Meet our group RFL Oscar winners

5 July 2023

The group RFL Oscars event took place at the Royal College of Physicians yesterday evening (4 July) with staff across 13 categories being recognised for their stellar work over the past year.

The event was hosted by Mark Lam, chair of the Royal Free London, and Deborah Sanders, chief executive of BH who stood in for interim chief executive Peter Landstrom. They were also joined by Judy Dewinter and Jon Spiers, chair and chief executive of the Royal Free Charity respectively, which generously supported the event. 

To kick off the celebrations, Mark reflected on the last year and achievements of colleagues in the room:

“Where would we be without all of you in room this evening and all of your colleagues across our hospitals, sites and services? Despite our challenges, our amazing staff provide outstanding care to our patients and live out our trust values, visibly reassuring, clearly communicating, actively respectful and positively welcoming.

“It is thanks to you, your hard work and dedication that I think our trust is the best place to work in the NHS. You should all feel so proud of yourselves.”

With the event taking place on the eve of NHS75 celebrations, a number of colleagues who were born in the year the NHS was founded, and volunteers over the age of 75, were invited.

“These colleagues have seen the service develop and change throughout the years, whilst contributing their service in a variety of roles that make up the NHS family - such as consultants, outpatients administration and reception, pharmacy, radiology, catering and chaplaincy,” Mark said.

“We feel honoured to have them here tonight as we head into the anniversary celebrations.”

Deborah also paid tribute to the Royal Free Charity for supporting the awards.

"I am delighted that we can all come together tonight to celebrate and congratulate you on your excellent work. I witness on a daily basis the extraordinary dedication and kindness of our staff who help provide world-leading care, participate in amazing research and education, and deliver positive outcomes for our patients."

“I would like to say a huge ‘thank you’ to the charity for their unwavering support – it is partnership we value enormously. The Royal Free Charity raises an incredible amount of money to support the health and wellbeing of our staff, the vital work that we carry out across our sites and services and enriching the lives of our patients.

Judy Dewinter, chair of the Royal Free Charity, said:

“As your NHS charity partner, at the charity we are proud to play our part in making sure you are being recognised for what you do and the difference you make to your patients, your colleagues and the communities we serve.”

Bradley Walsh, presenter of The Chase on ITV, was the special guest on the night. Addressing the crowd after the awards ceremony, he spoke candidly about his mother who was a psychiatric nurse.

“The Royal Free Charity is a magnificent organisation that supports all the hospitals in the Royal Free London. We had some laughs and I really enjoyed being a part of the Oscars.

“It is brilliant what the Royal Free do, congratulations to you all,” he finished.

Continue reading below to see the incredible stories of RFL colleagues.


Group clinician of the year – Sarah Edwards, lead nurse for the Ian Charleson Day Centre

Sarah works as both a manager and clinician and is said to ‘excel’ in both positions by those who nominated her. She embraces diversity within the PITU team and attends to queries in a timely and fair manner with monthly meetings. Gillian Smith, interim chief medical officer, presented the award and said: “Sarah goes the extra mile to ensure patients experience the best clinical care, while always living the trust values and ensuring the whole team do the same daily. She also provides excellent level of care when on the floor either at ICDC - HIV clinic, PITU and covering 11 South when required, which reflects how clinically competent she is by adapting to different environments so easily.”


Group outstanding contribution to education award - Education team for anaesthetics, theatres and critical care, Royal Free Hospital

The education team for anaesthetics, theatre and critical care has been working tirelessly to ensure that there is a robust education offering in their department across the trust. There is a now a suite of internally delivered academically accredited programmes that meet national qualification in speciality standards. “These programmes have ensured that the division has a registered nursing workforce that have the right skills, attitudes and behaviours to look after our patients, and such an offering requires a team of educators across the group that are experts in their field and in education delivery. This work has also been recognised across the system with the education team leading the training and upskilling, education and career pathways for anaesthetics and critical care nurses London-wide”, said Gillian who presented the award.


Clinical team of the year -  the rapid emergency and acute care therapy team (REACTT)

Presenting the award, Gillian said: “REACTT continuously seeks to improve and adapt its service to ensure high quality patient care and experience and to support the increasing demand on our emergency department. The team operate well together to ensure clinical priorities are met but also to enable service developments and QI projects to be achieved.”

Over the past year, the team has embedded several initiatives to improve patient experience and hospital flow through the emergency department. An example is a current QI project to improve the care provision and experience of patients living with frailty who are admitted to our adult assessment unit. This project has sought input from the wider multidisciplinary team and with the support of charity funding will improve the ward environment and processes to ensure the needs of those with frailty are met.


Group non-clinical team of the year - RFLPS catering

"RFLPS catering is an exemplar in their field, having introduced many innovations which ultimately have a positive impact on patients’ experiences in hospital," said Alan McGlennan, chief executive of Chase Farm Hospital and group clinical services, as he announced the winning team. This year they introduced a new electronic ordering system and care of the elderly and dementia areas were provided with coloured dishes and cutlery to improve patient nutrition. Snack menus have been improved to provide a full range to meet the nutritional needs of our patients and every menu is continuously reviewed with an eye to improvement. A ‘Food for Life’ soil association award for sustainable practices, and opening for extra hours through Eid so Muslim staff could have a hot meal after sundown, are also prime examples of the work of this team.


Group non-clinical employee of the year - Janet McGrath, ward clerk, Barnet Hospital

“Janet is extremely hard working and always goes above and beyond in the delivery of her work, making a difference not only to the experience of staff but also to patients and visitors,” Ravi Baghirathan, chief transformation officer, said about Janet. “She takes care of families and visitors in an utterly professional and caring manner and provides them with all the support and information they need to help them navigate what is often a traumatic and confusing experience.” 

