It’s February 21st 2023 and an unsuspecting Craig McElroy, Porter at Dublin’s Beaumont Hospital, is sat at a table beside his family and manager at a day of celebration for Healthcare Porters in London, England. Each award passes for such things as ‘Team of The Year’ and ‘Outstanding Contribution to Patient Experience’ unbeknown to Craig he is about to be named ‘International Porter of The Year’. Organisers were inspired by Craig’s nomination, sent in by his manager Ilie Pop – Portering Service Manager also of Beaumont Hospital, coupled with Ilie and Craig’s enthusiasm for the awards and for the celebration of a role that is often overlooked of its importance by that of the work of others within a hospital. It was these things which saw the organisers, GV Healthcare, who were working in association with the NHS in England to put on the ceremony, to create the bespoke award for Craig – deciding to keep it top secret until the day of the event, which saw Craig burst with excitement as his name was read out. Today sees Craig presented with his trophy in front of his colleagues and senior management – where he is known as “The Red Bull of the Portering Department” - at a specially arranged meeting at Beaumont Hospital, where he received a rapturous applause when going up to collect his award. Craig said: “It feels great – I was just happy to be nominated. I love working in this hospital and the people I work with, and being a Porter is great – it’s a gift. I was a little embarrassed (being presented the award in front of colleagues) but I was happy to see that they were all happy for me and cheering me on. I couldn’t be happier. I love giving them (the patients) the finest of service and getting the thanks (from them) at the end. I have great banter with the patients and I’ll just continue to treat them with the best of respect and love”
Craig’s nomination came hot on the heels of him being named ‘Porter of The Year’ at Beaumont – all the more impressive with it being in his first year as a Porter. His manager Ilie Pop said: “His attitude in work has been the highest ever and the compliments Craig receives every day are the best we have heard in a long time. If you could multiply him going forward, delivery of service would be of a very high standard at all times. He’s not had a single day off sick, he is complimented each and every day he’s here and every team in the hospital wishes to work with him”. GV Healthcare’s Mark Edwards, who presented the award to Craig alongside Ilie, said: “It’s fantastic to be able to celebrate unsung healthcare heroes like Craig. We’ve been in contact with a number of hospitals across Ireland for a number of months now and have seen first-hand how the Irish really show support for their Porters and are keen to shout about the great, often underappreciated work they do. We’ve seen a number of hospitals in Ireland realising how much impact an efficient Portering service can have on the services provided by Doctors and Nurses, which has seen hospitals looking into investment in Portering to the benefit of patients with improved flow of patients through the hospital, alongside benefits to the Porters in terms of their wellbeing”.
Back in February, the Finalists attended a live conference during the day which saw them hear guest speakers talk to them about the future of portering, team work and portering peers who talked best practice and the need for Governments to acknowledge the expertise of portering with recognised qualifications. Guests then dined on a three-course meal before the live awards ceremony celebrated the great work done by these unsung heroes of the NHS, HSE and every other health board and institution present.
Fiona Daly - National Deputy Director of Estates at NHS England said at the event: “Today’s event has been brilliant, here, recognizing all the great work that is happening across healthcare with the portering services within Estates and Facilities – during times like the pandemic, the likes of the porters, the cleaners, the security guards – they kept hospitals going. They are the beating heart and it has been amazing to be here today recognizing all of their efforts not just for during the pandemic, but now as we move towards a period of recovery”.