North Devon District Hospital ICU has been nominated for Best Team at The Sun’s Who Cares Wins Awards, broadcast on Channel 4 later this year.
This award honours any NHS or healthcare team on the front line or behind the scenes that has gone above and beyond the call of duty.
FALLING ill with Covid as the pandemic first began to grip in March 2020, Mandy Mitchell, the hospital's first COVID patient, was put in an induced coma, given a tracheotomy and placed on a mechanical ventilator in North Devon Hospital’s ICU ward.
But thanks to the dedication of the intensive care team, Mandy, 60, pulled through. Kind staff had even compiled a diary for Mandy, filling in all the blanks of her 96 days in the Barnstaple hospital. While Mandy does not remember much of her journey, she won’t forget the team’s kindness. It’s why she nominated them for The Sun’s outstanding teamwork award.
Mandy, a former phlebotomist [an expert in taking blood], said: “I have no recollection of any 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 absolute world to me. I couldn’t have my family come and visit so the medical team all became like a family to me. I’ll never be able to repay what they did. They brought me back to my own family but in doing so, they have become family to me too.”
Dr Emma Fisher, the ICU doctor on duty, said: “When Mandy came in, her chances of survival were 50:50. The virus was so new, we weren’t even in lockdown yet.”
ICU staff nurse Alison Smith said: “Mandy was so unwell — all we could do was take it hour by hour. Kevin couldn’t come to see her, and neither could her daughter Gemma or son Lee. We have patient diaries we fill in for long-term patients. We’d write all sorts in Mandy’s — how she was doing, what was going on in the news, who might look after her tomorrow.”
The Sun has partnered with public service broadcaster Channel 4 and NHS Charities Together to make the annual Who Cares Wins awards the biggest and best yet. Backed by the Prime Minister, the awards will celebrate and thank all the healthcare heroes, key workers and ordinary people who have got us through one of the most difficult years in living history.
The winners of the Who Cares Wins Awards 2021 will be revealed at a star-studded ceremony in London, hosted by Davina McCall on Channel 4 later this year.
The awards were set up in 2017 as a way for readers to celebrate their NHS and healthcare heroes, and now in their fourth year after being pioneered by The Sun’s late Health Editor Christina Newbury, who died suddenly, aged 31. The Christina Newbury Memorial Award is named in her honour.
The other finalists in the Best Team category, voted for by Sun readers, are Glasgow’s Royal Hospital for Children and Court House retirement Home in Cheddar, Somerset.
Victoria Newton, Editor-in-Chief of The Sun said: “All of the nominated teams are worthy winners in the Best Team category. Reading their stories it is impossible to ignore the impact COVID has had on the the teams and the families involved, but it is inspiring to see how each of the teams have gone beyond the call of duty to help their patients and loved ones. I wish them all the very best of luck!”
Ellie Orton, Chief Executive of NHS Charities Together, said: “Thank you to the Sun and Channel 4 for this chance to highlight the NHS staff, volunteers and charity workers who have been there for us throughout the Covid crisis, their commitment, the sacrifices they have made and the toll it has taken on them. There are so many powerful stories to tell, and this is an opportunity to tell them and show how much we appreciate what they have done and continue to do for all of us.”
To vote for your favourite team visit www.thesun.co.uk/wcwteams
All other award categories will be voted for by a panel of judges.