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Hospital staff win Suffolk Heroes awards

A team that was set up at the start of the pandemic to provide wellbeing support and a manager who oversees the provision of community equipment have been recognised by Suffolk MPs as ‘Suffolk Heroes’.

The county’s seven MPs created the awards to recognise Suffolk people who have gone the extra mile during the pandemic. 

West Suffolk Foundation Trust’s staff psychology support team and community manager Laura Rawlings were both selected for the accolade in recognition of their work and efforts to help others.

The staff psychology support team, which is made up of clinical psychologists, special therapists and counsellors, offer a wide range of support to individuals and teams at the Trust including 1-2-1 sessions, coping strategies, anxiety management and more. The support is available to all staff and sessions can be undertaken in person or remotely for those who work from home or work at various sites across the community.

Dr Emily Baker, who leads the team said: “I’m delighted for our team to be recognised for the hugely important work they have done since the start of the pandemic. We encourage staff across the organisation to think about their wellbeing and offer practical strategies to help with issues such as sleeping or coping with intrusive images.

“We’ve found that during Covid-19, a lot of the concerns of our staff are from a mixture of challenges outside of work combined with the increased demands of working in the NHS during this time. People haven’t been able to access the things they would normally do in order to manage their wellbeing so our team has worked with individuals and teams at all levels of seniority and we’ve always stressed that we’re only a message away.  

“We hope we have also been able to tackle some of the stigma around mental health and wellbeing and that people know “It’s okay not to be okay”. It has been a privilege to support our colleagues and we feel very lucky to have this opportunity.”

Laura Rawlings, who has worked at the Trust for 10 years, was also recognised for her fantastic work throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

Laura is a contract manager for the community equipment and wheelchair services. Her team ensures that community staff in Suffolk are able to provide patents with a wide array of equipment such as crutches, hoists and wheelchairs supported by equipment providers Medequip and Ross Care.

Laura said: “This has been such a difficult year for everybody in the NHS and the people it serves. The teams I support have worked tirelessly to ensure that patients have the correct equipment in a timely manner and therefore ensuring that they are able to live independent lives as possible at home”

“The teams providing care in Suffolk have had to deal with a lot throughout the last 15 months but they have gone above and beyond in a way unimaginable to make sure that the patients they care after in their own homes are safe and cared for. I’m delighted to be recognised for this important work and have nothing but praise and admiration for the teams I work with day in, day out, for everything they do for Suffolk communities.  I accept this award on behalf of each and every one of them knowing how we all collectively contributed to patient care during this time”

Bury St Edmunds MP Jo Churchill said: “In what has been one of the most challenging periods in many of our lifetimes, it is important to shine a light on the amazing kindness, generosity and care given by so many.

“I am hopeful these awards will go a small way to recognising some truly amazing individuals.”

Trust chief executive Steve Dunn said: “I am so proud of both Laura and the staff psychology support team and everything they have accomplished. It goes without saying that the NHS up and down the country has had an unconceivably difficult 16 months and professionals like Emily and Laura and their teams in supporting both our colleagues and patients when they need it most.

“I’m delighted they are being recognised by MPs in our county for what wonderful and crucial jobs they are doing.”