Published on: 22 November 2023

A team from East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust has been crowned Public Health Heroes after showing compassionate care during a family’s difficult time.


The Head and Neck Team, based at Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital, were recognised following a public appeal designed to encourage patients or their families to share examples of outstanding care as part of the Trust’s annual Star Awards.


The Public Health Hero category attracted more than 65 nominations but the judges were overwhelmed by the nomination submitted by Jane Devanney after her mum Pauline was given the devastating diagnosis of mouth cancer just days after her husband of 48 years had died.


Jane said the team went ‘above and beyond’, giving ‘first class care’ to her mum during her treatment until she sadly died just before Christmas.


Jane said: “We would like to express how very grateful we are for all their care, compassion and understanding at such an incredibly difficult time. We felt we could ring up at any time and were seen at short notice on several occasions.


“I can’t pick one person - although mum would pick Tom - but I’d like to thank the whole team with special mentions for Tom, Rochelle, Hannah, Mr Kyzas (who mum called Teddybear), Vorry (who mum called Mrs Custard) and Andy.


“You are all amazing people and we are very thankful for all that you did for us.”


Lead Head and Neck Nurse, Hannah Kulbacki, who was part of the team that looked after Pauline, said the team were very touched to have been nominated.


She said: “We were very overwhelmed and proud because winning the award was a massive achievement and the fact it is a patient’s family that has taken the time to nominate us at such a difficult time in their lives says a lot.


“As a team we always strive to keep the patient at the heart of everything we do.” 


The annual Star Awards recognise the fantastic work and achievements of colleagues and volunteers at the Trust.


There were 15 coveted categories, including Clinical Team of the Year, Unsung Hero and Rising Star.


A particular highlight was the Public Health Hero as nominations for this award are from patients or their relatives and carers and recognises those who have made a significant and memorable difference to the lives and experiences of patients and their families.


Sharon Gilligan, Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Operating Officer at the Trust, presented the Head and Neck team with their award.


She said: “There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when I read out the very moving nomination written by Pauline’s daughter, Jane.


“It was clear that the Head and Neck team went above and beyond to provide safe, personal and effective care to Pauline, building a really special bond with her and her family during what was an extremely challenging time.”