The exceptional work and dedication of staff has been recognised at this year’s Royal Free Hospital (RFH) Oscars awards.055 24_119_RFL Oscars 12.06.24.jpg

The second in the series of the Royal Free London (RFL) site Oscars celebrated NHS staff from across the Royal Free Hospital and volunteers who have gone above and beyond the call of duty – for their hard work, commitment and unwavering efforts.

Last night's event was hosted by Steve Spoerry, RFH interim chief executive, who was joined by Dr Jenny Cross – medical director, Rebecca Longmate – director of nursing, Rachel Anticoni – director of operations, Sharron Grant – director of HR & OD at the Royal Free Charity, Tim Callaghan — director of financial performance and deputy chief finance officer and Natalie Ware – assistant director of people to present the awards. 

Competition was tough across the 14 award categories, including clinical team of the year, non-clinical team of the year, Chairman’s leadership award, celebrating diversity award and new for 2024, the Royal Free Charity supporter of the year.

Thank you to the Royal Free Charity who generously funded the awards. 

Steve Spoerry congratulated all the nominees, runners up and winners. He said: "This is my first Oscars, and I am thrilled to be able to take the time to celebrate your outstanding achievements. 

"I’ve been inspired by all the stories of how you are making a difference to our patients and each other, which just goes to show what a fantastic team we have here at the Royal Free Hospital. What was clear from all the nominations is how dedicated you are at making this a great place to work and a great place for our patients to receive their care. I’m proud to be able to recognise that commitment today."

There were 890 Oscars nominations from across the trust, of which 357 were for staff and teams working at the RFH.

Well done to all the nominees, runners up and winners:

Chairman’s leadership award

Winner: Kim Stoddard, senior operations manager, breast screening

Runners up: Azam Davar, ward manager 7 West and Dr Brian Hogan, lead clinician for liver critical care and consultant in intensive care medicine and hepatology

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Kim is described as "the ‘swan’ of the service, paddling away behind the scenes but maintaining a calm front which puts everyone else at ease. She’s a down-to-earth leader who engages with all staff and takes on board their feedback".

Her achievements include implementing nearly 100% paper free processes, better telephony so calls are answered promptly, and creating a positive working environment so staff feel included and valued.


Outstanding contribution to research award

Winner: Prof Marianna Fontana, professor of cardiology

Runner up: Richard Leigh, consultant podiatrist

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An expert in her field with an international reputation, Prof Marianna Fontana has made critical and novel contributions to the diagnosis, evaluation and management of cardiac amyloidosis, a rare disease caused by abnormal protein in the heart tissue which makes it hard for the heart to work properly.

Her research has been rapidly adopted by clinicians throughout the world and is improving patient care and outcomes. She has advanced the diagnosis of cardiac amyloidosis, through the establishment of cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) as a diagnostic tool for this condition. CMR has now been incorporated into international guidelines.


Clinical team of the year

Winner: Endoscopy unit

Runners up: 7 East, 8 North team, Barnet chest pain nurses and discharge lounge

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The endoscopy unit team has had a positive impact on patients and colleagues, achieving a high score of 93% in the friends and family test feedback, pioneering new training techniques and supporting the career progression of health care workers to become registered nurses. More than three quarters of staff said they would recommend this service as a place to work in the what matters to you survey.

Most significantly, they have made dramatic improvements in the diagnostic performance of the department through their excellent teamwork, achieving 91% compliance in March.


Outstanding contribution to patient safety award

Winner: Health services for elderly people (HSEP) multi-disciplinary team

Runners up: Juanita Nittla, senior sister, critical care and 10 South A

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The health services for elderly people (HSEP) multi-disciplinary team's ongoing campaign to encourage elderly inpatients to move more during their hospital stay is already starting to show impressive results. More than half the number of patients are now getting out of bed at lunchtime and there has been a reduction in falls and pressure ulcers – two of the main challenges when caring for elderly people. This has also had a knock-on effect on length of stay and is therefore helping to improve the flow of patients through our hospital.

Colleagues said this team works "with some of the frailest, sickest and most complex patients and they do so with kindness and compassion and strive to provide high quality, safe care".


Royal Free Charity Supporter of the Year

Winner: Prof Julian Gillmore, professor of medicine and head of National Amyloidosis Centre

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This award recognises Prof Julian Gillmore's long-term and consistent commitment to the charity. His energy is second to none, working tirelessly to engage with supporters and the local community to raise funds and the profile of the charity.

He is a champion of the National Amyloidosis Centre and gives up his time freely to give tours to our donors so they can see first-hand the impact of their donations on the centre.

The charity's donors praise him for his kindness, commitment, and expertise and through his professional role he continues to inspire patients to support the charity as a way of thanking the centre for their care.


Volunteer of the year

Winner: Jennifer Lawrence

Runners up: Volunteers for Royal Free Children’s Hospital School, ward support volunteers, infant feeding support volunteers, volunteer quiz group

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Jennifer has been volunteering twice a week for the past six years at the Neurological Rehabilitation Centre, investing her time to help patients regain their independence. She supports group activities and chats with patients to brighten up their day. 

An integral part of the team, she is calm and professional, always smiling and is committed and willing to do whatever will help the service.


Non-clinical team of the year

Winner: Ophthalmology admin team

Runners up: Dermatology clinical pathway managers and assistant service managers; and international/embassies team (private patients unit)

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The ophthalmology admin team oversees more than 80,000 outpatients a year and more than 4,500 day case and inpatients a year. They work tirelessly to ensure the service runs smoothly and are always respectful and helpful even in stressful situations.

