Local health and care champions win national award

Healthwatch autism award 2017

A Crawley project has been recognised for its work over the last 12 months helping to improve the experiences of local NHS patients and social care users. 

Up against tough competition from across England in the ‘#ItStartsWithYou’ category, Healthwatch West Sussex Poundhill Medical Group and  Autism Support Crawley came out top for their nomination of Maria Cook, a local parent carer campaigning for improving services for children with autism spectrum disorders.

After years of stressful visits to the doctor Maria decided to take action. Working with Healthwatch West Sussex and her GP practice, they encouraged over 100 families to share their experiences and suggestions for improvements. 

Based on what people told them, the group created a five-step plan that GPs could follow to make a real difference to parents and children with autism.  

More than seven GP practices are already using the plan to make positive changes to the way they work with people with autism. 

These dedicated volunteers continue to give up their time to help train GPs in their area at no cost, to help make going to the doctor a better experience for other families. 

Category judge Lord Victor Adebowale, CEO of Turning Point and NHS England Board Member, said:

“I was impressed that from poor support to young people and their families in GP surgeries came something special which has transformed their experience and has helped other GP’s to think about how to engage young people with autism and Asperger’s. The fact that this was achieved with no cost but sheer passion is also stunning.”

The #ItStartsWithYou is a new award for 2017 and recognises an individual or group of people who have made a significant contribution to helping improve health and care services for their community. This is particularly special because we’re recognising the people who use their voices to help make change happen.