This is an edited version of the opening speech made by editor Alastair McLellan at the 2016 HSJ Awards

hsj awards 2016

HSJ Awards 2016

Over the last 35 years, the HSJ Awards have grown to become the largest celebration of healthcare excellence in the UK – and very probably the biggest healthcare awards in the world.

It has done so for one reason above all: the dedication of NHS staff from every discipline and every sector to drive improvements which benefit patient care and strengthen a service which has become the defining characteristic of this nation.

In fact it could be argued that belief in the NHS is the one thing that still unites this kingdom.

Even in this year of unremitting toil, the entries to the HSJ Awards have once again touched record levels.

I have had the honour of being the editor of HSJ for most of the last 14 years and I cannot remember a time when the NHS was being braver and bolder in meeting the challenges that rising demand presents for all modern healthcare systems.

Healthcare systems across the world are in awe of the scale and pace of changes being made to care delivery and organisation by the NHS.

Your day jobs will often – maybe even usually – seem very tough. You will often feel like you are getting nowhere. But take it from me: healthcare systems across the world are in awe of the scale and pace of changes being made to care delivery and organisation by the NHS.

The NHS remains the greatest laboratory in world healthcare and the prevailing view remains: if an advance is believed to have the potential to make a real difference to patient outcomes, experience or safety it is the NHS which remains the world’s best testing ground.

Of course, it would be perfectly reasonable if few of you gave any thought to the global implications of your work – you have enough on your plates.

Indeed, when the story of this period of the NHS’s history is written the authors will marvel at the resilience of its staff and conclude that it was they who pulled it through its toughest test. NHS funding has been squeezed since the start of the decade but it is serving 1,400 more mental health service users a day; treating 2,500 extra in A&E – 90 per cent or more within four hours – and carrying out 4,400 more operations.

This would be a good excuse to stick to the day job. But many in the service – and it is you I am talking about in case you were in any doubt – are not satisfied with that and demand more of yourself and for the people you serve.

Long road to success

I do not need to tell you that the road to this awards night is a long one. First – and most important – you had to conceive of and deliver a highly successful project; then you had to find the time to put together a compelling entry; then came our shortlisting day, where 85 per cent of our entries – many of very high quality – fell by the wayside. Then, finally, came the face to face judging – where you had to make your case to some of the most experienced, influential, well known and, let’s admit it, sometimes a little scary names in UK healthcare.

Tonight, each category will have only one winner. But every person in this room is an NHS champion and should feel very, very proud of themselves and their work.

HSJ will make sure that work is available for NHS colleagues to learn from. Details of the great majority of shortlisted and winning entries will be published tonight on our new best practice database HSJ Solutions.

This year we made a concerted effort to give you the judges your work deserved. The fact that we are able to persuade figures such as Salford’s Sir David Dalton, NHS England’s Sir Malcom Grant, the CQC’s Professor Steve Field and NICE’s Professor David Haslam among many other senior figures to take part in the judging demonstrates the value they attach to your work. We thank them all.