Whatever It Takes

This new award category recognises those extraordinary efforts, where individuals and teams have had to adapt, innovate, collaborate, support wellbeing initiatives, show great resilience despite distressing situations and lead with compassion.

Specialist Palliative Care Team

Northern Health and Social Care Trust

From the outset of the pandemic, Specialist Palliative Care services in the Northern Trust have shown compassion and leadership whilst improving end-of-life services for patients and their families. The team quickly adapted in many ways – for example moving their 12-bed in-patient unit to a community hospital in less than 24 hours.

Staff developed creative ways to provide reassurance to patients and families who struggled with restricted visiting. Staff changing rooms became meeting areas for patients with young children and a gazebo enabled socially distanced visits outside.

Members of staff got involved with a range of morale-boosting activities and the chaplain offered them ‘moments of pause’. Other professionals were given extra skills as quickly as possible to ensure they had the maximum impact for the greatest number of people requiring person centred end of life care.

What the winners say

‘At a time of great uncertainty, they ensured the patient was kept at the heart of everything they did.' - Sally Convery, Macmillan Service Lead for Palliative Care

Macmillan staff standing together inside
Image: Specialist Palliative Care Team



NHSCT Skin Cancer Team

Northern Health and Social Care Trust

Prior to the Covid pandemic, the Northern Trust’s Skin Cancer Team had spent five years developing an innovative service that delivered a range of holistic support to their patients. The team ran nine face-to-face nurse-led clinics each week across a large geographical area, so when Covid hit they had to act quickly to adapt the service to a more virtual offering. 

The team, which comprises CNSs Lynsey Atkinson and Michelle Reid, and Macmillan Support Worker Joeleen McNamee, showed tremendous resilience in the face of many challenges to develop effective new ways of working.

They began to assess patients through photo triage and they created hybrid telephone and face-to-face clinics to ensure those in need of in-person examination were appropriately assessed. They also communicated with their medical colleagues using the PANDO app and they transferred their established health and wellbeing events to a virtual format. In addition, the team used stringent quality improvement methods to test and modify each innovation, ensuring their track record in delivering excellent person-centred care remained unchanged. 

What the winners say

‘We were a vital service, so we just needed to do whatever we could to keep the service going.’ - Lynsey, Northern Trust Skin Cancer Team

Three women from the skin cancer team standing outside
Image: NHSCT Skin Cancer Team


Macmillan End of Life Care Team

London Ambulance Service NHS Trust

The Macmillan End of Life Care Team at the London Ambulance Service works to improve palliative and end of life care in the pre-hospital setting.

The team offers guidance and education to clinicians with the goal of avoiding unnecessary hospital journeys for palliative and end of life care patients. This mission became especially urgent at the advent of the Covid pandemic when patients were understandably anxious about attending hospital due to the risk of infection. 

The team responded by calling back palliative and end of life care patients who were waiting for an ambulance to offer support. They also contributed to national ambulance service guidance on end of life care, and they created initiatives to support London Ambulance Service staff who were experiencing high levels of exposure to death and bereavement.

What the winners say

‘When Covid hit, it was all hands to the pump. We tried to use our skills to support and empower clinicians on the frontline.' - Diane Laverty, Macmillan Nurse Consultant 

Three clinicians standing together smiling
Image: Macmillan End of Life Care Team


Macmillan Cancer Information and Support Service

Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust

The Macmillan Information and Support Service at Calderdale Royal Hospital and Huddersfield Royal Infirmary have always put the voice of people with cancer at the heart of their service. Their highly engaged Cancer Patient Focus Group played an integral role in co-designing their comprehensive, face-to-face health and wellbeing patient education programme.

Their offer includes First Steps, an on-diagnosis information and support programme, Thinking Ahead, a course for people with incurable cancer, and a number of well-attended support groups. When the pandemic prevented sessions from running in the usual way, the patient representatives were crucial in helping to rapidly rethink the programme and transition to an equally successful virtual delivery.

What the winners say

‘We’re proud we responded so quickly. People with cancer who were isolating and shielding, and who were extremely anxious during the pandemic, could access beneficial peer support.' - Helen Jones, Macmillan Information and Support Service Manager

The Macmillan Cancer Information team standing outside
Image: Macmillan Cancer Information Support Service



To view all the Whatever it Takes finalists watch the video below and click here.