Expert patient shares her experience with Bradford clinical leaders

[caption id="attachment_1732" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Max Mclean, lay member for patient and public involvement at Bradford City CCG, hands out certificates to women on the EPP course."][/caption]

A self-help course for patients with long-term health conditions – funded by Bradford clinical commissioners at the request of patients – is helping local people manage their health and stay well and in control.

NHS Bradford City Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) was encouraged to commission the Expert Patient Programme (EPP) courses after hearing from local patient Zulfqar Hussain, who is now an EPP tutor. Following a heart attack, Zulfqar went on an EPP course and learnt how to stay well and manage his condition through lifestyle changes. 

He told Bradford City CCG’s governing body in 2012 how the course had made a real difference to many people’s lives by helping them to be healthy and learn more about their own health conditions and stress-relief techniques such as relaxation. Zulfqar’s experience led the CCG to commission a new round of courses to help even more patients in the City area.

Now a patient with a long-term health condition who has just completed one of the new courses will tell the CCG about the positive impact it has had on her life.

Rubina Ashfaq, who has diabetes, has been invited to the CCG’s governing body meeting on Wednesday (12 March) to share her experience.

Before she joined the course Rubina often found herself in a cycle of low moods and comfort eating, and then she had high sugar levels which made her feel worse. During the course she and other women learnt about healthy eating, portion size and relaxation techniques to help them manage their health problems better.

“I am really glad I joined and used to look forward to going,” said Rubina. “I had struggled with my diabetes and my doctor thought I would have to start taking insulin or my medicine would have to be increased.

“Afterwards my doctor was shocked at the difference – my sugar level was down and they have left my medication as it is. I am so glad I did this for myself and my family – it has had a positive impact on my whole family, friendships and my health.”

The course, which is delivered by patients, for patients, helps people learn more about how to manage their health condition and stay well and in control. It supports them to look after themselves, while living with a long-term condition including: diabetes, heart problems, asthma, depression, arthritis and epilepsy.

Max Mclean, lay member for patient and public involvement at Bradford City CCG, said the EPP was a great way for the CCG to help patients to be more in control of their health problems - and Rubina’s experience showed the very real benefits this approach had brought to local people.

“We know from patients how beneficial the EPP can be and that’s why wanted to fund these courses and provide some really practical support to our patients,” said Max.

“Rubina and other women who took part in the course are testimony to the positive impact it has had on their health, wellbeing and lives in general. This is a clear message from patients and exactly the type of information we need to hear about to help us make commissioning decisions for the future.”

So far two courses have been run, aimed at Asian women who are living with a variety of health conditions, with almost 50 women from the City area taking part. More courses are planned for this year focusing on mental health and diabetes.

Bradford City CCG’s governing body is holding its meeting in public on Wednesday 12 March at 1pm at Sharing Voices, 2 Clifton Villas, Bradford BD8 7BY. The agenda and associated papers are available on the CCG website: www.bradfordcityccg.nhs.uk

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Notes to editor

The Expert Patient Programme (EPP) is a nationally-recognised programme to support patients to improve their health and wellbeing by helping them gain confidence, skills and motivation to deal with their own health problems, in addition to other clinical and support services they may receive.