Women’s Health Network – a patient engagement case study – transcript

Victoria Simmons, head of patient engagement, NHS Bradford district and Craven CCGs

“The women’s health network helps us to keep the strong relationship we need with women in our local communities. Especially women who are from vulnerable groups or from disadvantaged backgrounds to try and really understand their lives and what we can do as health commissioners to make a difference to them.”

Ingrid Dzerins, member of the Women’s Health Network

“I worked for a long time for InCommunities which is a big housing association in Bradford. So as part of the equalities group, big organisations were being invited to the initial meetings for setting up the network. So I went along to the first meeting and workshop to work out how we were going to develop them. There was a good mix of people involved. It didn’t take up a huge amount of time and was relevant to what I was interested in. It was a nice bunch of people, a nice mix of professionals, voluntary sector and independent.

“The community engagement officer came along, she’s a member of the network, and she asked if women wanted to go and train to go and be on the radio. They wanted more women’s voices and particularly to be part of a programme to be called radio Venus which specifically looks at women’s issues. So a little light bulb went on and I thought that we could bring some of our issues from the network and do something on the radio about them.

“One of the very first programmes I was involved in dealt with ‘why don’t women go for screening?’, ‘why don’t they do it?’. We had a talk show about that and more recently we have done a full programme where we took somebody from the radio station for their first mammogram. We even interviewed her during the procedure so she was able to say what it felt like. We were able to interview the nurses, so that was a full workshop.

“The Talk Cancer workshops, they are still ongoing, so if people get the opportunity to go, please go because they are brilliant. The nurses are so knowledgeable but also so down to earth. It is engaging, it’s half a day. You learn about the different screenings that people are asked to take up, what happens during screening.

“That very night in a conversation with my daughter and a friend who that following day was supposed to be going for cervical screening. She was saying that she wasn’t going to go, and I said ‘no you must go’. We had quite a long conversation and really it was fear of just putting a foot over the doorway. She didn’t think it would be painful. It was fear of the unknown, that’s what it was. And I am really pleased to say that she went because of that conversation we had.”

Michelle Taylor, co-chair, Women’s Health Network

“With People Can, Women’s Health Network and Positive Minds, we did an older people’s mental health event for self-care week. It creates an open space where everyone is equal. It doesn’t matter what your position is, we all need the same things, we all need that safe space to talk. The women that we represented at the time wanted to be heard as well as to listen, and the CCGs were happy to do that.”

Victoria Simmons, head of patient engagement, NHS Bradford district and Craven CCGs

“I think the Women’s Health Network is a good example of where we have sewn a seed and created the conditions where something can thrive, So the Women’s Health Network now is really vibrant, there is loads going on, they are developing their own ideas and taking forward their own initiatives. So it is really real and vibrant network, not just something that serves us as a CCG, it is something that serves the women themselves.”

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