6 December 2018


A campaign using the power of Rugby League to help reduce pressures on A&E departments has been named Best Primary Care Innovation at the 2018 HSJ Awards.

Beat the Scrum, which was part funded by the Innovation Agency, united Widnes Vikings, St Helens and Warrington Wolves players past and present in a series of educational videos.

The programme was commissioned by the Mid-Mersey A&E Delivery Board, a coalition of NHS organisations that deliver or support local accident and emergency departments. It has also been supported by Renova Developments, a specialist estates provider for the NHS.

The Beat the Scrum programme generated more than half a million online video views and extensive local, national and regional coverage, as well as being heavily showcased at Super League games.

This success follows the campaign winning the ‘Best Sponsorship’ accolade at the prestigious international Leaders Sports Awards in October, being selected ahead of programmes with the likes of Manchester United, the NFL and the LA Clippers.

Ann Marr, Chair of the Mid-Mersey A&E Delivery Board, said: “We are delighted that our ground-breaking Beat the Scrum campaign has been recognised by the HSJ.

“At times of growing demand, it is vital that our communities know how to choose the right services when they experience illnesses or injuries. Working with Widnes Vikings and embracing the local passion for has been hugely positive and resulted in the NHS successfully engaging with hundreds of thousands of local people.”

Innovation Agency Chief Executive Dr Liz Mear said: “This was a funny but informative set of videos, most memorably including rugby players in a coaching session or in a hospital corridor. They were a fantastic way of engaging attention for the serious purpose of educating people about using the most appropriate part of the health service – and not always attending A&E. I am absolutely delighted to be part of this winning team!”

James Rule, CEO of Widnes Vikings, said: “It’s been an honour for our club to lead a campaign that makes such a big difference to local NHS services and our communities. To know that this programme has not only been recognised as one of the best campaigns in the world of sport but also as a standout innovation in the healthcare sector is a real source of pride.”

HSJ editor, Alastair McLellan, said: “Congratulations to Beat the Scrum on winning the Primary Care Innovation Award in the face of stiff competition from other entrants. In this historic year for the NHS we were inundated with applications demonstrating continued determination to deliver first class healthcare, harnessing the latest innovations while ensuring value for money. Beat The Scrum impressed our judging panel with evidence of its commitment to excellence in healthcare.

“I hope that Beat the Scrum will be a source of inspiration for teams across the country as they seek to innovate and improve service provision.”

The videos can be viewed here.

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