips background productivity in the UK and the health and care systems have continued to deliver effective care within tightening financial resources. There is a growing cross-party consensus that it is time to find a new deal to guarantee sustainable long-term funding. This needs to take a whole system view of the NHS, public health and social care. Rebranding the Department for Health to add in Social Care, is hopefully more than just a change of name over the door, but recognition of the need for this whole system approach and most importantly so that it delivers better care for the people we are all here to serve.

So thank you, once again, to all of the wonderful staff who make our NHS what it is – and a happy birthday to the National Health Service. The present it most needs from politicians is for government and MPs across Parliament to show the vision and courage to work together to guarantee the NHS the funding and support it needs for the next 70 years and beyond.


Sarah Wollaston is Conservative MP for Totnes and chair of the Health Select Committee

The NHS70 Parliamentary Awards supported by IBM will be launching in the House of Commons on Wednesday 7 February. For further information, please email