GENEROUS staff earning awards for their dedication to the NHS have donated their prize money to a vital cause to raise £1m appeal to transform cancer care for patients across County Durham.

Under the management of Alison McCree, the estates, facilities and procurement team at Darlington Memorial Hospital won both the Efficiency and improvement and Team of the Year categories of the annual national Health Estates and Facilities Management Association (HEFMA) awards. Ms McCree was also named Leader of the Year.

Between them, the group were handed £1,500 in prize money which they have chosen to give directly to fundraising for a centre of excellence in cancer care at the University Hospital of North Durham by 2020.

Last month, The Northern Echo launched its campaign to find the £1m needed to overhaul current facilities used by more and more people in a relatively small space.

The campaign marks the newspaper's 150th anniversary and has already seen generous donations provided by readers across the region.

Ms McCree said: “Winning in three categories at these prestigious awards demonstrates how impressive the quality of the team’s work is. Each category comes with a £500 prize and I was very touched when the team decided to donate their prize money to the appeal to expand the chemotherapy day unit at University Hospital of North Durham.

"For personal reasons, the day unit is dear to my heart and I had no hesitation in donating my own prize money too. I feel very fortunate to work with such generous people and am enormously proud of them."

She added: “There are 650 members of our team who are largely based behind the scenes in support roles, including porters, domestics, drivers, caterers, telephonists, purchasing and logistics staff, sterile services technicians, medical engineers and estates staff.

"Their skills and commitment are an essential part of delivering a safe clean environment to underpin excellent patient care in the right place at the right time. Each of these awards reflects the work done by the whole team.”

Many donations are made by fundraisers pledging their support via sponsorships to complete challenges such as the Great North Run or cold water swimming in the Lake District.

The Trust’s charity manager, Pat Chambers thanked all fundraisers and said: “Currently, patients have to sit very close to each other with very limited privacy and due to the lack of space, can only have a friend or relative with them during their first treatment session."

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