HSJ editor Alastair McLellan’s speech from last night’s ceremony, in which he says that the winning entries represent the kind of thinking that will help the NHS to achieve the tough goals laid down in the Next Steps efficiency plan

Good evening and welcome to the HSJ Value in Healthcare Awards.

We are here tonight to recognise and celebrate the best in the NHS as represented by the entries to these awards.

But before we do so, I want to pay tribute to the NHS staff and organisations who responded with such speed, professionalism, humanity – and, yes, efficiency – to the sickening terror attack in Manchester on Monday night.

To the fore were staff from the North West Ambulance Service – who are with us tonight.

But the NHS’s response came from across Manchester, the wider North West, from Yorkshire and from Wales and, no doubt, from further afield too.

What is more is that response also came from across the NHS workforce. The paramedics and other emergency clinicians were, of course, in the vanguard, but staff of all types – regardless of whether they were on duty or not – sped to support patients, services and/or colleagues.

And - this being the NHS - those staff came from a wide range of ethnic and religous backgrounds.

We know that many of the staff involved will have seen awful things this week – things that even the most robust and experienced will find hard to live with.

We send them all our love and support – and want them to know that we are proud of them and the example they have set.

Sleeves rolled up

These awards are dedicated to the dominating challenge facing the NHS – how to improve care quality and efficiency within a tightening financial budget.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens recently declared that whatever the outcome of the general election there was “no version of reality” which did not see the NHS “rolling up its sleeves” to tackle a series of fierce operational challenges for the foreseeable future.

That view of the world is supported by the analysis undertaken by HSJ, as well as other commentators, showing that there is very little to choose between the funding offers made by Conservatives, Labour or Liberal Democrats – and that even the most generous constituted about half what is considered necessary.

No wonder then that Mr Stevens also told HSJ that successfully delivering the 10-point efficiency plan contained within March’s Five Year Forward View Next Steps document would be “the difference between success and failure for the NHS in 2017 and 18.”

Now one of those 10 points is about chasing overseas patients for payments – which is a bit silly and only included to keep the PM sweet…

…but the other nine are worth recounting, while we also remind ourselves of tonight’s 20 award categories.

They are: freeing up hospital beds; improving workforce productivity; getting more out of procurement; boosting the value of pharmacy and medicines management; managing demand; reducing variation in clinical quality; tackling the NHS estate; enhancing administrative efficiency; and ensuring good financial oversight.

It’s a pretty close match and I’d argue that means the work we celebrate here offers the best chance for the NHS to meet Simon’s definition of success during the next two years.

‘Every one of the shortlisted and winning entries from tonight’s awards will be added to HSJ Solutions – an online database, which has grown to become the largest repository of validated best practice available to the NHS’

And on that basis he should feel very encouraged. For the number and quality of entries to this year’s Value in Healthcare Awards are the most impressive to date.

We received over 400 entries – from every region and from every type of NHS organisation. That the NHS is able to continue to innovate while under such historic pressure is a tribute to its resilience and, in particular, to the efforts of the people sitting in this room.

Win or lose tonight – the NHS and those it serves owes you a vote of thanks.

Meet the host

It is also important that it gets the opportunity to learn from what you’ve done.

To make sure that happens, every one of the shortlisted and winning entries from tonight’s awards will be added to HSJ Solutions – an online database, which has grown to become the largest repository of validated best practice available to the NHS.

Before we get to the awards, I have two other important duties.

The first is to thank two very important groups of people – our judges and our sponsors.

Without either of them, this event would not be happening and the NHS would never the opportunity to learn from your excellence.

Please join me in thanking them.

It’s now time for me to introduce our host for the evening.

A regular on TV comedy staples including Never Mind the Buzzcocks and Mock the Week; she was a writer for all five series of the BAFTA Award-winning So Graham Norton, and has also written for Ruby Wax, Joan Rivers, Anne Robinson, and Antand Dec among others.

Her latest tour is entitled: “Older, wiser, smarter, meaner”.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Jo Caulfield.