Last month, I was invited to go along to the NHS Borders Celebrating Excellence awards. It was a really entertaining evening in the company of staff from all sectors of the local area health service.
The Secret Opera Singers, who were disguised as waiting staff, got the evening off to a wonderful start and sprung a few surprises on unsuspecting guests.
So we all had a terrific time and really enjoyed ourselves. But there is a more fundamental point behind these awards.
Providing people within the NHS with formal recognition of the great job they do is an excellent idea. The dedicated care these staff provide should never be taken for granted
Our NHS is all about people. Yes, it has cutting edge technology and medicines. But it’s individuals who carry out operations, nurse us back to health, care for us and keep our hospitals and health centres clean and fit for purpose. They do so with cheeriness and remarkable fortitude and they gain great job satisfaction from what they do.
Teams and individuals work hard to develop and deliver innovative strategies in all areas, and in such a large organisation it might be easy to feel their efforts are overlooked.
Events like the Celebrating Excellence awards demonstrate that the people at the very top of the health board appreciate what staff do. That recognition helps everyone to stay motivated and feel that their contribution is important to the overall effort to maintain and improve health in the Borders.
Of course our Scottish NHS isn’t perfect – no universal service, free at the point of delivery ever can be – and the demands are growing, not least from an ageing population and the associated health consequences.
Our healthcare system is the jewel in the crown of our public service and the Scottish Government is totally committed to keeping it that way. There will be no attempt to privatise elements of it, as has happened south of the border. It is, and will remain, in public hands.
The new SNP Government has pledged to make what is already a world-class service even better. It aims to increase the NHS revenue budget by £500 million more than inflation by the end of this parliament – a rise of almost £2 billion in total.
There’s also a new ten-year plan to transform mental health and invest an additional £150 million to improve services in this sector. There will be a further investment of £100 million to improve the prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
These are important improvements to already excellent provision and they will make a difference here in the Borders. It’s yet another reason for staff to celebrate.
Well done to everyone, then, for organising these awards. Just one final thought. Wouldn’t it be great if other parts of the public sector in Scotland recognised and rewarded their outstanding staff in the same way?