Close this search box.

The unsung local hero who helped Manchester through its darkest hours

Stephen Playfor is a Manchester hero.

A children’s doctor who has steered people through both a tragedy and the pandemic with unwavering dedication has been recognised for his amazing work in the city.

From tending to victims of the Manchester Arena attack to leading during the COVID-19 crisis, his lifetime of helping others has earned him an illustrious Lifetime Achievement award.

Professor Stephen Playfor – Manchester Hero

Greater Manchester Health and Care Champions Awards

The honour was conferred upon him at the Greater Manchester Health and Care Champions Awards, a significant event held at the illustrious National Football Museum in front of Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham.

The event took place on July 13.

At the age of 55, Professor Playfor has amassed commendations for his relentless commitment to advancing high-quality services for critically ill children.

His contributions span his devotion to patients and colleagues, as well as groundbreaking research in the realm of critical care that has effectively saved lives across the nation.

Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital

Professor Playfor, who has worked at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital since 2002, said: “It’s obviously very flattering to be recognised in this way.

“It really summarised all the medicine I’ve been doing since joining the department.

“But my work relies on team efforts comprising a couple of hundred individuals from nurses to doctors, the physios and bereavement staff along with all of the specialities. This is a thank you to them too.”

Dealing with the Aftermatch of the Manchester Arena Attack

During the distressing aftermath of the Manchester Arena attack, Professor Playfor assumed the helm of the pediatric intensive care unit.

Leading his team, he provided unwavering care to the young victims and supported the most critically afflicted patients, some of whom required weeks of hospitalisation.

The strategies forged by his team during this challenging period were subsequently incorporated into guidelines adopted by NHS England, intended for future application during significant incidents.

He added: “The other major thing in the fall out of the event was to have some provision made for the wellbeing of the staff involved.

“Because of previous work we’d done with clinical psychologists in the UK, we were able to put together a self-help package for staff to monitor their own well-being in the following months.  As a result, we were able to employ full-time psychology support for critical care staff.”

He also played a key role during the first wave of the COVID pandemic when it became clear adult services were going to be overwhelmed.

In response, The Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital’s paediatric intensive care unit was turned into an adult intensive care unit to support patients with severe cases of COVID.

“It worked very well. But it was a unique undertaking as we had to start operating between different groups of clinicians and units. It was challenging to find out how we could deliver the greatest care, to the greatest number.

“There was a very large multi-disciplinary team involved in finding a way through everything to help care for patients.

“In the following months, we had to do the same again, but were able to maintain the service and capacity, with good outcomes for patients.”

Professor Playfor says his career is far from over and he’s been looking at the future: “There’s always a new project to chase and I will continue to innovate and improve the care of children, not only in Manchester but in other parts of the UK.

“For me the most incredibly rewarding part of my job is when the children I treat get better.

“But again, this is reflective of the work of the whole team in paediatric care and not just me.”

I’m sure you’ll join all of us at I Love Manchester in congratulating Professor Stephen Playfor for his amazing contributions to the city, and for his help in keeping us healthy and safe.

Did we miss something? Let us know: [email protected]

Want to be the first to receive all the latest news stories, what’s on and events from the heart of Manchester? Sign up here.


Manchester is a successful city, but there are many people that suffer. The I Love MCR Foundation helps raise vital funds to help improve the lives and prospects of people and communities across Greater Manchester – and we can’t do it without your help. So please donate or fundraise what you can because investing in your local community to help it thrive can be a massively rewarding experience. Thank you in advance!

Got a story worth sharing?

What’s the story? We are all ears when it comes to positive news and inspiring stories. You can send story ideas to [email protected]

Close this search box.