The 2024 One Team Award winners

UNISON’s One Team Awards honour the work of NHS support staff. This year’s winners – a payroll officer, a hospital domestic and a chef – share what the recognition means to them

One Team Awards

Without porters who move patients, cleaners who keep wards safe, catering staff who offer nutritious meals and the admin workers who keep everyone organised, the NHS simply couldn’t function.

UNISON’s One Team Awards, launched for the first time in 2023, honour the work of these non-clinical and operational services support staff. The awards, which are part of UNISON’s One Team campaign, give members a chance to nominate colleagues who deserve recognition for their contribution to the NHS team – and put them in the running to win £500 in prize vouchers.

After receiving almost 800 nominations, a UNISON panel selected three winners for their outstanding work in the health service.

One of those winners is Julie McKee (pictured, left), who has spent her life working in public services. For the last ten years, she’s worked in the payroll department of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, which manages a range of health services and hospitals.

Julie McKee (left) with Frances Pollock, Scottish Convenor at NHS Glasgow, Clyde & CVS branch

Julie McKee (left) with Frances Pollock, Scottish Convenor at NHS Glasgow, Clyde & CVS branch

“I enjoy working with numbers,” she says, “there’s a lot of problem-solving involved in doing payroll, but I find it rewarding. After all, without us, nobody gets paid.”

Julie was nominated for the award by her colleague and friend of 18 years, Frances (pictured above, right). Frances described Julie as someone who “keeps team morale high and keeps everyone going, even on bad days.”

Julie attributes this to her time spent as a UNISON steward in her previous job: “Being a rep taught me how to include people and make them feel at ease. I like making people feel good about themselves, especially if they’re feeling a bit down and lonely.”

However, although she loves her job and her co-workers, Julie admits she often feels unappreciated. “Frontline staff quite rightly get recognition for what they do, but if it wasn’t for those of us in the back room doing all the admin, they wouldn’t be able to do their job at all. The One Team awards remind everyone that hospitals simply could not function without us. It feels great to even be nominated, let alone win.”

“It’s not just about the money, I really love what I do”

One of the other award winners is Bisiriyu Bello (pictured, centre), who has worked as a chef for fifty years. Bisiriyu has worked at Tameside Hospital in Ashton-under-Lyne for around ten years, in a kitchen team that produces a total of 1800 meals a day.

Bisiriyu Bello receiving his award: L-R Chris Walkden UNISON Rep, Bisiriyu Bello, Steve Coulding UNISON Tameside Health Branch Secretary

Bisiriyu Bello receiving his award

His colleague Mark, who nominated him for the award, describes him as ‘68 years old but with the energy and commitment of a 30 year old’. Bisiriyu’s decision to keep working three years past his retirement is evidence of this. “I’m not ready to retire, there’s nothing to do”, he says, “it’s not just about the money, I really love what I do.”

Bisiriyu was honoured to win the award, and thrilled that his colleague and head chef Mark put him forward for it. “I’m made up, I’m really flattered. The One Team awards are a really good incentive”, he said.

“I’m just doing my best at my job, every day”

Donna Stewart also works in a hospital. As a domestic services assistant, it’s her responsibility to clean operating theatres, recovery rooms and hospital corridors. She’s been in the role for ten years.

Domestic work is tiring, physically demanding work that involves cleaning a lot of heavy machinery. For Donna (pictured below, left), it can also be quite lonely: “I work from six until ten at night. If someone else is on holiday or sick, it means I’m on my own in the operating theatres on the seventh floor, which can feel like a pretty spooky place. But I know that if I don’t do it, people’s operations get cancelled.”

“If we didn’t have domestic teams, the doctors and nurses couldn’t do their jobs” she says. “We clean the operating theatres, and if they’re not a 100% sterile environment then none of the operations can take place.”

Donna Stewart (left), with branch officer Alison Burke

Donna Stewart (left), with branch officer Alison Burke

After being nominated by her colleague Ben, Donna was surprised to receive an award for something she has done routinely for a decade. “I’m just doing my best at my job every day”, she says, “I’m not doing it for the recognition.”

Though Donna feels appreciated by her nursing colleagues, she doesn’t think domestic staff get enough public recognition. “You do see the doctors and nurses getting public recognition but the domestics are never mentioned. It all starts with the domestics because if we don’t do our job, the higher bands can’t do theirs.”

Donna, Bisiriyu and Julie are just three of hundreds of thousands of UNISON members who work as support staff within the health service. Katie Hodgson, chair of UNISON’s national operational services occupational group, said it was difficult to select winners from almost 800 entries:

“Our panel was blown away by the standard of nominations. The passion that nominees had for their work shone through, as did the enormous respect and admiration people felt for the colleagues they nominated.”

“Our three fantastic winners exemplify UNISON’s message that our health service is one team, where staff in every role contribute to quality patient care, both directly and indirectly.”

Nominations for the 2025 One Team Awards will open in autumn.

Find out more about the One Team campaign

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