19 November 2021

Patient and Public Involvement team Debbie Parkinson and David Dewhurst with volunteer Wendy Westoby receive their award from HSJ Awards presenter and comic Sue Perkins.

An innovative partnership which has led to the creation of a network of volunteers recruited to prevent strokes has won a prestigious national award. The Atrial Fibrillation Ambassadors in the Community project was named Provider Collaboration of the Year in the Health Service Journal annual awards held last night (Thursday 18 November.)

The AF Ambassador role was created by the Innovation Agency in partnership with the Stroke Association to prevent strokes – saving lives and avoiding life-changing disabilities. Using portable ECG devices to identify people who may have atrial fibrillation (AF) – an irregular heartbeat which can lead to a life-threatening stroke - volunteers were recruited to help spot friends, colleagues and relatives at particular risk.  

Patient and Public Involvement Manager Debbie Parkinson (left) with volunteer Wendy Westoby at work in the community.

Work alongside Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital, Liverpool University Hospitals and Primary Care Knowsley to help asthma patients underway in Knowsley.

It is estimated that in the North West Coast region there are over 20,000 people who have AF. The initiative is predicting to identify over 1,000 new cases of atrial fibrillation during the initial two year campaign which could prevent up to 34 strokes and save more than £750,000 in associated health care costs.

Phil Jennings, chief executive of the Innovation Agency, said: "This is a fantastic achievement and richly deserved. It’s great to see this team who have worked relentlessly often in their own time to receive recognition - well done!"

The Innovation Agency-led work to proactively manage patients with asthma in Knowsley was also shortlisted in the Primary Care Innovation of the Year category which was won by a palliative care phone service operated in Cambridgeshire.

Comedian and presenter Sue Perkins, along with HSJ editor Alastair McLellan, announced the winners of 23 categories at the culmination of a process that had involved two judging stages,136 judges and 1,008 entries.

A total of 204 finalist projects were in contention in categories spanning the healthcare experience, including acute care, mental health, digital, race equality, freedom to speak up and many more.

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