NHS “heroes” revealed in BAME HCAs next set of winners

The National BAME Health & Care Awards 2021 announces its second set of winners

The National BAME Health & Care Awards 2021 has entered its second week of celebrations, where DiversityQ’s Editor and host of the awards, Cheryl Cole announced the winners of the next five categories who deserve the title NHS “heroes” for their frontline work during the pandemic.

NHS “heroes” – congratulating BAME healthcare workers

BAME HCA founder Wendy Olayiwola said the pandemic had created a sense of fear and loss in the BAME community, but it had also produced “heroes” among their frontline healthcare and social care workers.

As well as extending her “sincere condolences” to those that had lost their lives due to the virus, she praised the large numbers of BAME healthcare workers that sacrificed their personal safety in their duty of care. She also thanked the judges for their “valuable contributions.”

Olayiwola left the nominees with a parting motivational message: “You will beat the virus, the fatigue, and discouragement because the strength is within you.”


The ceremony moved on to the awards, where Cole announced the five categories.

1. Clinical Champion of the Year

Cole said: “This was a very difficult decision as the candidates were outstanding in their dedication to their patients, commitment to the service they lead, and inspirational in their determination to improve, innovate and enhance care despite the unprecedented challenges presented by the pandemic. It was impossible to pick just one winner, and the exceptional work of all the nominees deserve to be recognised.”

The winners were Hala KandilWest Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust
and Rama Vancheeswaran West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust

Kandil said she was “lost for words”, she also said the awards highlighted the “crucial” role BAME staff play in healthcare and in “their wider community.”

Vancheeswaran agreed that the awards were very important as “BAME staff had suffered a lot and contributed a lot to the NHS.” She referenced a colleague of Filipino origin who was known for their positivity and helpfulness but had caught COVID-19 while working on the frontline, and she said that it’s for these reasons the awards should be “honoured and treasured.”

2. Community Initiative of the Year

Cole announced the category’s highly commended nominee first, which was Mark JohnsNorth East Ambulance Service.

Of the winner, Cole said: “Their response to the tragedy of the disproportionate impact of the pandemic has been truly inspirational and uplifting. A largely unrecognised group of internationally recruited nurses now have greater agency, voice, influence, and support as a direct impact of the Association’s work. Through the Association, they are contributing to a number of national strategies which have the potential to benefit all BAME nurses and are looking to the future with fresh hope and a collaborative vision.”

The winner was The Filipino Nurses Association UK.

Susie Lagrata, the National Secretary of The Filipino Nurses Association UK, accepted the award on behalf of the organisation and noted how BAME healthcare professionals “like us” have been “disproportionately affected” by COVID-19 and “this holds true for Filipino nurses.” She went on to say that the organisation, founded in the middle of the pandemic last year, was created to give this community access to networking and support.

3. Digital Champion of the Year

The highly commended nominee was Titi Adedeji– United Hospitals Bristol and Weston.

Cole said: “The judges thought they were a clear and outstanding winner for the work that they have been doing and is a visionary in this field. The winner was instrumental in leading the implementation of virtual visiting technology, which provides 1:1 video calls for patients in the hospital. Therefore the benefits of this technology go far beyond the COVID pandemic as it removes barriers and gives the ability to have visitors at the touch of a button.

The winner was Anna Awoliyi– Kettering General Hospital.

Awoliyi said the award is so important as it will impact not only on her but the staff she works with at Kettering General Hospital and particularly the BAME network. She talked about the positive impact of “virtual visiting”, where patients can connect with loved ones without them physically visiting the hospital, where “these improvements” Awoliyi and her team are making to the NHS are “having an impact.”

4. Emergency and Critical Care Healthcare Professional of the Year

The highly commended nominee was Ruksana Khanom Miah – Hillingdon Hospital.

Cole said: “Now this winner is absolutely committed to improving patient care, reducing inequities in care of patients, and enhancing the patient experience in ambulatory medicine by being fully involved in all aspects of service design and re-design that deliver safe and effective care.”

The winner was Akin Falayajo – Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust.

Falayajo commended “the commitment of colleagues to finding a way through challenging situations” and “the resolve to provide high-quality patient-centred services despite the odds” where “the coronavirus pandemic exemplifies this well.”

5. Ground Breaking Researcher of the Year

The highly commended nominee was Surash Surash – Royal Victoria Infirmary – Newcastle Hospitals.

Cole said the winner was “shocked by the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the BAME community and understanding the importance of research in beating COVID-19, and knowing that BAME communities are underrepresented in research studies generally, took it upon himself to join the regional Clinical Research Network (CRN) BAME COVID-19 group to improve the engagement with BAME communities and enable more BAME representation in COVID-19 research.”

The winner was Louis Palmer – Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust.

Palmer thanked the BAME COVID-19 Project Group “for their continued support with my work” who “have helped give me a platform to try and encourage research participation for BAME groups.”

The third set of winners for this year’s awards will be announced on April 29th at 5pm.


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