Janet’s colleague who nominated her said: “She is not only an employee behind a desk but a friendly face who goes beyond her role to build relationships with patients and their families. She is the glue that holds our multi-professional team together, a one woman support system, a fountain of useful information and knowledge and a source of warmth, comfort and encouragement in a constantly challenging working environment.”


Group shining star award - Jennifer Walters, pre-operative assessment senior sister, Chase Farm Hospital

Jennifer manages the preassessment department at CFH, helping with clinical and logistical queries and being a source of wise advice, ultimately helping patients have a better service at pre-operative assessment. Earlier this year, she managed the location move of CFH POA, and ensured that the required facilities and IT systems are available to deliver efficient patient care. She will always endeavour to find a solution and support a person and team. Presenting the award, Emma Kearney, group chief communications officer, said: “She is kind to all, compassionate amongst members of the team, treats everyone with respect and tries to encourage us daily. She is not afraid of challenges and deals with them very calmly with a smile on her face.”


Group outstanding contribution to patient safety - The patient safety dashboard team, Barnet Hospital

The patient safety dashboard team were recognised for their vision, initiation and subsequent implementation of the patient safety dashboard, first as a pilot at Barnet Hospital, then spread across the wards and finally across the group. The patient safety dashboard provides a visible, live approach to ensure that key patient quality metrics are being seen, checked and monitored for the safety of all patients. Its visibility has a ward to board electronic approach which is a key feature of the initiative. Senior nursing staff can ensure and monitor compliance at a glance. “The implementation of the dashboard has and will continue to reduce the risks of patients key metrics not being carried out in a timely manner,” Julie Hamilton, group chief nurse, said when presenting the award.


Group outstanding contribution to research - The Ian Charleson Day Centre clinical team, Royal Free Hospital

The ICDC clinical team has showcased clinical integration of research within their department which has led to clinical nurses and phlebotomists receiving training to enable them to work on clinical trials. This has ensured that research is embedded into care delivery in line with the mission of the trust. One of the nurse practitioners reports that his practice has been enhanced both clinically and in a research capacity, which has enriched how patient care is delivered. Staff are also more confident in discussing research with patients and explaining its importance. 

Successful delivery of vaccine research during the pandemic is because of collaboration between the wider clinical team and research, which provided great flexibility whilst additional research resource was promptly identified. John Connolly, chief executive of RFH, presented the award, stating: “The ease of bringing clinical teams from the HIV department to work on research was a result of the embedded research culture, implemented by research and clinical leads with the support of Sarah Edwards and clinical lead nurses.”


Group quality improvement and efficiency award - Improving postnatal caesarean section care – QI project team at Barnet Hospital

This project team was nominated for the excellent impact they’ve had on patient experience, the long-term commitment of their team and coach as well as their exemplary patient involvement. The project started when the Maternity Voices Partnership shared that they were hearing many reports of occasions where the postnatal experience for c-section mothers could have been better. 

The team held listening events and gathered ideas from mothers and staff to improve postnatal experience on two wards with excellent results. One patient wrote ‘thank you so much for looking after us so well! You are all heroes!’.

“This project has really demonstrated the power of teamwork, commitment and patient involvement, and the ability to significantly improve patient experience,” said Vicky Clarke, chief finance officer, when presenting the award.


Group celebrating diversity award - BAME staff network

The BAME staff network has done stellar work this past year in ensuring equality and diversity. This year alone they have introduced BRAP training, which was the first of its kind, and this has been widely regarded as a positive step in the right direction to challenging racism in our trust. "The training aims to contribute to a culture change and a healthier and fairer workplace for staff, improve staff retention and impact positively on patients’ care," Crystal Akass, group chief people officer, said. "Other initiatives include the white allies programme, anti-racist training and reverse mentoring, which have all been instrumental in helping us achieve our equality goals."


Group volunteer of the year - Barnet Hospital patient experience champion volunteers

When presenting the award, Jon Spiers said: “These volunteers have enriched our understanding of how patients experience our services. We recognise that people who compliment or raise concerns about the care they receive are typically motivated by a particularly positive or negative experience. Our volunteers conduct peer-to-peer patient conversations across our services, to ensure that not only do we hear a balanced view of feedback, but also that through our peer-led conversations process, our staff can be responsive to any issues as they arise.”

He added: “Our volunteers are friendly and caring and we cannot underestimate their contribution to improving patient experience across Barnet Hospital. A special mention should also go to Olivia Coleman, patient experience and involvement officer, who supervises these volunteers and ensures they are supported.”


Group living our values - Ioana Chindris, domestic assistant, corporate services

Ioana works in the domestic team on the lower ground floor ED, Louise Ryan unit, children’s physiotherapy and occupational therapy at the Royal Free Hospital, ensuring that the areas are always clean. "The nomination says she comes to work every day 'with a smile on her face', completes tasks to an excellent standard and engages with staff and service users with great respect and kindness," Jon said. "She goes beyond her job description, checking in with people and helping with directions when needed. She does so much more than what is required, bringing 'sunshine' to the areas of the hospital that she works in."


Group chairman’s leadership award - Mohammad Noor, head of nursing, Royal Free Hospital


Mohammad provides leadership to two of the largest and most complex divisions in the whole trust. He has led the transformation and expansion of ICU from a 33-bed unit to 50 beds with a dedicated liver ICU and specialist post operative care for complex surgery. He has played a pivotal role in the success of liver services in post pandemic recovery, and his leadership contributions are highlighted by the transformation of culture and engagement of colleagues across both the divisions he leads. Mark Lam, presenting the award, said: “His leadership impact is particularly notable for reaching beyond professional and divisional boundaries and extends to system leadership for critical care. He has developed and mentored others in leadership positions within his divisions and is always an excellent role model.”