HEALTH minister Vaughan Gething today backed the first ever South Wales Argus Health and Care Awards at an official launch event.

The awards aim to celebrate inspirational and dedicated workers in the health and care industry, and were launched this morning with support from the Welsh Government and a host of sponsors.

Speaking at the event - held at the Royal College of Nursing in Cardiff - the cabinet secretary for health said it was important to highlight the “life-enhancing, life-changing and lifesaving” work of the healthcare industry by saying “thank you”.

“These awards will allow Gwent to do that," he added.

"To showcase the excellence that exists, to showcase the commitment that exists, to show the innovation and improvement that exists.

“I reluctantly accept that the health service will work fine without me but it wouldn’t work without those health care support workers, physiotherapists and doctors.

“All of those people and the support around them are what makes our service truly fantastic.

“So, I look forward to seeing that quality, that thirst for improvement and that public commitment come out in the nominations people make.”

With 15 categories to choose from, the awards reflect the range of work across the health sectors including both service delivery and research, said the managing director of the South Wales Argus, Hussain Bayoomi.

“For me personally, it’s not until you actually experience it that you realise what a phenomenal job these health care workers do and how they absolutely change your lives,” added Mr Bayoomi, who told those in attendance how the awards originated from a chance meeting with long-time friend, and now South Wales Argus head of events, Cathy Parsons, when both their mothers were receiving care in the University Hospital Wales, in Cardiff.

“For me, the awards were a very interesting concept on what we could do to give something back.”

Award categories - for which nominations are open now - range from GP practice of the year, volunteer of the year and an early years award to mental health team of the year, hospital of the year and innovative care in the care home sector.

Senior content editor at the South Wales Argus, Robert Owen, encouraged members of the public to nominate the region's health heroes.

“Many of you will know someone who deserves to be nominated," he said.

“Such tireless work isn’t always highlighted and this is a rare chance to share their stories”.

The event’s main sponsor is St Joseph’s Hospital, in Malpas, which was founded in 1946.

Since 2014 it has invested £10million into its services, including a 'centre for advanced diagnostics'.

Business development director at St Joseph’s Hospital, Fiona Davies, said: "It's really exciting for us to be a part of establishing these awards in their inaugural year.

"Individuals working in the health and care professions work incredibly hard to provide vital services and we're proud to be sponsoring an award that will recognise that hard work and dedication."

Karen Welch, of sponsor Western Power Distribution, said: “We take things for granted and the awards are a fantastic way of giving people a pat on the back and making them realise they’re valued.”

While Cait Myers, of Health and Care Research Wales, added the awards will also showcase the staff working in the research sector helping to develop service delivery and social care.

“It would nice for those delivery staff to get acknowledged (alongside) the fact research is taking place in Wales and that it does make a difference,” she said.

“What happening today in research affects tomorrow’s care”.

Sharon Owen, of Welsh Hearts, credited the work of first responders and cardiologists who help the charity in their work providing defibrillators and training across Wales.

“Giving people recognition is so important and I’m delighted to be one of the supporters,” she added.

Category sponsors include the Tovey Brothers, Malmo Hearing, Western Power Distribution, St John’s College, Cwmbran Centre, the Royal College of Nursing, Chepstow Racecourse, Health and Care Research Wales, Newport City Council and the Freemasons of Monmouth.

Additional sponsors include Mayberry Pharmacy, ACT Training, Welsh Hearts, Pendragon Fireworks and Pyrotechnics and Rutherford Cancer Centres.

Mr Gething, closing his speech at the awards launch, added: “Hopefully this will become an annual event and we can take time out every year to pause, reflect, say thank you and understand what each of us can do to better support our health service in the future”.

Nominations close at 5pm on Friday August 25.

Following this, a panel of judges will be formed to decide the winners in September - and these will be revealed at a special presentation event at Chepstow Racecourse on October 19.

To nominate, or find out more about the awards, visit