Butterfly volunteers win NHS 70 birthday parliamentary awards

Congratulations to East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust’s Butterfly volunteers honoured in parliament as part of a special, one-off competition to mark the NHS’s 70th birthday.

The team, who sit with dying patients, won the Care and Compassion Award in the NHS70 Parliamentary Awards having been nominated by Sir Oliver Heald QC MP. They are funded by the hospital charity.

Angela Fenn, Butterfly volunteer service co-ordinator who received the award at the Palace of Westminster on Wednesday 4 July, said: "Winning this award will have a tremendous impact on the future of this amazing service. It will not only allow us to go forward and expand, but ultimately help and advise other NHS trusts on how they can make a difference to their patients who find themselves alone at the end of their life."

Janet Davies, chief executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, presented them with the award, saying: “The Butterfly volunteers team exemplify the good things that can happen when volunteers, NHS charities and professionals work together, and it was a real privilege for me to part of recognising them here today. The last days of life can be an exceptionally difficult time for anyone, but particularly those who may not have someone there for them, so these volunteers perform an exceptionally valuable service, which I hope continues to flourish.”

A relative, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “Our whole family would like to express how thankful we are to have the Butterfly volunteers around during our Mum's last days. Knowing there was a Butterfly volunteer who would sit with Mum when we were not able to be by her side bought us comfort. Coming into the room at the hospital and seeing a volunteer reading poems, showed us just how much you all care about making sure our beautiful Mum never felt alone at this sad time."

Also representing the Midlands and East region in the national awards were East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust’s renal telemedicine team and from West Herts, a combined diabetes and mental health team was chosen for its outstanding work in improving care for people with diabetes who are also coping with mental health conditions.

“It’s wonderful that the innovative and collaborative teams across Hertfordshire’s NHS staff were in the running for the national NHS70 Parliamentary Awards,” said Deborah Fielding, Hertfordshire and west Essex Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) lead. “To have three schemes shortlisted from one STP area is really impressive and I am thrilled to see local excellence being acknowledged.”

A total of 40 schemes were shortlisted from more than 750 nominations by MPs across England, who were asked to highlight individuals and teams they thought had made the biggest improvements to health services in their constituencies across 10 categories.

The renal telemedicine service allows people to avoid tiring regular journeys to hospital, by helping them through video consultations either to perform dialysis at home or have regular monitoring from home after a kidney transplant. Sir Oliver said: “I was very impressed by the caring nature of this project and that it shows us one aspect of the potential future for NHS care, which is why I nominated them.”

The diabetes team from West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust (WHHT) and the mental health team from Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (HPFT) were nominated by Watford MP Richard Harrington, who said: “By working closely together, they have made some real improvements to services locally. These will ultimately lead to improved access to care and a better quality of life for people coping with both diabetes and mental health conditions.”

All of the champions attended the national awards ceremony on the day before the NHS’s 70th birthday, which was hosted by Dr Sara Kayat, NHS GP and TV doctor best known for This Morning and Celebrity Island with Bear Grylls.