Be in it to win it!

Love them or hate them, awards and honours offer recognition. So go for them, says Karen Middleton.


When I worked at the Department of Health, I was very privileged to be involved in the early part of the process to award clinicians with honours – the KBEs, DBEs, CBEs, OBEs and the MBEs that you read about in your newspaper.

It was a delight to congratulate the recipients knowing that this was going to be an exciting time for them and their families and that they had been recognised for all they had contributed in public life.

Over the years I have also been on many judging panels and attended other award ceremonies. On every occasion it was a joy to see what it means for individuals, teams or services to gain the recognition they deserved.

And yet, I have always been struck by how few allied health professionals (AHPs) seem to come through compared to the other clinical professions. I have also received many comments about this.

My answer is always the same: You have to be in it to win it!

Often the people commenting about the lack of AHPs have never nominated anyone or entered the competition.

Physio staff winning awards and receiving honours is important. Individuals get to celebrate their achievements and contribution in a very public way.

This is great for the individual and their family and friends, but also fantastic for the profession in terms of its profile and the difference it makes to people’s lives. It’s also very inspiring for others in the profession.

Part of the message in my Founders Lecture last year and the essence of our Physiotherapy Works campaign is for all of us to take responsibility for our profession and where it goes.

I would like to see a concerted effort by all of us to raise the profile of the profession by ensuring more physios win awards and receive honours.

Here are my thoughts on how.

  • Anyone can nominate anyone for an honour. Go to and find out how. Very few physios or support workers are ever nominated so it’s not surprising they rarely get through the process.
  • People win honours for going the extra mile, not for just doing their job!
  • Don’t just think about it as people come up to retirement. The process can take two years and honours can only be awarded within two years of retirement.

As for other awards, you have to make the effort to enter or nominate. How many times have you read about an award winner and thought you could have done better than them or your service was more worthwhile? The difference is that they entered and you didn’t, so go for it next time.

My tips?

  • Read the application carefully. Think about which category you are going to enter. Read the criteria to be sure it is right for you, your service, idea or innovation. Look for the buzzwords and make sure your application or entry uses them. Look back at past winners and see what was said about the winning entry.
  • Be succinct. Make sure your opening paragraph catches the imagination. Don’t use jargon or acronyms that might not be understood. Focus on the difference your initiative has made and use objective data to evidence what you are saying. Remember, a patient story or quote is ideal in order to bring your entry alive.
  • Talk money – how much have you or your service saved or will do? It’s all about outcomes delivered (the ‘so what?’ factor) not the intervention itself.
  • Don’t forget that you might be able to adapt the same application, entry or nomination for more than one award.

If you or your team or service are successful, you have a duty to publicise your success both locally and nationally – this is not a time for false modesty.

People need to hear about your success to give them inspiration and hope as well as to learn about innovation and best practice. So tell us at the CSP headquarters, tell your local newspaper and radio station and spread the word!

I have seen so many individuals and teams go on to even greater success as a result of being winners. Look out for the CSP awards later this year (and others).

Karen Middleton

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