Members of Barts Health have been recognised in national awards celebrating the contribution to the NHS by people from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds.
On 12th June, doctors Vanessa Apea - alongside her mother Beatrice Akyeampong, a retired nurse - and Bijay Sinha were among those chosen from the thousands of nominations recognised for their work improving health inequalities and providing inspirational leadership.
Six members of Barts Health staff were shortlisted from more than 11,000 nominations by members of the public, patients and staff.
The NHS Windrush 70 Awards mark the 70th anniversary of the arrival of Empire Windrush and also the 70th birthday of the NHS, celebrating contributions by people from BME backgrounds who make up a fifth of the NHS workforce from over 200 nationalities.
At an awards event on 12th June Dr Bijay Sinha, a Consultant at Whipps Cross Hospital, was awarded as BME inspirational leader. The award recognised his 'exceptional leadership and passion helping to create and deliver change'. In his nomination, Dr Sinha was described as 'a pleasure to work with' and hailed as 'helping the team focus energy on delivering great care for patients'.
Dr Sinha said: "I am honoured to be among the winners. This means a lot and inspires me to continue with my hard work. I am thankful to the patients of Syringa ward and my colleagues. And, last but not the least, my family; without their support I would not have achieved this.”
Joint winners Dr Vanessa Apea, a Sexual Health Consultant at Barts Health, and her mother Beatrice Akyeampong were hailed as ‘tireless champions of reducing health inequalities having helped countless patients to better navigate their healthcare journey and inspired their colleagues to do the same’. Dr Apea works across Tower Hamlets, Walthamstow and Newham.
Dr Apea said: "It is a real honour to be recognised in this way but two things make it particularly special. My mother has been a lifelong inspiration, in terms of her work ethic and dedication to the NHS, so I’m over the moon that she has been recognised in this way too. And being nominated by my wonderful colleagues is real testament to our department and the great team that I am a part of.”
A special recognition award was presented to 92 year-old Alford Gardner, who travelled as a passenger on Empire Windrush on June 22 1948, by Lord Victor Adebowale.
Simon Stevens, Chief Executive, NHS England, said: “Since its founding in 1948, people from black and ethnic minority backgrounds have played a huge part in shaping the health service and remain a crucial part of our NHS.”
In a recorded message played at the awards ceremony, Prime Minister Theresa May paid tribute to the award winners saying: “Without you, there is no NHS and we treasure you every bit as much as the NHS itself.”