Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust’s (LPT) confidential ChatHealth messaging platform is a finalist in an NHS England awards programme, to recognise excellence in health and care innovation, in the Innovation Spread category.

Initially developed in 2012, ChatHealth’s safe and secure technology and best practice has been rolled out across the Trust to enable service users in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland to reach healthcare professionals via confidential messaging.

LPT’s ChatHealth-powered healthcare messaging services include:

  • Healthy Together 0-19 (Health Visiting and School Nursing) ChatHealth, for young people aged 11-19 and Parentline for parents and carers of 0–19-year-olds
  • The Specialist Autism Team (SAT) ChatAutism offer, for anyone over the age of 14 who has an autism diagnosis
  • The Perinatal Mental Health offer, Mum’s Mind, for new and expectant mums
  • Central Access Point offer, ChatMentalHealth, for anyone needing mental health support
  • Musculoskeletal (MSK) Therapy service, which used mass messaging to contact waiting list referrals.

In recent years and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, interest in LPT’s ChatHealth innovation has grown nationwide. Around 70 other NHS Trusts and healthcare organisations have adopted the shared technology and best practice to implement ChatHealth-powered messaging services across their own localities.

Predominantly used in public health nursing services – 60% of school nursing teams and 35% of health visiting teams now offer ChatHealth services in the UK – its potential has further spread to different types of services such as:

  • Sexual health services in Wolverhampton, Bradford, Kirklees, Northamptonshire, Dorset and Lincolnshire
  • Mental Health Support Teams (MHSTs) offering mental health support for young people at selected schools in North Yorkshire, Gloucestershire and Bromley
  • Specialist care services for patients referred for treatment for children’s diabetes and dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT).

In 2021-2022, a combined total of 87,132 messaging conversations took place nationwide, between healthcare professionals and service users via ChatHealth. Feedback from service users is overwhelming positive, with them often saying how it’s a more convenient, comfortable and easier way to get help – and showing appreciation that messaging conversations can be carried out anonymously if preferred.

Angela Hillery, chief executive of LPT, said: “We are extremely proud of this innovation. ChatHealth has gone from strength to strength since it was developed by our teams in LPT, and it benefits children, young people and parents across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland due to its confidential, secure messaging platform to access expert clinicians. It has been particularly vital in supporting those who may not normally reach out for help in any other way. We would like to congratulate all the teams behind its success, including NHS Trusts across the country who have adopted ChatHealth to benefit more than six million people a year.”

Laura Serra, marketing manager for the Digital Health Transformation Service based at Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, the support team behind ChatHealth, said: “We are so proud that ChatHealth has been selected as a finalist for The Innovate Awards. We want to achieve recognition for the inspiring health teams who have adopted ChatHealth nationwide, making it easier for service users to reach local healthcare professionals to get advice and support. This was particularly invaluable during the COVID-19 pandemic, when we saw a greater level of interest in our digital products.

“It’s incredible to witness first-hand how tried and tested innovations can be utilised across different types of health services to meet the same goals and achieve positive change. We’re honoured to be building a strong community of digital health professionals who are committed and passionate about offering digital care for more convenient and easy access for service users.”

The Innovate Awards is a collaboration between the AHSN Network, which operates as the innovation arm of the NHS in England and acts as the collective voice of the 15 academic health science networks (AHSNs); and NHS Confederation, the membership body, representing healthcare in the UK. The Innovation Spread award category recognises innovations that have made the greatest impact and have been scaled and adopted widely and rapidly. Winners of the awards will be announced at a ceremony to be held on Thursday 29 September 2022.

Further information about ChatHealth and a list of ChatHealth messaging services ran by local NHS services, can be found at www.chathealth.nhs.uk