In the past year they have helped facilitate the smooth transition of Whittington ophthalmology theatre to the new Edgware surgical hub, ensuring patients are kept informed, their records are in order and the increased theatre capacity is filled. They actively make improvements to DNA rates, support PIFU pathways, manage and flag capacity issues and reduce patient complaints.


Living our values

Winner: Naveen Fernandes, staff nurse 7 East

Runner up: Neurological Rehabilitation Centre 

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Naveen is described as 'someone who jumps at the opportunity to help others without question, not for rewards or accolades but because it is the right thing to do. A role model who makes an outstanding difference. A 'true nursing hero'.

He goes the extra mile for each and every patient, whether that’s holding their hand during a procedure, or listening to their fears and concerns, taking the time until they are comfortable and reassured, he empowers every patient in his care.

Naveen is a truly inspirational nurse, not only for our patients but for all the health care professionals across the entire team.  His passion and dedication to providing the best patient-centred care has improved the care we deliver.


Quality improvement and efficiency

Winner: Chronic kidney disease team

Runners up: Breast screening team, Dr Efthimia Karra, clinical service for acute medicine, and emergency department transformation team

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Patients are receiving the very best care regardless of where they live thanks to the chronic kidney disease team. They have extended the current community service from three to all five north central London boroughs improving detection, support, and outcomes for patients with chronic kidney disease. This has been achieved by creating a single, standardised referral point and digitising the process for speed of access to patient information for primary and secondary care teams. There is now a rapid turnaround of referrals, reduced waiting times for patients, and effective triage so patients can receive their care in the most appropriate place, whether that is closer to home in the community or at hospital.


Clinician of the year

Winner: Sally Hamour, clinical divisional director and renal consultant

Runners up: Howell Jones, consultant elderly medicine; Dr Carol J Whelan, consultant cardiologist and clinical lead for heart failure; Swapna Mandal, consultant in thoracic medicine; Hanna Beecham–Timmington, clinical lead pelvic health and Jason White, occupational therapist

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Emma Calnan (pictured above) collected the award on behalf of Sally

Sally is described as having 'amazing clinical expertise and cares so much for her patients, often providing exceptional and empathetic support to them and their families and friends through the generations'. She empowers the nursing team and champions her junior doctors’ wellbeing and education, demonstrating strong leadership qualities to effectively guide and mentor her team.

Her colleagues said: “Sally's clinical expertise in renal medicine is unparalleled, and her ability to provide compassionate care while maintaining the highest standards of clinical excellence is truly remarkable.”


Non-clinical employee of the year

Winner: Taran Mandair, ward administrator 11 South

Runners up: Emma Calnan, senior operations manager, nephrology, urology, renal transplant and Kyle Harding, assistant operations manager, clinical site team

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Taran is described as having "an innate curiosity for his role and knows instinctively how to make things better for the team and patients. He undertakes new tasks that he knows will make the day more efficient and easier for everyone around him and does so with great enthusiasm and pride. His journey from a Project Choice intern to a permanent ward administrator for the infectious diseases team exemplifies his dedication to his work and remarkable professional and personal growth"

His colleagues also said: “He has had a profound impact on his colleagues and patients. He has merged into the team so well that it is very difficult to imagine the ward without him. He is an advocate for young people with disabilities and his ongoing contributions to creating a welcoming and supportive workplace environment make him an outstanding candidate for this award.”


Outstanding contribution to education award

Winner: Theatre and ICU CPE team

Runners up: Breast screening mammographers team and Sarah Hillyard–Hayes, discharge co-ordinator

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This team delivers university accredited and in house courses, prioritising professional growth and development for their 300 colleagues through well-structured learning programmes, workshops, and mentorship. There has been a successful uptake of staff taking these courses, enabling the workforce to be resilient and multi skilled in different areas of their service resulting in better patient outcomes. The recruitment and retention of staff in their area has improved over the last year and this is mainly due to their passion and commitment to education.

The team actively collaborates with external organisations to share expertise and best practices. Their participation at educational events has not only increased our trust's profile, but also impacted the wider critical care community.


Shining star award

Winner: Donna O’Sullivan, Macmillan hepatocellular cancer nurse specialist

Runners up: Karen Turner, head of improvement and Dr Eleanor Hamlyn, consultant in HIV medicine and guardian of safe working

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Donna delivers holistic care to patients at the most difficult time in their lives and does so with sincerity and compassion. She has been patients’ first port of call for several years and is a source of continuity for them throughout their treatment journey. Outstanding in her role, she has developed new protocols and pathways to improve the patient experience, established nurse-led clinics and developed a national and international profile in education sharing her expertise with other nurses and trainee doctors.

The feedback she receives from patients and staff is universally positive. When one of her patients with advanced cancer became homeless and could not receive treatment safely because of this, she worked tirelessly with other hospital teams and social services to remedy this.

Described as ‘one of the best colleagues’ to work with and ‘a true asset’ to the team, Donna is without a doubt an amazing ‘ambassador’ for the Royal Free Hospital.


Celebrating diversity award

Winner: Sucad Yousef, deputy head of clinical site operations

Runners up: Alisha Ali, deputy director of nursing and Audrey Higgins, PA to the deputy directors

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Sucad actively promotes equality and diversity, most notably organising this year’s Black History Month event, booking speakers, stall holders and sharing posters.

Sucad comes up with new ideas about how we can celebrate our diverse organisation and has been described by colleagues as a "great example of someone who lives the trust values".

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