HERE’S your chance to pick your dream team in our Who Cares Wins Awards.
Nominations for our gongs have closed – and readers now have the chance to vote for the nation’s most amazing healthcare heroes.
This year we are inviting YOU to judge our Best Team category.
The award honours any NHS or healthcare team that has gone above and beyond the call of duty.
The winners will be presented with the gong at our glittering awards ceremony in London, hosted by Davina McCall and screened by Channel 4 next month.
To vote for your favourite team, visit thesun.co.uk/wcwteams.
Catriona Graffius, Lynsey Hope and Clare O’Reilly showcase our three brilliant finalists.
'Incredible team is unlike any other. They have become family'
Ward 3B, Royal Hospital For Children in Glasgow
AT just 18 months old, Aria Gowran has braved more surgery than most will face in a lifetime.
Diagnosed with a rare liver condition soon after her birth, the youngster has spent almost all her short life in hospital.
Having arrived four weeks early on January 20, 2020, Aria struggled with high jaundice levels.
At just two weeks old, the tot was rushed from hospital in Glasgow to a specialist centre in Leeds for two emergency operations for biliary atresia, a potentially life-threatening condition which blocks the tubes carrying bile from the liver.
And at seven months, Aria survived an emergency liver transplant, with her 22-year-old mum Autumn Cayzer donating part of her own.
As Aria’s continuing health issues have kept her in hospital, the nurses at Ward 3B in Glasgow’s Royal Hospital for Children have cared for and nurtured the youngster — looking after not only her medical care but also encouraging her early years development.
The team have also supported Autumn and her partner Ryan Gowran, 29, both from Clydebank, Glasgow, every step of the way.
The couple have had to balance looking after their son Edan, two, and managing Aria’s health amid the pandemic.
Now they have paid tribute to the incredible team and nominated them for one of The Sun’s Who Cares Wins Awards.
Ryan says: “The team on 3B is unlike any other. They have become family and have given Aria an unforgettable first 18 months. The amount of care they do, not just for her but for myself, Autumn and Edan as a family unit, is incredible.
“They don’t just worry about the patient, they worry about the family in the background. Along with the team in Leeds, they have saved our baby’s life on more than one occasion.
“We nominated Ward 3B because we feel the Who Cares Wins Awards would be the biggest way to show our thanks for all the help they have provided over the last year.”
‘SHE HAS SUCH A BOND WITH US’
Acting senior charge nurse Jennifer Woods, 29, was deeply humbled by the nomination.
She says: “Aria has become part of the Ward 3B family. For her short life, she’s actually spent very little of it at home.
“She has such a bond with us — everybody loves Aria. It’s just nice to see we’ve actually got her to this place because there have been lots of times when we’ve thought she would not have made it to this point.
“We care for Aria and love her to pieces but we never really think about what we do
“So it’s nice to be recognised for the care. And it’s nice to know we are appreciated by Ryan and Autumn.”
'Medics saved my life – I will never be able to repay them'
North Devon District Hospital ICU
FALLING ill with Covid as the pandemic first struck the country in March 2020, Mandy Mitchell’s chances of survival did not look good.
With the virus ravaging her body, she was put in an induced coma, given a tracheotomy and placed on a mechanical ventilator in North Devon Hospital’s ICU.
She had three fingers amputated due to Covid-related circulation problems and medics warned her family to fear the worst.
But Mandy, 60, pulled through, thanks to the dedication of the intensive care team.
Staff even kept a diary for her, filling in the blanks of the 96 days she spent in the Barnstable hospital.
Mandy, a former phlebotomist [an expert in taking blood] said: “I have no recollection of the period in the coma, but every day doctors and nurses wrote me notes telling me I was doing great, that I was a fighter and could get better. It means the world to me.”
‘MEANS THE WORLD’
At first, Mandy and her husband Kevin, 66, thought they had flu when they fell ill.
Kevin recovered after a week, but Mandy’s fever hit 39.4C and she started coughing up blood.
On March 22, she became the hospital’s first Covid patient.
