NHS Health and Care Leaders Call for National Recognition of Sector’s Support Staff as Our Health Heroes Awards Nominations Open

Nominations are underway for the sixth consecutive “Our Health Heroes Awards”, at a time when it has never been more crucial to shine a light on the hundreds and thousands of staff who form the backbone of the sector.

First launched by Skills for Health in 2016, as the nation’s only charitable Awards scheme dedicated to championing the oft-unsung work of health and care support staff, Our Health Heroes is back, sponsored by long-standing partners NHS Employers, UNISON and Bevan Brittan.

“Year after year, these Awards highlight the thousands of individuals and teams, from all walks of life, all kinds of experiences and all four corners of the UK, who work tirelessly day-after-day ‘behind the scenes’ to keep our NHS, health and care services running smoothly”, said John Rogers, chief executive of Skills for Health. “Without these people, the system simply couldn’t survive – none more so than throughout the pandemic.”

Set to welcome record nominations after the unparalleled challenges of the last year, tributes will be paid to those NHS health and care staff working in critical supporting roles, whose valuable contribution continues to have a significant impact on the provision of competent, collaborative and compassionate patient care.

“The NHS simply cannot function without its entire team. The dedication, expertise and strength of all NHS employees must never be taken for granted. Cleaners, receptionists, porters, security staff and all the others in the NHS family keep the public safe and cared for when they need support the most”, said Sara Gorton, head of health at UNISON.

“The huge effort made by staff in the face of adversity through the pandemic needs to be recognised and the Our Health Heroes Awards rightly focus on this crucial work, celebrating their diversity, individuality and enormous contribution to society.”

Staff working in the NHS, social care and independent health and care organisations are encouraged to say ‘thank you’ to colleagues by making a nomination across eleven diverse award categories, with members of the public encouraged to get involved too.

“These Awards are a great way for staff and the public alike to ensure we recognise all the amazing people who work across the health service and who go above and beyond every day for our patients”, said Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, part of the NHS Confederation.

“NHS Employers is proud once again to have the opportunity to sponsor the Outstanding Lifetime Contribution award, celebrating our truly incredible people whose utter dedication deserves national recognition. Across the country healthcare staff are working incredibly hard to help recovery in the aftermath of COVID-19 and to provide the best care for patients, and we look forward to celebrating their efforts.”

New awards this year reflect the incredible innovation mobilised throughout the sector in the last twelve months, with a category recognising emergency services collaboration and another acknowledging the remarkable scale of national support enabled through UK charities.

“We believe every key health and care worker, no matter their status, is deserving of admiration and recognition, especially those in supporting roles who we might not initially think of when faced with a national crisis”, adds John Rogers. “Our Health Heroes is just one small way we can ensure that our support for the entire workforce is unwavering, and together with our sponsors, we can help everyone gets the recognition they deserve.”

This year’s awards will culminate in a prestigious ceremony in 2022, once again returning to the London Science Museum on March 24, where winners and nominees will be recognised for their incredible achievements in front of an audience of the nation’s NHS, health and care leaders.

The closing date for nominations is October 14 2021, and anyone can make a nomination by visiting the Skills for Health website at

Entries will be shortlisted and judged by an expert panel, before finalists are announced in January 2022 for a public vote which decides the winners for individual categories.


  1. Inspirational Clinical Support Worker of the Year
  2. Exceptional NHS Operational Support Worker of the Year – sponsored by UNISON
  3. Breakthrough Apprentice of the Year – sponsored by UNISON
  4. Most progressive Integrated Care Workforce Programme
  5. Most promising OD & People Programme
  6. Dedication to a lifelong learning culture
  7. NHS improvement through digital innovation
  8. Outstanding lifetime contribution to healthcare – sponsored by NHS Employers
  9. Best healthcare initiative in a community or criminal justice setting *NEW
  10. Best emergency services collaboration *NEW
  11. Most inspired health and care support by a UK Charity *NEW