Golden Hearts celebrate NHS heroes


Published on 29 October 2021

Hospital heroes have been celebrated thanks to a new scheme launched by East Kent Hospitals.

The Golden Hearts give NHS staff a chance to recognise their colleagues across the Trust who make a real difference to their patients or colleagues.

They operate on a rolling basis throughout the year and hundreds of staff were nominated for the first tranche, with a total of eight stand-out nominations chosen to receive a Golden Hearts badge.

Chief executive Susan Acott said: “The Golden Hearts are a fantastic opportunity for us to celebrate colleagues who go the extra mile and who inspire others to be the best that they can be.

“They are a chance for us to say thank you to our staff for the fantastic work they do every single day, caring for our patients, and making sure everything runs smoothly behind the scenes.

“Now, more than ever, it’s important to share our appreciation to our incredible teams and it’s a privilege to be able to read the many nominations and hear about the amazing work that goes on across all our hospitals.”

The Golden Hearts recipients include teams and individuals who have had to transform the way they work because of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as people involved in the vaccination programme and working to support the clinical teams.

Golden Hearts recipients:

Senior heart failure nurse Sjouke Ashton-Clarkson works with the cardiology team at the William Harvey Hospital, managing patients at home.

Her team said: “Sjouke is an amazing team member, she is always willing to help if she can. She is extremely passionate about heart failure and is very knowledgeable; she is a great teacher and keen to help others learn.”

Her nomination praised her determination to make improvements in care, as well as her dedication to her patients. At the start of the pandemic, many members of her team were redeployed to help on the wards, and the virus has also led to an increased number of patients with heart failure.

The Health Records team, based at Inca House in Ashford, were rewarded for their work supporting the vaccination programme.

The Trust started vaccinating patients and staff in December 2020, and the team – who normally archive patient records in line with NHS guidelines – took on the challenge of phoning patients and staff to book their vaccine appointments.

Their nomination reveals they have supported almost 60,000 vaccinations, adding: “This is a fantastic effort by the team, led by Debbie Pettitt, Health Records Supervisor.

“We are extraordinarily proud of all their work and the positive and friendly approach they have shown to all those they have contacted.”

At the William Harvey Hospital, Dawn Hemsley was nominated by her colleagues on Kings C1 ward. She helps mentor junior staff, while also making sure patient care is a top priority.

Her nomination reveals that she finds time to sit with frail patients or those living with dementia, and always has their best interests at heart.

Her colleagues said: “The way she interacts with the patients on the ward is amazing, the way she can build up a rapport with them is great.

“Dawn has been absolutely fabulous throughout Covid, especially with the patients on end of life care. She has been there with them until they pass away, treating each individual patient with care, dignity and respect.

“I really admire her for her professionalism, care, sensitivity, empathy and just being an awesome nurse.”

The Spencer Wing Eye Clinic at the William Harvey Hospital are another team to receive a Golden Heart for their work keeping crucial clinics running during the pandemic.

Their nomination said: “This group of nurses and administration team were compassionate and caring towards the members of the public who were petrified to leave their houses during the pandemic. They kept a safe, effective and efficient service running, and slowly and surely the patients gained trust so they were able to receive their sight-saving treatment. They really made a difference to the patients who were at times suffering with their mental health.

“This incredible group of people worked tirelessly throughout ensuring a Gold standard service and always with a smile.”

Colorectal support worker Ben Williams started working at the QEQM at the start of the pandemic and immediately made a difference helping to assess patients.

His nomination said: “Patients have taken to contacting Ben as they feel listened to when he completes the Holistic Needs Assessments. He is a fabulous team player and has built up supporting networks for his colleagues within the office and his service.

“Thanks to Ben, the Trust is now second to Guy's Hospital for the total amount of Holistic Assessments that have been completed. He deserves recognition for all the hard work he has achieved in such a short amount of time.”

Fordwich ward at the QEQM also received a Golden Heart for their work during the pandemic. Staff used their own phones to help families speak to their loved ones, and worked extra shifts to support colleagues when they were short-staffed.

Their nomination said: “This whole team have worked relentlessly as the Covid respiratory ward throughout the pandemic, showing resilience, compassion, strength and making a difference to patients and their families through the most challenging of times.

“All patients received the highest standards of care despite the challenges. The support within the team, to each other, patients and their families was above and beyond with dignity, respect, compassion and commitment.”

The Acute Oncology Nursing Team at the QEQM were the final team to receive a Golden Heart, and were nominated for their work supporting cancer patients during the pandemic.

They kept relatives informed and helped to care for people at home, avoiding the need for them to come to hospital.

Their nomination said: “They are a compassionate team, good role models for the Trust and display the Trust’s vision and values to the highest standard.

“They facilitated early discharge and got patients home for Christmas for precious times and memories, demonstrating patient advocacy and empowerment at its best.”

IT support technician Dan Ireland was nominated by the clinical haematology and haemophilia team for his help during the pandemic and beyond.

Dan, who is based at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital, has become the ‘go-to’ person for IT support for the team, and helped them to set up virtual consultations so they could still see their patients remotely.

In his nomination, they said: “Dan understands the importance of the work that the clinicians do and goes above and beyond to help support them in delivering a safe service.

“When the pandemic hit, Dan was the first person to quickly advise and guide the clinicians in setting up virtual consultations and ensuring that they had the right equipment to get going.

“Even when one of our consultant haematologists became unwell and needed to work from home, she contacted Dan who understood the urgency and implications and, on the day, she was sorted and able to continue to deliver her service from home. All of this could not have happened without his amazing support.”