A portrait of a nurse who has worked in the NHS for nearly half a century is among the winning entries of a photography competition to celebrate 75 years of the health service.
Obe James, also known as ‘Mother Obe’, was photographed in her 47th year as an NHS nurse as part of the national competition run by NHS England and Fujifilm UK.
NHS staff and volunteers were invited to enter photographs that demonstrated what the health service means to them.
Ms James’ portrait, taken by fellow nurse Emmanuel Espiritu, was submitted with the title ‘Dedication’.
It depicts the nurse of 47 years, who currently works at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, stood in a dimly-lit ward corridor.
The photo won the Our People category, which aimed to celebrate individuals or teams who had “put their own unique stamp on the NHS over the years”.
The caption for Dedication read: “We call her ‘Mother Obe’. She started her career as a nurse at the age of 18 and for 47 years she’s been a dedicated role model and mentor to us all.”
The other four categories, Our Innovations, Our Environment, Our Care, and Our Partners, were also celebrations of the health service in its 75th year.
NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard said: “This competition has provided the perfect opportunity for our incredible staff and volunteers to give a snapshot of life in the NHS, 75 years on from its inception – and we were amazed by the hundreds of brilliant, thought-provoking and inspiring entries from NHS colleagues across the country.
“I want to offer my personal congratulations to the winners and everyone that took part – as we mark 75 years of the health service, your images will provide fantastic insight into life in our remarkable NHS throughout the exhibition and I cannot wait to see them in person.”
Senior pharmacist Wasim Baqir, of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, won Our Innovations for a photo taken on Christmas Eve 2020 which depicts several dozen used vaccine vials in an orange sharps bin.
At the time of the photograph, the Covid-19 vaccination programme had just begun in earnest; it celebrates the light at the end of the tunnel as 2020 came to a close.
Our Care was won by senior research nurse Ewa Gasior, from Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.
Ms Gasior’s black-and-white image shows several hands wrapped around what appears to be an older patient and was titled: “We’ve got you”.
Our Partners, a category to celebrate partnerships between the NHS and external charities and similar organisations, was won by Mary McConnell and Jenny Brodie.
The pair’s photograph depicts Flo, a freelance hairdresser, giving a cut and shave to patient Paul. Flo’s services are funded by the Royal Free Charity, a partner of Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust.
Paramedic Joe Cartwright, of South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, won Our Environment for a picture of an ambulance in South Devon battling through the snow of 2018’s Beast from the East storm.
The winning five pictures and the 70 others that were shortlisted will feature in an exhibition at the Fujifilm House of Photography in Covent Garden, London.
They will be available for public viewing from 5 July, which will mark 75 years to the day since the start of the NHS.
Tom Watanabe, managing director for Fujifilm UK, added: “As a proud partner to the NHS for many years, we are honoured to collaborate with them on this competition.
“We know from working with NHS colleagues up and down the country the passion they have for the health service, even in the most challenging of times, so we were delighted to help shine a spotlight on some of these fantastic stories.
“The exhibition will offer the public a unique opportunity to see what happens behind the scenes in our health service every day and it is a fitting way to mark 75 years of the NHS.”
Judges for the photography competition consisted of Dr Ellie Cannon, resident GP for This Morning; Victoria Macdonald, journalist; Lewis Khan, a photographer; Dame Ruth May, England chief nursing officer; Dr Habib Naqvi, chief executive of the NHS Race and Health Observatory; and Theo Georghiades, of Fujifilm.