STAFF and volunteers from the National Health Service (NHS) were put centre stage as part of the institution's 70th birthday celebrations last week.

Cumbria Health on Call (CHoC) was honoured in parliament as a part of a special, one-off competition to mark the milestone.

The NHS70 Parliamentary Awards were launched in February to recognise the massive contribution made by the individuals who work in and alongside the NHS.

The service was nominated by Tim Farron, John Stevenson, Trudy Harrison, Rory Stewart and Sue Hayman, MPs across Cumbria, in the Excellence in Primary Care category.

Susan Blakemore, chief executive and Hannah Mason, executive director of operations, collected the award on behalf of the organisation.

Susan said: “We are delighted to receive Parliamentary Award for Excellence in Primary Care, it is an amazing achievement which recognises the hard work and dedication of the whole CHoC team who provide outstanding and responsive care to the population of Cumbria.

"This is a fantastic accolade to the NHS here in Cumbria, both within CHoC and all of our partner organisations. We recognise that everyone matters, both those who use our services and those who are part of delivering them.”

And last week, the Bishop of Carlisle paid tribute to the work of NHS staff across the country.

The Rt Rev’d James Newcome – the Church of England’s lead bishop for health and social care – was in London for a special service in Westminster Abbey, marking the milestone birthday.

Among those also present was HRH The Countess of Wessex, the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt MP, and Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England.

Bishop James said: “It’s a tremendous privilege and pleasure for me to wish the NHS a very happy birthday on its 70th anniversary. We are all conscious of the wonderful work which has gone on over those seven decades.

“This is a day for celebration but it also marks an opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to the 1.4 million people who work so tirelessly for the NHS. ‘Thank you’ for the wonderful work you are involved in.”

He also spoke in a Parliamentary debate tabled by Lord Darzi of Denham noting the creation of the National Health Service in 1948, and the case for integration of health, mental health, social and community care to equip the National Health Service for the next 70 years.

“This is not only a question of having enough money; another important issue is the integration of health, social care and public health, with particular focus on the need to look at the slightly unequal outcomes currently for those people experiencing mental health problems and those without," he said.

Wider celebrations to mark the NHS’s big birthday included thousands of NHS Big 7Tea parties to raise money for NHS charities.

And dozens of landmark buildings, including Kendal Castle, Kendal Parish Church, Silverdale and Bolton-le-Sands libraries, were lit up in blue to mark the occasion.