Workers pick up a healthy clutch of awards

HEALTH workers in Northumberland are celebrating a string of awards successes.

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has gained national recognition in the Patient Experience Network (PEN) awards for its stroke volunteer support programme.

And Northumberland Care Trust’s nurse-led coil fitting team won the innovation category at the North East Sexual Health Awards.

Nurse-led services are cost-effective and popular, but historically the fitting of IUTs (intra uterine techniques) has remained with doctors.

Officials in Northumberland identified that there were not enough doctors to provide equity of access so they develop a trained team of nurses able to provide the service. It could then be expanded to provide more appointments in more settings, and the model could be shared with other areas.

NHS North of Tyne public health specialist for sexual health Judith Stonebridge said: “Congratulations go to all staff involved.

“We constantly strive to offer a better service to patients and this award is in recognition of the sexual health workers who have reached out to a community and given them a voice and information at their finger tips.”

Northumbria Healthcare’s success came after it developed a programme to train volunteers who have either suffered a stroke themselves or care for someone who has had a stroke to visit newly diagnosed patients and their families.

So far, 23 trained volunteers have provided more than 400 support visits.

Judges said the initiative gives patients real power and puts them at the heart of care.

Support worker Becki Sowerby, who suffered a stroke 14 years ago at the age of 29, said: “This really is a great project and everybody involved in it deserves this recognition.

“My role involves speaking to people on the wards who, like me, have had a stroke and want to talk to someone who understands what they’re going through.

“It really does make a difference to patients feeling better about themselves.”

The trust, which manages hospitals in Northumberland and North Tyneside, was also shortlisted for its work measuring, reporting and acting on patient feedback about care.

And it took third place for its efforts in personalising care for diabetes patients.

Director of Patient Experience Annie Laverty said: “We’re really proud that we’ve been nationally recognised for all the work we have been doing to make sure our patients have exceptional care when they’re with us.

“Good patient experience is vital to providing good quality healthcare.”