Dr Emma Fisher, the ICU doctor on duty, feared Mandy’s prognosis was not good. She recalls: “When Mandy came in, her chance of survival was 50-50.
“The virus was so new we weren’t even in lockdown.”
Despite having no other conditions and being fit, Mandy’s body was ravaged by Covid.
It affected her brain, heart and kidneys while she was in the coma.
ICU staff nurse Alison Smith said: “Mandy was so unwell — we had to take it hour by hour. Kevin couldn’t come to see her. Neither could her daughter Gemma or son Lee.
“We keep patient diaries for long-term patients. We’d write all sorts in Mandy’s. Nurses and medics left her notes to ‘keep fighting’.”
Mandy says she will never forget the team’s kindness.
It is why she nominated them for The Sun’s outstanding teamwork award.
Through tears, she said: “I couldn’t have my family visit, so the medical team became like a family to me.
“I’ll never be able to repay them. They brought me back to my own family but in doing so, they have become family too.”
'We locked ourselves in to keep the coronavirus out'
Court House Retirement Home in Cheddar, Somerset
STAFF dropped everything to move into the Court House Retirement Home in Somerset as Covid spread across the country.
For 12 weeks they lived apart from their families and locked down to protect the elderly and vulnerable residents in their care.
Owner Christopher Dando said it was heartbreaking leaving his daughter Edith, now five, but he believes the huge sacrifice made by his team saved lives.
He said: “It was like a ticking timebomb. You knew if Covid got in, you could lose ten, 20, 40 residents in one go. They are all people’s mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers.
“We decided the best thing we could do was to create a bubble and lock ourselves in.”
Staff slept in empty rooms and management made up beds on the floor of a disused pharmacy.
Christopher, 55, recalled: “It was like sleeping in a junk shop. Moving in was really emotional.
“It was an emotional time anyway, but leaving our families behind was hard.
“Every time we looked at each other we’d start welling up. From that day, the only person who left the front door was me, and that was to pick up supplies my brother left on the doorstep.
“I’d then spend half my day on my hands and knees spraying it down. We didn’t want to go to the trouble of moving in and then finding Covid got in another way.”
Christopher’s team, including manager Julie White, clinical manager Donna Marke and care manager Tina Brooke, locked down in the home for 84 days. As the number of cases fell and testing increased, the incredible Court House staff were finally reunited with their families last month.
Christopher said: “Edith and I made the news having a hug as I came out.
“We had FaceTimed every night but she was only four and at that age three months is huge. I missed a big chunk of her life.”
Not a single resident caught Covid during that lockdown and to this day, not one resident has died from the virus.
Local councillor Paul Fineran nominated Court House, praising its outstanding care of residents during the pandemic, including his 96-year-old mum Catherine Wortham.
Hero staff saved NHS
By Dr Adam Kay
YOU might say working for the NHS is a bit like family: There’s laughter, tears and you’d probably rather spend your Christmas somewhere else . . . but when you pull together, you’re unstoppable.
Every single person working across healthcare plays a vital role in keeping the machine going – from the surgeons in their scrubs and the cleaners mopping miles of corridors to the dieticians and the diabetes nurses, the porters and the podiatrists.
Mucking in, stepping up, taking pride in their work and their mission to keep the rest of us on the road.
And just like a family, it’s in their DNA.
These teams have worked harder in the past 18 months than ever before in the history of the NHS.
The extra mile might have always been the standard distance for our health heroes but that has never been the case more than recently.
A mantra in the media throughout the pandemic has been that it’s a miracle the NHS didn’t collapse.
But personally, I don’t think it’s a miracle at all.
It’s the direct result of the ridiculously hard work of teams of healthcare professionals up and down the UK, there not just for patients but for each other.
Three cheers for our health teams!
He said: “The Court House staff have been phenomenal. Many have been literally living and breathing the place 24 hours a day.
“Activities had to stop but staff did all they could to keep residents happy.
“They did everything to keep residents safe — and they haven’t lost anyone.”
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