Winner: NHS North West

The trust takes top prize for its ambitious plan to be totally compliant with the European working-time directive a year ahead of the rest of the country

NHS North West, North West deanery and Mersey deanery joined forces last year to recruit a team of junior doctors with the aim of achieving 100 per cent compliance of the European working-time directive by August 2008, one year ahead of the rest of the UK.

This has involved providing strategic direction and support through work with local trusts, educational bodies, national regulators and representation from the region's 4,000 or more junior doctors.

The solutions have been addressed with service, training and working-time directive compliance in mind.

The project has broken new ground on many levels. It is the only team of its kind to have junior doctors as leaders and performance managers. A number of innovative tools and processes have made project objectives attainable.

These include the use of IT applications to use doctors' time more efficiently, communication systems such as bedside tablet PCs, remote access for trainees in radiology, involvement in major paediatrics and women's services reconfiguration, training and new roles for nurses and allied healthcare professionals, and new ways for learning and development in out of hours, including surgical simulators.

The team has gained an excellent reputation through providing innovative, practical and sustainable solutions to the workforce use and development of junior doctors. The team also provided support to trusts to comply with the directive through a range of forums, including human resources, medical staffing and junior doctors.

The judges praised the pioneering approach taken by NHS North West to delivering the working-time directive a year early. They noted that it was achieving real service benefits that put junior doctors in the driving seat.

Health and Safety EWTD Legislation, contact omar.najim1@mac.com

Highly Commended: Calderdale and Huddersfield foundation trust

The Calderdale Framework is a systematic method of reviewing service skill-mix and roles with a patient focus.

It uses open and objective processes and is capable of delivering a competent and flexible workforce, managing the risks associated with delegation and cross-professional skill-sharing, enabling implementation of Skills for Health competences.

Across Calderdale and Huddersfield, it has led to improved quality assurance for patients, increased activity - with more direct contact and less waiting - reduced costs and a more satisfied workforce.

The Calderdale framework, contact rachael.smith@cht.nhs.uk

Highly Commended: NHS West Midlands

The workforce deanery at NHS West Midlands has produced a five-year strategic framework in which it sets out its vision for matching multidisciplinary workforce development with strategic and operational service priorities to deliver high-quality services.

Strategic leadership, the fostering of key partnerships and a successfully implemented model of stakeholder engagement have been part of the deanery's work. Five multi-agency locality workforce stakeholder boards now fund innovation and encourage cross-agency working. In 2007-08, 176 projects benefited from£27m.

Investing for the workforce, contact caroline.donovan@westmidlands.nhs.uk

Finalist: Mersey Care Trust

Mersey Care trust, which provides specialist mental health and learning disabilities services, believes service users and carers have the right to work.

To support this, it invests in a wide range of flexible employment opportunities, including voluntary and paid work placements and paid sessional opportunities.

The trust has teamed up with a social enterprise to "grow" service users into domestic, catering and portering vacancies and provide a painting and decorating scheme. More than 400 service users and carers have gained access to full or part-time employment.

Specialist mental health and learning disabilities services, contact lindsey.dyer@merseycare.nhs.uk

Finalist: NHS Plymouth

The NHS Plymouth workforce development team has developed an integrated approach to workforce planning and development that includes workforce development leads, public health specialist input and finance guidance and advice.

By developing annual workforce action plans within established financial envelopes, the PCT can meet the commissioning and provider directorates' workforce capacity and capability needs, while shifting the emphasis to health promotion services.

Managers have been empowered to build workforce development plans.

Workforce development team, contact kevin.elliston@plymouth.nhs.uk

Finalist: Tameside Hospital foundation trust

Tameside developed a major programme to change the culture of staff so that every patient, carer, relative and colleague felt treated with respect when coming into contact with the hospital's services.

The trust also sought to ensure that tangible evidence of change and continuous quality improvement is available on an ongoing basis to commissioners, employees and assessors.

An impact evaluation has demonstrated significant improvements in patient satisfaction, organisational communications and the early detection of problems at clinical level.

Culture and staff behaviour change, contact david.wilkinson@tgh.nhs.uk