Sheila and Wendy win prestigious national award for Healthwatch Northamptonshire

Two of our dedicated volunteers who made an amazing 43 trips to inspect 36 wards and departments in a year at Kettering General Hospital have won Healthwatch Northamptonshire a national award.
Healthwatch Northamptonshire volunteers Sheila White and Wendy Patel outside KGH Trust Headquarters

Sheila White and Wendy Patel won the ‘Celebrating our volunteer team’ category in the Healthwatch Awards 2020, which were run by Healthwatch England during Healthwatch week (2 - 6 November). 

They have been praised by Healthwatch Northamptonshire and Kettering General Hospital for their dedication to patient care and for the many improvements for patients their visits have resulted in.

Sheila and Wendy have both volunteered for Healthwatch since it was set up in 2013 and were involved in local patient experience groups and forums for over a decade before.

“Thanks to the dedication of Healthwatch Northamptonshire’s volunteers, many improvements have been made at Kettering General Hospital, such as the introduction of a priority seating area in A&E, improvements to health and safety and patient dignity and a place for patients to give immediate feedback about their care.

“As part of their work, the volunteers also developed their own ‘15 steps’ programme for conducting these types of visits, which is now used to train other Healthwatch volunteers.

“This was a fantastic piece of work which highlights how crucial our wonderful volunteers are to Healthwatch and I would like to thank Sheila and Wendy for their dedication to making local patients’ experiences of hospital care better.” 

- Sir Robert Francis QC, Chair of Healthwatch England

“Wendy and Sheila provided me with invaluable insights into the experiences of patients and staff at KGH. They possess a continuous drive and a passion for quality improvement and both have been very active members of a number of our working groups. From their insights and contributions I have remained grounded and open to hearing about and acting on the right things. I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks and congratulations to them both.”
—  Leanne Hackshall, Kettering General Hospital’s Director of Nursing and Quality

Healthwatch Northamptonshire was one of only three local Healthwatch branches to win an award out of 152 across England during a virtual event celebrating the difference Healthwatch’s 4,400 staff and volunteers have made over the past year.

Wendy and Sheila visits involve speaking to staff, patients and visitors and they make sure everyone’s views are heard - including those who are visually impaired or for whom English is not their first language.

As a result of their work, the hospital develops action plans to address the issues raised and the volunteers then revisited the hospital to check these actions have been taken.

Sheila said:

“Although we have a formal structure for our visits, I think it is also important to look at healthcare from the patients’ point of view. When we speak to patients directly, we often find they tell us about concerns they are reluctant to share with staff. By suggesting that they do share these concerns the situation can often be improved in a quick and friendly manner.

“I really enjoy this work and love to see how our interactions end up making a difference.”

Wendy said:

“We use an innovative 15 step challenge system to carry out our visits which is a structured way of making these kinds of walk-around visits very effective.

“We have been very pleased with the results and we are both delighted that our work has been recognised by Healthwatch at a national level.”

“Wendy and Sheila are fantastic examples of our hard-working and dedicated Healthwatch Northamptonshire volunteers and we are thrilled that their work has received national recognition. They have demonstrated the importance of working with one organisation over a period of time with patience and dedication and then seeing the reward of their work being turned into positive changes for patients.”
— Kate Holt, Healthwatch Northamptonshire Chief Executive

Read the summary report of their 2019-20 visits 

Wendy and Sheila visited wards and departments at Kettering General Hospital 43 times between April 2019 to March 2020 to provide the hospital with feedback using the 15 Steps Challenge tool. Their findings have been summarised into a report.

View the report

Share your thoughts

You can help make health and care services better by sharing your experiences and ideas.

Talk to us