The heroic efforts of NSW healthcare workers who this year faced the challenges of bushfires, drought, floods and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have been recognised at the 2020 NSW Health Awards.

Minister for Health Brad Hazzard said the extraordinary circumstances of the past year made it more important than ever to acknowledge the achievements of healthcare workers in NSW.

“I extend my wholehearted gratitude to all of our health staff for their ongoing efforts during this immensely challenging time,” Mr Hazzard said.

“Every single year our health staff go above and beyond to save lives and provide patients with top level care. This year the challenges ramped right up – topped off with a one-in-one hundred year pandemic – and our staff showed remarkable resilience, meeting these challenges every step of the way.”

Among this year’s winners is an elite team of NSW Health Pathology researchers who established highly specialised COVID-19 testing capabilities at the onset of the pandemic.

The team of experts at the Institute of Clinical Pathology and Medical Research Westmead successfully grew the virus from NSW patients, a much needed step in understanding and containing the virus.

“Thanks to their efforts, we’ve now conducted more than three million COVID-19 tests – an unprecedented effort that has placed NSW among the highest testing rates per capita in the world, and helped us fight this deadly virus,” Mr Hazzard said.

This year’s finalists and winners were celebrated for the first time on digital and social channels rather than at an awards ceremony – in keeping with COVID safety.

There were 19 finalists from 14 statewide health entities competing for 10 award categories.

T​he NSW Health Awards recognise innovative and sustainable health programs that deliver better outcomes for patients and invest in the wellness of the NSW community.

The NSW Government has committed $800 million extra funding over two years on top of the 2019-20 Health Budget of $26.7 billion to help boost ICU capacity and purchase additional services and medical equipment, to respond to COVID-19.