Healthwatch Essex receives highly commended recognition at national awards

We are pleased to announce Healthwatch Essex has been recognised as highly commended in the ‘Outstanding individuals who’ve made a difference’ category at the 2019 Healthwatch Network Awards.

Mike Chapman with his wife, Sarah.

Mike Chapman, who volunteered with Healthwatch Essex as a Patient Partner, was recognised for his outstanding contribution to cancer services in Mid Essex.

A former NHS Trust Director, Mike sadly passed away in May. He expressed a wish to give something back and share his experience of cancer services to help improve the pathways for future patients and their families in Mid and South Essex. His role as a Cancer Patient Partner allowed him to have input into the design and improvement of local services.

Mike was passionate about the need for greater support during treatment and improvements in communication. Healthwatch Essex Patient Partners placed focus on questions raised by the National Cancer Experience Survey, ensuring work could be taken forward to address issues which scored lowly.

Whilst sat in a discussion group at Broomfield Hospital, Mike drew particular focus on the question, “did you feel supported throughout your treatment?”. He was a strong advocate for patients to be treated as real people, often saying “cancer is just one part of my life, not all of it!”. As a result, the hospital is looking into the emotional impact for patients in their future action plans.

Despite his diagnosis, Mike dedicated a great deal of his time to the project in the hope that NHS services can be influenced positively. His final participation in the project was sitting on a podcast panel for ‘Dying Matters Week’, where he was joined by his wife and both spoke emotively about the difficulty of preparing for end of life and the importance of being ‘ready’.

A short film of Mike talking about his work as a Cancer Patient Partner at Healthwatch Essex can be viewed here. His commitment paves the way for more people to come forward with their stories and share their healthcare experiences with us as ambassadors.

Every year, the Healthwatch Network Awards celebrate the many positive stories of how the local Healthwatch network is helping to make care better for thousands of people. The awards are an opportunity to demonstrate where 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.

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

Healthwatch Essex CEO, David Sollis said:

We are delighted that Mike Chapman, our cancer patient partner, has been recognised at the annual Healthwatch England awards. Mike was highly praised for his impact on ensuring that Lived Experience is at the heart of health and social care in Essex. Patient Partners are the ‘here and now’. Our Ambassador programme is an essential element in co-production. Having the patient voice at the heart of the decision-making process allows providers to hear the unmet needs of those with direct experience of specific health and care services.”

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.

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 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 of the network and congratulate those who took part – they have done their communities proud.”