They vaccinated and swabbed thousands of patients and staff throughout the pandemic.

And now the amazing efforts of the Infection Prevention and Control Team from East Coast Community Healthcare (ECCH) have been recognised as Team of the Year at the organisation’s staff awards event.

It was one of nine awards presented to pay tribute to staff of the social enterprise - which provides NHS community health services across Norfolk and Waveney - as a prestigious awards ceremony was held.

The team of four nurses and two administrative staff, with support from some agency staff, have swabbed more than 7,000 care home residents, seven boat crews and 1,000 factory workers since early 2020.

They also swabbed ECCH staff and fitted them for FFP3 masks, as well as offering the service to local GP and dental staff.

The team carried out blood tests on more than 900 NHS and care home staff to check for immunity and gave 4,000 hours of time to support the running of vaccination programmes at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, James Paget Hospital and the Old Law Courts vaccination centre in Lowestoft.

On presenting the award at the Ivy House Country Hotel in Oulton Broad, ECCH chief executive Ian Hutchison said: “All our staff deserve awards after the dedication they have shown in the past few years and it was almost impossible to single out winners but this team sums up everything ECCH stands for – it was a momentous effort on the frontline whilst still managing to cover business as usual - advising colleagues, GP surgeries and the public on infection prevention and control matters during such a challenging period.”

The Non-Clinical Team of the Year went to the Domestic and Catering Services team at Beccles Intermediate Care Centre.

These staff worked extremely long hours, split into two teams at the height of the pandemic – red for those working on Minsmere inpatient ward and green for those working in the rest of the building.

The award recognised the way they conscientiously ensured areas were always safe and clean, moved beds and equipment in order to ensure patients could be efficiently admitted and discharged and always had a smile and a friendly word to boost the morale of nursing colleagues and patients.

The award for Delivering Exceptional Care was given to Senior Clinical Pharmacist Hannah Lambert, for her compassion and dedication in a role which is integral to the care and safety of patients on Minsmere Ward, including insuring they have safe discharges from hospital.

The award for Innovation was shared between Head of Corporate Governance and Risk Management Hannah Lewis for her work to develop a new Record Keeping Training project and Great Yarmouth and Waveney Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Team for their recent service review which has resulted in patients being able to book appointments within three days, and has more than doubled the number of classes on offer to patients.

Communications and Engagement Officer Rosie Dunn won the Emerging Talent award for her design work on ECCH publications and Tissue Viability Nurse Specialist Jayne Jode was awarded the title of Inspirational Leader in recognition of her passion for improving patient care and her ability to bring out the best in her colleagues.

Rehabilitation Support Worker Corey Sturman received the Making a Difference award for his positive outlook and willingness to support colleagues on Minsmere Ward.

The Unsung Hero award went to Acting Financial Accountant Tina Atkinson who supported two elderly and frail neighbours with daily welfare visits and house-keeping help throughout the pandemic and to this day.

The Star of the Year Award was won by Occupational Therapist Olivia Brown, for her work within the Integrated Community Neurology Team and the chair’s award was presented by ECCH Chairman Tony Osmanski to Senior ICT Engineer Richard Fitzgerald for his work on a range of projects carried out for the organisation.

Tony Osmanski said: “It’s wonderful to be able to hold an event that recognises the efforts that all our staff make every day, whether they’re in clinical posts or office-based roles, to provide our communities with the high quality care they deserve.

"We haven’t been able to get together to hold these awards for two years so it was an extra special reason for celebration.”

All the finalists were nominated by their colleagues and shortlisted by ECCH’s Shareholder Council which represents the 77 per cent of staff who have opted to have a share in the organisation and, therefore, a say in how it is run.

Staff have also chosen the charities which will benefit from the sale of tickets for the event.

A total of £700 was raised which will be donated to local foodbanks.