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Health Collaboration Awards 2016: The South West Hepatitis C Partnership

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The EFPIA Patient Think Tank established the Health Collaboration Awards in 2015, to share best practice in collaborative projects that address healthcare needs. Entrants include collaborations between patient organisations, industry, local authorities, healthcare systems and other key actors in delivering healthcare.

The winners of the 2016 edition of the Awards were announced at the Health Collaboration Summit, which took place on 9-10 November, in Brussels.

This week, we focus on the winner of The Innovation Award: The South West Hepatitis C Partnership.

Campaign Project

People who inject drugs are at high risk of contracting HCVThe Hepatitis C Trust, Addaction and AbbVie have pooled their skills to pilot a unique approach to supporting people with a history of injecting drugs, into HCV testing and treatment. A three-year pilot was rolled out across South West England, aiming to: identify what works best in empowering people to address HCV as part of their recovery journey; involve service users in testing the impact of peer education and buddying approaches; and upskill the Addaction team to confidently raise HCV issues with service users

The pilot initiative comprised three key interventions: peer-to-peer education, training former service users as peer educators, to deliver talks to high-risk groups designed to reduce stigma and present facts around risky behaviours, testing and treatment; buddying, by training volunteers to provide one-to-one support to people going through testing and treatment; workforce development, including one-day training courses delivered by experts seconded from The Hepatitis C Trust to improve Addaction key workers’ understanding of HCV.

Patient Benefit from the Project and How it Was Measured

Two independent evaluations were commissioned: an interim report for 2015, enabling partners to identify the elements securing most traction; and a final report due in late 2016. The peer-to-peer education programme, the pilot’s most successful segment, has reached almost 1100 people who use drugs or are in recovery – an average of 80 people each month. At least 85% of participants, when surveyed at the end of the talks, had taken in and retained all five key messages from the training and seven out of ten attendees felt that their knowledge of HCV had increased ‘a lot’ or ‘massively’.

Innovative Elements of the Project

The project challenged existing models of delivering support to people with or at risk of HCV, demonstrating innovation through providing support closer to people who need it – the traditional structure for healthcare services meant that support could be difficult to access and was delivered by healthcare professionals with whom service users had no established relationships. The pilot enabled people who inject drugs to receive support and advice from local drug and alcohol services, from peers with relatable lived experiences or from Addaction’s key workers, whom they trust. It also succeeded in harnessing the energies of former drug service users – as former users of drug services, the peer educators and buddies could relate to and understand the perspectives of current service users. The reliance on peer educators to deliver the key messages, rather than healthcare professionals or patient support groups, ensured greater cut through with the target groups.

Collaborative Elements of the Project

Project partners AbbVie, Addaction and The Hepatitis C Trust share an ambition to see hepatitis C eliminated in the UK. The partners each brought specific expertise to the creation and execution of the initiative. The pilot combined: The Hepatitis C Trust’s expertise in the virus; Addaction’s reach as a specialist drug service provider; and AbbVie’s knowledge of health and care systems. The partners worked with policy and communications consultancy Incisive Health to support the additional work to engage national and local stakeholders.

The project partners formalised their working relationships by putting in place a transparent contractual agreement. In line with the UK pharmaceutical industry standards, AbbVie’s support for the initiative has been clearly declared on all external materials relating to the pilot. To ensure input of all project partners could be fed into the annual planning and ongoing project management, regular meetings of the project partners were held with actions clearly minuted.

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