DOCTORS are the beating heart of our NHS, but the finalists in our Doctor of the Year category have blown us away with the lengths they have gone to for their patients.
When we launched The Sun’s Who Cares Wins awards this year, sponsored by the National Lottery, and in partnership with NHS Charities Together, we had no idea just how many nominations we would receive for truly incredible doctors.
Meet our finalists up for best doctor at our Sun Health awards 2023
Our three finalists include a GP running a surgery for the homeless, a doctor who scrambled to pull together a team to save a young mum’s life after her heart failed, and a paediatrician who helped a little girl live a life her parents’ didn’t dare dream of.
The winner will be honoured at a star-studded awards ceremony hosted by Davina McCall and screened on Channel 4 and All 4 on September 24.
Here are our shortlisted Best Doctor nominees…
DR STEVEN SHAW
Best Doctor nominee Dr Steven Shaw who saved the life of mum-of-two Amber HughesCredit: PP.
WITH her youngest child only a few months old, Amber Hughes put her exhaustion down to being a busy mum-of-two.
But, after collapsing at home last July, she was rushed to hospital, where she was diagnosed with multiple organ failure due to cardiogenic shock – where the heart muscle has been badly damaged and can no longer pump blood around the body.
Amber, 29, from Wrexham, was minutes from death when she arrived at Wythenshawe Hospital, Manchester.
But thanks to Dr Steven Shaw, Amber was well enough to be discharged from hospital and get home to her young children just a month later, after he directed a team of medics to save Amber’s life and fit her with an artificial heart.
Amber, who is mum to Elliot, three, and Eva, 17 months, said: “I didn’t know at the time, but my heart muscles were dying, so all my other organs – my kidneys, liver and lungs, were failing too.”
The young mum was rushed into open heart surgery where she was so poorly that Dr Shaw and his team left her chest open for two days while they stabilised her.
Dr Shaw said: “What Amber went through is incredibly harrowing; she was as poorly as it’s possible to get.
“What happened was extremely rare and she is so fortunate to have survived.
“She had a less than 50 per cent chance of survival and we had to hold our nerve and wait to see if she’d start to recover on her own post surgery.”
Amber was sedated for 13 days after her operation and Dr Shaw was there when she woke up.
He said: “We’d try to bring her out of sedation, but she was incredibly confused and upset.
“She had the tubes coming out of her from the artificial heart and she was understandably distraught.
“It took a lot of time and explaining to calm her down and tell what had happened.”
Despite being prepared for several organ transplant lists including heart, liver, lungs and kidney, miraculously Amber was discharged from hospital a month after nearly dying.
Amber said: “I simply wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Dr Shaw.
“He held his nerve, was in charge of all my treatment and surgical decisions and he returned a mum to her family.
“I’ll never, ever be able to thank him for giving me my life back. He was tireless in his dedication.”
Dr Shaw added: “After everything Amber has been through, for her to even think of a nomination is really special, but I’m just part of a team.
“There were a lot of us rallying and trying to save her – from her surgeons to her physiotherapists, they all made sure Amber could get home to her children.”
DR NICOLA CABLE
Dr Nicola Cable (l) has been nominated for a Sun Who Cares Wins award in the Best Doctor category, by Evie and her mum KerryCredit: Dave Nelson
SECONDS after Kerry Coles gave birth, her little girl stopped breathing and doctors pronounced her brain dead.
Baby Evie was put on a life support machine so devastated parents Kerry, 40, and Jack, 29, could say goodbye.
But thanks to the heroic efforts of Dr Nicola Cable, Evie is now a thriving three year old.
Evie was born with hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy in January 2020, meaning she had suffered a lack of oxygen to the brain.
Incredibly, Evie defied everyone’s expectations and started breathing on her own, but her condition meant she was not expected to be able to reach typical milestones, and would even struggle to stand and sit.
But thanks to Dr Cable’s determination to help Evie fulfil her potential and three years of hard work, she has finally been discharged from her care, and is a happy and healthy little girl.
Kerry, from Blackpool, said: “Not once did Dr Cable ever stop pushing.
“Not once did she say to us, ‘It’s as good as it’s going to get,’. She was so determined to do her best with Evie.
