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Healthwatch Cumbria receives highly commended recognition at national awards

Healthwatch Cumbria has been recognised as highly commended in the Giving People the Advice and Information They Need category at the 2019 Healthwatch England Network Awards.

Healthwatch Cumbria’s work on the NHS England Learning Disability Toolkit was recognised as ‘highly commended’ in the Giving People the Advice and Information They Need category.

The Project

As a part of Healthwatch Together, Cumbria Healthwatch worked with three other Healthwatch to ensure women with learning disabilities had access to quality information in an accessible format to help them make informed choices about screening opportunities.

Evidence shows that this cohort of women have a lower than average take up rate for cervical and breast cancer screening than women without learning disabilities.

Healthwatch Together undertook a series of co-production workshops across Lancashire and South Cumbria through various groups to establish:

the reasons why women with learning disabilities may not attend cancer screening appointments
how information on cancer screening programmes can be improved
how to encourage women with learning difficulties to attend appointments.

Two Easy Read Toolkits were produced:

  • ‘Me and my lady bits: an easy read guide to breast screening’
  • ‘Me and my lady bits: an easy read guide to cervical screening’

The Outcomes

  • Women with learning difficulties can now be supported to make informed choices about screening
  • professionals feel more confident about how to provide appropriate support
  • families and carers have the same information available including a section on useful prompts to encourage meaningful and helpful communication and a concertina version is being developed
  • The Toolkits are being used by: NHS England, Women and those who support them to uptake cancer screening programmes
  • GP practices and Health and Social Care providers.

The Awards

Every year, the Healthwatch Network Awards celebrate the many positive stories of how the local Healthwatch network is helping to make health and care services better for thousands of people. The awards are an opportunity to demonstrate where local Healthwatch worked within the local community to make sure health and social care services meet people’s needs.

Healthwatch listen to what people like about the NHS and social care and what needs to be improved. Their views are shared with health and care professionals, so that services can understand what people and their families want from care.

These awards recognise how people’s feedback is vital to improving services. Thanks to the many hundreds of thousands of people who shared their experiences with Healthwatch last year. This has led to positive changes to the way local health and care services are run.

The local Healthwatch shortlisted for 2019 Healthwatch Network Awards were picked from almost 150 award entries. The winner and the highly commended from each category were chosen by a panel of external judges and announced last night at the Healthwatch England Annual Conference on 1 October 2019.

David Blacklock – CEO of People First Independent Advocacy said: “We are extremely proud and grateful that our work has been recognised by the Healthwatch Network Awards. A testament to the power of collaboration, this award recognises not just the hard work of Healthwatch Cumbria but also our Healthwatch colleagues and the many community members who took part in our consultation groups.

The work that we have produced together has the potential to make a big difference to lives of many people. By making information clearer and more accessible, we can ensure that everyone has the opportunity to make informed decisions about their own health and wellbeing.”

Imelda Redmond, CBE, National Director of Healthwatch England said: “The Healthwatch Network Awards is a fantastic event which showcases the very best of local Healthwatch and it’s an opportunity for everyone to come together and celebrate the impact our teams and volunteers have in improving health and care across the country.

The awards demonstrate the breadth of issues local Healthwatch work on every year. Their work makes sure people’s experiences are placed at the heart of the services they receive.

I’d like to acknowledge and thank all the network and congratulate those who took part, they have done their communities proud.”

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