A Healthwatch Essex Patient Partner has won a prestigious award recognising his outstanding contribution to cancer services in Essex.
Before he sadly died in May 2019, Mike got in touch with Healthwatch Essex because he wanted to ‘give something back’ and help improve cancer care for people in Mid and South Essex.
A former NHS Trust Director, Mike was too unwell to work but wanted to volunteer some of his time to Healthwatch Essex Cancer Patient Partner project, which helps to design new local services.
Last night, Thursday 26 September 2019, he was posthumously awarded a ‘Marvel of Mid Award’(MOMA), recognising a patient participant who had gone above and beyond in helping Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group.
The MOMAs celebrate the outstanding contributions of people, organisations, schools and community groups across Braintree, Chelmsford and Maldon who are making a difference and shaping future services.
Mike was particularly passionate about the need for greater support during treatment and improvements in communication. He also advocated strongly for patients to be treated as real people, often saying “Cancer is just one part of my life, not all of it!”.
By being open and honest about his own diagnosis, Mike encouraged others to take the opportunity to speak up about how services could better meet people’s needs.
The last contribution he made to the project before he passed away was to participate in a panel event during ‘Dying Matters’ week. Mike and his wife talked about the difficulty of preparing for end of life and the importance of being ‘ready’. This was shared across Essex during the awareness week to encourage more conversations about what people and their families need from end of life care.
Mike’s wife, Sarah Chapman, accepted the award for ‘Individual Patient Participant of the Year’ on Mike’s behalf at Chelmsford Civic Centre. Sarah said:
“I can’t express how delighted I am that Mike has won this award. He really cared about our NHS and wanted it to be the very best that it could be. He was so pleased to be a Cancer Patient Partner with Healthwatch Essex because it allowed him to continue to do work to shape health services even when he wasn’t well enough to work full-time.
“Of course, I wish he was here to celebrate with us, but I know that he will be looking down at us smiling tonight.
“Most importantly, each time Mike’s work is talked about it keeps his memory alive and his thoughts about how to make patient experience better for others who have cancer in Essex.”
Volunteer and Engagement Officer at Healthwatch Essex, Cheryl Huggins, said:
“Mike was a brilliant Patient Partner. He actively participated in as many activities as he was physically able to and we were so appreciative that he chose to give of his time in this way, even though his prognosis was not good.
“Even when it became apparent to him that time was very short, he wanted us to know that we could continue using everything that he shared about his experience to shape change for others, so that services continued to improve long after his time with us.
“I am so pleased that Mike has been recognised with a MOMA. His contribution was invaluable and his positive, enthusiastic approach has encouraged others to step up and share their story too, which further demonstrates what a truly inspirational man Mike was.”
A short film of Mike talking about his work as a Cancer Patient Partner can be found here.