Award ceremonies have their critics and supporters. Some say that we are all here to do our job and that any celebration that identifies “winners” is elitist and fails to recognise the achievements of the many who keep on keeping on, without any expectation of acknowledgement or spotlight.
Others say that recognising and celebrating success, innovation and achievement encourages people to strive for even better results. It sets the bar for others to reach and is a way of motivating and encouraging staff that “go the extra mile”.
Some organisations run award ceremonies that celebrate long service, academic achievement, as well as awards for specific categories - sometimes nominated by other staff, patients or the public.
In the wake of the comprehensive spending review, NHS restructuring, and the need to redirect resources to the frontline, there is a real danger that this way of recognising achievement will be an easy cut to make. I would argue that it doesn’t have to be lavish or wasteful of resources - but the return on investment is worth every penny.
Morale and motivation need to be maintained. Staff are being asked to do ever more with even less: and the public and patients need confidence that the NHS is not crumbling and falling apart. There is a real need to showcase the hugely positive achievements of those who move forward treatment and patient experiences, and also the unsung heroes behind the scenes (yes, those administrators who need to be cut by 33%).
So bring it on - celebrate best practice, seek out those people who are exemplars of achievement and innovation, those who have burned the midnight oil to achieve academic qualifications while working full time at the day job. And let us remember that it isn’t just the frontline acute services which make a difference. The NHS is like any complex machine - take out one small part that may seem insignificant, and it just doesn’t work. Take out a small section of hose from a car engine and it won’t be long before it stops working. Even more important now, as we head into transition, that we motivate and boost the morale of all the workforce, whichever part of the NHS machine they support.