NHS England has recognised volunteers from across Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees for their efforts in improving NHS health services over the past three years, as part of the Community Health Ambassadors (CHA) project.
Over 40 volunteers have been supported to engage more than 650 patients and over 50 organisations to ensure all communities have a voice. The project aims to ensure that patients are treated with the utmost respect, dignity and compassion when receiving healthcare. In particular, the needs of the following groups have been listened to and acted upon:
- Trans community
- Deaf / hard of hearing community
- Blind community
- Those with epilepsy and other physical/learning disabilities
- Refugees and asylum seekers
- Mental Health service users
As a result, the CHA project was selected as one of nine schemes across the country to ‘share and celebrate patient and public involvement in improving healthcare’. This accolade comes after the project was also ‘Highly Commended’ at the North East Commissioning Support Awards in 2016 for ‘Excellence in Public Involvement’.
Nathan Duff, Health & Wellbeing Project Officer, Catalyst Stockton, said: “We are delighted that our volunteers have been recognised nationally as an example of best practice for all of their hard work and dedication over the years.
“It is vitally important that NHS services work closely with a range of patients to understand their needs, and we are very grateful to Hartlepool & Stockton-on-Tees Clinical Commissioning Group for giving us the opportunity to do just that.
“We’ve seen some real changes take place which will make a big difference to the lives of those who can sometimes be a little left behind. All thanks to the commitment, enthusiasm and passion of some amazing local people – both inside and outside of the NHS.”
Using the Community Grant from NHS England, the CHA team has created a short film and accompanying artwork to share their learning with other health services/organisations. They hope these real-life examples will be used to influence similar pieces of work for the benefit of patients across the UK. These will be shared during National Patient Participation Week (W/C Mon 10th June) in an online campaign to encourage others to involve communities in improving healthcare.