Rugby League campaign wins top health award

A unique campaign that uses the power of rugby league to help tackle the pressures faced by the NHS has been named as the Best Primary Care Innovation at the 2018 HSJ Awards.

The HSJ (Health Service Journal) Awards are the world’s largest healthcare awards ceremony. The campaign was also shortlisted in the Best Acute Care Innovation category at the event, which took place at the Intercontinental, O2, in London.

Beat The Scrum sees past and present Widnes Vikings stars, and legends of St Helens and Warrington Wolves, unite to help educate the public on how to choose the right services when they are injured or ill, and offer advice on staying well. The programme has been 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.

With the Beat The Scrum programme generating 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 and the Magic Weekend fixture event at St James’ Park in Newcastle, it has given the NHS an important platform to engage with the public.

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 Rugby League has been hugely positive and resulted in the NHS successfully engaging with hundreds of thousands of local people.”

James Rule, CEO of Widnes Vikings, says: “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 world of sport but also as a standout innovation in the healthcare sector is a real source of pride. Special congratulations must be given to the Mid-Mersey A&E Delivery Board and Renova Developments for their vision in commissioning this campaign.”

Ian Willett, General Manager of Renova Developments, says: “Rugby League is a massive part of the local culture in the north west of England. Partnering with Widnes Vikings has proven to be an innovative way to reach a big audience and one that is highly localised – ideally so for promoting locally relevant messages such as raising awareness of local Urgent Care services. The Beat The Scrum campaign has generated a tremendous amount of exposure and is a highly innovative partnership. I am incredibly proud that Renova has been able to support this initiative. To be recognised at the HSJ awards is a great honour.”

HSJ editor, Alastair McLellan, says: “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.”


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