UNISON member wins top health heroes award

Pauline Symington is a neonatal ward assistant at Ulster Hospital and won the popular vote after being nominated by her colleagues

Pauline Symington, a service assistant at Ulster Hospital, took the public vote by storm to win national operational services support worker of the year at the prestigious Our Health Heroes awards yesterday.

More than 200 guests, including NHS England’s chief people officer Prerana Issar, gathered for the fourth annual Our Health Heroes awards at the Science Museum in London.

Organised by Skills for Health and headline sponsor Health Education England, the national awards celebrate unsung healthcare heroes from across the UK. They were hosted by GP and TV presenter Dr Dawn Harper and included a performance by former doctor-turned-award-winning-writer Adam Kay.

UNISON member Pauline (pictured above in the orange) is a neonatal ward service assistant at Ulster Hospital in Northern Ireland and won the UNISON-sponsored operational services support worker of the year award, as one of only eight national winners at this year’s ceremony.

A valued member of the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust since 2003, she works closely with the ward manager and wider team, and is responsible for hygiene within the neonatal ward and its high-dependency neonatal intensive care unit.

Colleagues singled out Pauline’s ability to connect with the parents of patients on the ward, who are often stressed and worried, adding that she had been instrumental in the refurbishment of the neonatal parents’ room.

Pauline said: “It was an absolute honour to have been recognised by a professional and dedicated team – let alone to have won!

“The Ulster Hospital is very privileged to have such an amazing neonatal team and it is my honour to work with them and the families we care for.”

Pauline fought off competition from 11 other regional finalists from across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales in the public vote to decide the national winner.

UNISON head of health Sara Gorton said: “It’s vital that we honour the dedication and tireless support that every member of the healthcare team provides.

“UNISON is proud to be part of the Our Health Heroes Award again as sponsors of the apprentice of the year and operational services support worker categories.”

Skills for Health chief executive John Rogers said: “Congratulations to Pauline on being named national winner of the operational services support worker of the year award.

“Having read through the nomination that was submitted for Pauline, and hearing more about her compassion and empathy for the parents of patients, I can see why the public voted overwhelmingly for her to be our national champion.

“She is obviously a fantastic asset not only to the neonatal unit, whose staff would be ‘lost without her’, but also to Ulster Hospital and her trust.”

Find out more about all eight Our Health Heroes 2019 winners.