A North East council has received national recognition for its response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Durham County Council has been highly commended in two categories at the MJ Local Government Achievement Awards 2021. The awards celebrate the best in local public service and this year’s ceremony highlighted the work of councils across the country to overcome the ongoing challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

Durham County Council was one of only a handful of local authorities to make it down to the final few in the Digital Transformation Award. The judging panel was impressed by how the council accelerated the delivery of its digital strategy at an unprecedented pace. This ranged from adapting the way it communicates with its customers, to supporting staff to work remotely.

It also recognised the introduction of the award-winning Health Call Digital Care Home system, which allows care workers to digitally share the results of their resident observations, such as blood pressure and heart rates, with health professionals.

In addition to this, the council’s corporate management team was also highly commended in the Senior Leadership Team category. The judges recognised the team’s expertise and dedication in leading the authority through the pandemic, as well as its approach to empowering staff and implementing a major investment programme.

The leadership team’s commitment to community-focused ways of working, along with a nationally recognised approach to social value and partnership work, was also praised.

John Hewitt, interim chief executive of Durham County Council, said: “The last 18 months have been incredibly challenging for our communities and businesses and we have done everything in our power to support them through these difficult times while continuing to deliver essential services.

“I have been so proud of how staff across the council have risen to the challenge, quickly implementing and adapting to new digital ways of working and always remaining focused on providing the best possible service to the people of County Durham.

“On behalf of the council’s leadership team, I would like to express our delight at receiving this recognition and thank all Durham County Council staff for their hard work and commitment.”

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