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The award for Team of the Year means so much to us at UNISON

As the biggest team across the NHS and social care in the UK; the award for Team of the Year means so much to us at UNISON.

The union is proud to represent nurses, midwives, healthcare assistants, paramedics, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, domestics, porters, cleaners and everyone else who plays a vital role. The excellence of the NHS is built on teamwork; and it’s stronger working together as one team.

UNISON is there for all the teams across the NHS and care sector. Branches lead campaigns for safe-staffing levels for nurses and midwives; groups of UNISON healthcare assistants across England are pushing – and striking – for recognition and fair pay; and the work and negotiation continue nationally to put NHS pay right.

The past year has been challenging once again for health and care staff. There’s been an unprecedented wave of industrial action in the drive for a fair pay rise during a cost of living crisis. Demand for health and care has also grown massively as the NHS continues to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

In these circumstances, supporting colleagues and teams to deliver essential services is worthy of huge praise. But each year the creative, inspirational work done by the dozens of teams vying to be crowned Team of the Year never fails to amaze.

Last year the prize was awarded to the Recovery Riders at Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust. There, staff at Ormskirk Hospital worked with UNISON and community organisations to provide bikes and equipment enabling mental health service users to participate in cycle rides though the countryside. This was a tremendous example of teams working together, listening to people’s needs and delivering something special.

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Previously the award was held by St Gemma’s Hospice in Leeds, where a team showed incredible determination to deliver palliative care to homeless people in the city. Another winner has been MSI Reproductive Choices UK (pictured above) who performed an amazing feat of keeping up outreach work to support women with family planning services during the pandemic.

Reflecting on these incredible teams, it’s clear they show the same values that hold the wider NHS together. Compassion, collaboration, imagination and ultimately a passionate determination to ensure patients and communities get the best care.

More than ever, these are values to be cherished and celebrated. This year’s winning team will embody them in their work and be worthy winners. Congratulations to all those shortlisted.

Stuart Tuckwood is national officer for nursing, UNISON

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