Tales of courage, commitment and compassion are celebrated at The Evening Standard's NHS Champions awards 2005

The tireless heroes of the NHS were today, Tuesday 18th January 2005 commended at a ceremony at the Savoy hotel. Nominated by the general public – the Evening Standard's NHS Champions have been chosen in five categories; doctor, nurse & midwife, ambulance crew, therapist and support staff.

The Evening Standard's NHS Champions in association with The King's Fund, the independent health charity and ITV1's London Tonight launched these awards to salute the amazing contribution of health service workers from London and the South East.

Tammy Lee, winner in the nurse category is a community psychiatric nurse with North East London Mental Health. Tammy Lee was called to the flat of a patient suffering from paranoia and a personality disorder – and was held hostage for four hours. Despite being hit several times, she was able to befriend the patient and when the police arrived all was calm. Tammy went straight back to work the next day.

'Tammy has managed through her exemplary support, professionalism and dedication to rehabilitate a psychotic patient from his terrible illness back to his work,' said a colleague. She undertakes jobs over and above what is expected of her, for example by setting up and running groups (badminton and music). 'Her driving force is wanting the best possible quality of life for her clients,' said another.

Kevin Marshall, winner in the Ambulance Crew category is a paramedic with Friern Barnet Ambulance Station. He was nominated by Zach, an 11-year-old boy whose mother is a severe epileptic allergic to many drugs. Zach acts as his mother's carer, but because of his age found it hard to get ambulance crew to listen to him, Kevin transformed the situation by listening to the family and changing the system. Now 999 calls from the family home flag up the crucial information that his mother is allergic to anti-convulsive drugs and that Zach is her carer. Kevin also drew up a treatment protocol for Zach's mother, which she carries around with her at all, times, so if Zach is not around paramedics know what to do.

In Zach's own words 'In the past when she had a fit, ambulance crews would not listen to me because I am only 11. Kevin has made sure they do listen to me. Now when she is ill I can call for help safely and know that she will be all right.'

Thousands of nominations were received, and the winners were chosen by a special panel of judges consisting of Katie Derham, presenter of London Tonight; Christine Hancock, President of the International Council of Nurses; Professor Sir Ara Darzi, Government adviser on surgery; Veronica Wadley, Editor of the Evening Standard; Stuart Thomas, editor of London Tonight; Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of The King's Fund and Kwame Kwei-Armah, actor and playwright. Each winner receives a prize of £5,000, half for themselves and half to benefit their patients.

Veronica Wadley, Editor of the Evening Standard, said:

'Our NHS Champions awards honour the courage, hard work and sacrifice of people who rarely get celebrated, or even recognised within the vast machine of the National Health Service. We founded these awards two years ago to celebrate the day-in, day-out dedication of so many healthcare workers in the metropolis, the stars of the health service.'

Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of The King's Fund, said:

'The health service is rightly proud of its staff and these awards highlight some truly exceptional achievements. This year we have received over one thousand nominations - one thousand examples where patients and their relatives have recognised outstanding service that has made a real difference to people's lives. This is a great way to celebrate the unsung heroes of the NHS.'

Stuart Thomas, Editor of ITV1's London Tonight, said:

'Everyone at London Tonight is delighted to be involved in the 2005 NHS Champions, because we know just how vital the capital's health workers are. We were so moved by the incredible stories that were sent in, and it's great that these unsung heroes are finally getting recognised.'

The full list of winners and runners-up are:

Category - Doctor

Winner – Rob Carpenter, Consultant, Breast Care Unit, Barts

Rob Carpenter has been with Barts for over 13 years. He helped pioneer one-stop clinics where women with a lump in their breast could get a same-day diagnosis instead of waiting up to three nerve-wracking weeks. Many other areas of medicine have adopted this approach. His team was working in ageing conditions, so over the last four years he has been heavily involved in raising £13.5 million and developing a new Cancer Centre of Excellence. It opened last autumn and has already won a national award for the quality of its environment.

In the words of one nominator, 'He has worked so hard and tirelessly to achieve his goal of seeing the cancer centre of excellence come to fruition. After my diagnosis of breast cancer, his positive attitude gave me the glimmer of hope that I so needed.' Another nominator said, 'As I approach the 10 year marker, I truly believe I owe my life and future to this extraordinary man whose leadership has enabled Barts to become a beacon of excellence.'

Runners-up – Syed Masroor Ali, SMA Medical Centre, Leyton

Category - Support Staff

Winner – Dennis Renton, Porter, Barts

Dennis Renton has worked at Barts for nearly 40 years and has never taken a day off sick. Before portering he worked in the family business making costumes for the BBC. However healthcare has always been in his blood. 'Barts has always been good to me and my family – two of my children were born there – and on top of that I have found great satisfaction in helping people with health problems.'

He has helped the victims of many high-profile disasters including the Old Bailey car bomb in 1973, the Moorgate crash in 1975 and the City bombings. He also found himself in charge of the keys to the crown jewels after the Tower of London's assistant governor dropped dead in the street, Special Branch arrived swiftly to relieve him of them. Dennis is also ceremonial beadle for Barts. One patient who nominated him said, 'Dennis puts you at ease with a comforting word or a joke, making you feel cared for and the most important patient in the hospital.'

'He embodies the whole spirit of the NHS,' said another nominator. Over 37 years he has worked hard to improve the patient experience. He is always approachable and kind to the patients and thus a lynchpin of the NHS.

Runners-up – Steven Heather, Chief Respiratory support technician, Royal Brompton Hospital

Category – Therapist

Winner – Hilary Rattue, Paediatric physiotherapist, St George's Hospital, Tooting

Hilary has worked as a paediatric physiotherapist for the past 15 years. She heads a small team of paediatric physiotherapists, who accept referrals for any child under the age of 16 who may have a delay in their motor skills. Most of the children the team works with have neurodevelopmental issues, such as cerebral palsy, or have acquired some sort of injury or fracture that might impede their physical development. One parent said: 'Hilary is unique among health care professionals in her ability to see a child for what they are, and not what their condition is. She pushes every boundary and takes no nonsense from anyone, no matter what their position in the medical hierarchy. This must make her life harder but she puts the children first every time.'

Runners-up – Jane Burgess, Occupational therapist, Goodmayes Hospital, Essex

Category – Nurse

Winner – Tammy Lee, North East London Mental Health Trust

Runners-up – Emma Prescott, Specialist nurse, haemoglobinopathy, Whittington Hospital

Category Ambulance crew

Winner – Kevin Marshall, Friern Barnet Ambulance Station

Runners-up – Ian Stuart Maitland, St John's Wood Ambulance Station

Notes to editors: 

For further information please contact Sarah Kemp at Brown Lloyd James sarahk@blj.co.uk, tel 0207 591 9610 or mobile 07816 522555.