17 June 2010

AWP clinician awarded OBE in Birthday Honours list

AWP is delighted to announce that one of its Swindon based clinicians has been awarded an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list for her work in developing a Primary Mental Health Care Service.

Dr Elizabeth Howells of Wootton Bassett discovered that she was to be given the prestigious commendation after Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust (AWP) nominated her in recognition of the way her work has benefited people in Swindon and beyond. The service model developed by Liz Howells has provided accessible and effective help for people experiencing common mental health issues and difficulties.

The service is highly regarded locally by patients, GP's who make referrals, other mental health services and agencies working locally. The Swindon Primary Mental Health Care Service set up by Liz in Swindon and rolled out to cover Wiltshire during the past 15 years has been recognised as a model of good practice nationally, and has influenced national strategy. The Service has introduced a number of innovative and socially inclusive approaches:

  • It was the first example in the UK of a LIFT - least intervention first time - approach in Primary Mental Health Care.  The resulting targeted Stepped Care Model has been adopted by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) Care Guidelines for a range of mental health disorders.
  • Accessible no wait service - from the outset the service was based on the principle of no waiting time - clients could book themselves into the next available slot immediately after a GP consultation.
  • Use of courses - the service uses a training approach, and runs a wide range of courses, often in the evenings, covering a range of common psychological problems and mental health issues.
  • Use of volunteers - clients who have themselves received help from the service are used to assist with courses, and with the running of the service.

AWP's Director of Psychology, Bill Jerrom, who supported the nomination said "In spite of all of her achievements Liz remains a very modest person; she was delighted but overwhelmed by our suggestion that she should be nominated for a national award!"

In response to the confirmation of the honour, Dr Howells said that she is delighted: "I received a letter three weeks ago telling me that I was to receive the OBE, although I don't see it as an award for myself but rather for my entire team of which I just happen to be the lead person.

"I hope more than anything that this award will be seen as a positive acknowledgement of the high quality mental health services which people receive in this area, and that it will raise the profile of the service."

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