Published on: 20 February 2024

Two colleagues who go the extra mile to make hospital services run smoothly are heading for London after being shortlisted for national awards.

Today, Tuesday, February 20, Leah Torr will attend the National MyCleaning Awards after being nominated for the Newcomer of the Year title.

On Wednesday, Kim Fraser will find out if she has won the Leader of the Year category in the National MyPorter Awards. 

Both are run by GV Healthcare, which provides systems to help manage health facility services.

Leah and Kim work for CHoICE, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust and provides facilities management to its sites, and they are based at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

Leah and Kim.JPG

Leah Torr and Kim Fraser.

Wayne Carr, Director of CHoICE, said:

"I’m immensely proud of both Leah and Kim for their hard work which has quite rightly led to them being shortlisted for these national awards.

"They help their colleagues as they make a difference to patients and staff every day. CHoICE really is a team effort and they really do lead from the front."

Leah joined CHoICE last year as a Trainee Assistant Manager and before then she was a student at the University of Sunderland, where she studied education.

She then worked as a Housekeeping Supervisor in an Immigration Removal Centre and at Amazon as a cleaning supervisor, which also involved overseeing its waste and fork lift driving teams.

When she joined CHoICE, she became part of a short-staffed domestic management team, but has used her background to raise morale, bring the team together and find new and better ways of working.

She plays a big part in making new team members feel welcome and has created a training pack for those joining and ensures inclusivity across the board.

She has set up a weekly management drop in session, so the team can call in for a chat about anything they want to raise with a cuppa, as well as a general wellbeing check.

Another key area where she’s made a difference is the information around The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) so the domestic team have the details they need to hand.

The team say she’s also brought her IT and admin skills to the role.

Rachael Hutchinson, is CHoICE’s Deputy Head of Facilities.

She said:

"Leah’s colleagues describe her as a breath of fresh air, who has given them all a boost and a new excitement for their jobs again. 

"She has an excellent sense of humour, they all enjoy having a lively discussion and they work well together.

"Leah has a real positivity about her and a can do attitude. She is approachable, kind and has a willingness to work hard and to get things done. She actively participates in meetings and is not afraid to use her own initiative or ask for the support of her colleagues.

"Seeing the positive changes and the work Leah has implemented and achieved in her short time with us, the Newcomer of The Year nomination is very well deserved."

Kim started her NHS career in 2004. She has worked as a porter, then post room porter and has worked on the CHoICE portering helpdesk for a decade.

She has seen it go from using a pen and paper to handling more than 400 jobs each day using a computer system, coordinating and allocating jobs to the porters.

Her calm and composed approach means the service runs smoothly, helping patients get to where they need to be. She also plays a part in training newcomers and takes them under her wing as they learn the ropes.

Kim has helped showcase the system used by the helpdesk, supporting those from other NHS trusts get to grips with how it works. She takes the lead when it comes to collecting funds for others in the CHoICE team, as well as its own saving club.

Outside of work, Kim played for Sunderland Ladies Rugby Club for 12 years.

Her achievements have include completing the Yorkshire three peaks and the national three peaks, as well as successfully completing the York Marathon, Hadrian Wall Challenge and the Great North Run.  

As part of a group of fundraisers, she has taken part in the Run 4Louis, which supports the Sunderland-based charity as it works to help those who have experienced baby loss.
She’s also helped collect funds for St Benedict’s Hospice, with the group raising more than £9,000 for the cause. 

Next on her list is to help raise funds for a mountain rescue team, after her pointer puppy Franky fell 50ft down a waterfall ravine and was brought to safety by its volunteers.

Claire Dodds, Hotel Service Manager for CHoICE, said:

"Kim is the nucleus within the portering team. Not only does she have the hospital patients at the fore front of her mind, she also shows immense support for her fellow porters. 

"A colleague recalls when Kim allocated her a job, and Kim had an inkling that something was just not right. 

"She volunteered to go with the porter to assist. When they arrived the patient needed transporting urgently through the hospital grounds in a wheelchair, with her newborn baby in her arms and pushchair in tow. 

"Without Kim’s help this could have gone so wrong and delayed the patient’s treatment. Thankfully this was not the case and both the patient and porter were so grateful for her help. 

"When Kim is on duty, we have no worries. Everything runs like clockwork.  She is a star and a team player and doesn’t get angry or lose control – even when we bombard her with 100 queries. 

"Kim takes this all in her stride and I wouldn’t swap her for the world.

"Kim’s efforts not only benefit the entire portering department, but also set an example and inspire her co-workers to stay proactive. 

"Her willingness to assist others and her commitment to educating and supporting new staff is unequalled.

"She sees how effective teamwork makes a difference, notices when people need extra support and can be relied upon at all times. She notices when the team needs a boost and acts upon it with her unstinting enthusiasm.

"We are grateful for her every single day."