“She’s an incredible doctor and Evie definitely wouldn’t be where she is without her.”
Evie was just four weeks old when the family met Dr Cable and the hard work started to get her better.
Kerry added: “Evie was so poorly, we thought we’d lose her several times when she was tiny, but fortunately she rallied.”
While little Evie couldn’t sit, she also failed a lot of medical assessments such as cognitive, coordination and missed milestones, but Dr Cable was determined to make Evie’s journey as successful as possible.
Kerry said: “There were so many appointments, but Dr Cable was there every step.
“She gave Evie a special medical chair with a strengthened back for her core.
“She had the idea of splints and a standing frame to help Evie when she couldn’t stand.
“Evie had such a tough first year, but Dr Cable was so determined.”
Dr Cable, who is Head of Paediatrics at Blackpool’s Blenheim House Child Development Centre, is so impressive she’s received two nominations – both from Kerry, and her colleague, specialist nurse practitioner Angela Richardson.
Angela said: “Dr Cable really is one in a million.
“She works tirelessly and relentlessly, giving a significant amount of her own time to keep the child development centre running.”
Despite her tireless work, Dr Cable was left stunned by the double nomination.
She said: “I can’t believe it. I love my job. It can be difficult but it’s incredibly rewarding too.
“But Evie is the perfect example of what a child can achieve when they’re clinically supported.
“It does bring a tear to your eye.
“My job is about helping children reach their developmental potential, whatever that is.
“When you see a non verbal child start communicating, it’s an incredible feeling.
“When a child who has never reached for a toy starts engaging, it’s wonderful.”
DR MIKE TAYLOR
Best doctor nominee Dr Mike Taylor helps homeless people as a community GPCredit: Adrian Sherratt
GROWING up, Dr Mike Taylor dreamed of becoming a community GP, but his days at work are far from ordinary.
He runs one of the UK’s only surgeries specifically for the homeless, and looks after more than 600 patients at the Homeless Health Service in Stokes Croft, Bristol.
Despite specific NHS legislation, it is very difficult for homeless people to register at regular GP surgeries.
The vast majority are not registered, despite life expectancy for those living on the streets being just 45 for men, and 43 for women.
But all homeless patients are welcome at Dr Taylor’s surgery, and he’s helped improve the lives of hundreds of them.
Dr Taylor, who has been a GP for 35 years, said: “Studies upon studies show the richer you are, the better treatment you get and the poorer you are, the worse your outcomes – it shouldn’t be that way.
“The very poorest in society need the most help and the health inequalities in this country need to change.
“Many of our patients were born to drug or alcohol addicted mothers.
“Many more will have epilepsy, brain injury, ADHD or Asperger’s, or cognitive impairment from alcohol dependency.
“They often do not have the mental capacity to keep appointments or to remember to take medicines.
“That’s why all our clinics are drop-in, with no appointments required.
“We can’t always get the patients we see out of addiction, and we’d be foolish to think we can, but it’s about making their journey a little better.
“They need to know there are people who really do care and will carry on working with them regardless.
“If we can get sex workers who are homeless to have their smear tests done, we’re happy.
“If we can get patients with leg ulcers in to have their dressings changed, it’s a step in the right direction.”
When the programme started six years ago, there were 60 patients on the books – but thanks to the hard work of Dr Taylor, more than 600 homeless people are now under their care.
He was nominated by practice manager, Dixine Douis, 59, who says their workload is unlike any other surgery in the country.
Dixine said: “There are so many barriers and hurdles to homeless people accessing adequate healthcare.
“It’s not been easy, but Mike has been pivotal.
“The Homeless Health Service now has a podiatrist, a dental hygienist, a dietician and a counselling service.
“This work couldn’t have been done without Mike’s leadership and commitment to the cause.”
Dr Taylor, 62, added: “It’s all about trying to give our patients respect and dignity; a sense their lives matter.
“Every day I try to help patients see that recovery is an option, and that there is hope, however faint and difficult to grasp.
“Our patients are valued and deserve as much health and social care as the next person.
“I’ve always wanted to be a community GP.
“I’m so glad I work with the homeless and I’m very fortunate to serve alongside such a wonderful team.”