Friday, 11 June 2010

Health watchdog chair in line for national award

The chairman of Leeds City Council’s health watchdog has been shortlisted for a national award for his work giving communities a voice to influence the city’s decision makers.

Councillor Mark Dobson, chair of the health scrutiny board, has made it to the last three in the Practitioner of the Year category at this year’s Good Scrutiny Awards, run by the Centre for Public Scrutiny.

As chair, Cllr Dobson has led a number of major investigations into health issues of local, regional and national significance. The awards recognise the work Cllr Dobson has done to deliver profound changes to local health services in a short amount of time, including a significant improvement in the relationship between scrutiny, the local NHS and the strategic health authority.

The entries were shortlisted by an expert panel of judges who recognised Cllr Dobson’s leadership skills and ability to involve patients and their representatives at all stages of investigations. Under Cllr Dobson’s leadership the board used the evidence gathered to argue robustly for significant improvements to local health services whilst building and maintaining positive working relationships with NHS trusts in the area.

Cllr Dobson’s nomination was further boosted by letters of support from organisations the scrutiny board worked closely with on recent investigations into plans to close the kidney dialysis unit at Leeds General Infirmary and changes to a dermatology ward.

He will discover if he’s been successful at a gala dinner and awards ceremony being held on Wednesday 30 June in London.

Councillor Mark Dobson, chair of the health scrutiny board said:
“I’m please the nomination had so many letters of support from the organisations we‘ve worked closely with as it proves that when scrutiny is done well it can really impact on patients’ lives in a positive way.

“Being shortlisted is great recognition for the great work the whole panel and advisers have done to create real, positive changes to health services in the city.”

Letters of support were received from:
St. James Kidney Patients Association
British Association of Dermatologists
NHS Leeds
Leeds Dermatology Patient Panel
LGI Kidney Patients

For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713

The Shared Lives scheme needs you!

People in Leeds who provide unpaid care for those who are ill, frail, or have disabilities are, quite literally, indispensable.

In the United Kingdom, unpaid carers save the economy an incredible £87 billion each year – which is what it costs annually to run the NHS. National Carers Week takes place 14-20 June, and will help to highlight and celebrate the incredible contribution that carers make.

There are many families and individuals in Leeds who are coping daily with the disabilities or care needs of a loved one. This can be both emotionally and physically draining for those involved, which is where the role of respite carers can make such a big difference. Without these short breaks many people would find their caring roles much more difficult.

The Leeds Shared Lives scheme provides respite breaks, and is currently looking for more short break carers. The service provides short breaks for adults in the home of a shared lives carer, or support and companionship during the day either in the carer’s or individual’s own home for a few hours a day. There is also a night awake service available for people who need attention during the night, which allows their own family carer to catch up with their sleep.

If you are interested in becoming a carer or would like more information, please contact Leeds Shared Lives on 0113 2243503 or email No experience is needed as training and expenses are provided.

Viv Wortham has been a short breaks carer for 13 years, and recently gave up her job to work fulltime for Leeds Shared Lives. She said:
“As carers, we do indeed share lives with the people we care for and their families. Indeed many of the people who come to stay at my house consider us as their second family and invite us to their family events.

“I’ve been a short breaks carer for 13 years – in the beginning I had four young
children at home and I worked part-time, so I began to look after people at my house at weekends.

“Over the years I increased the number of people who came to stay because we felt valued by the families who needed the respite, and we really enjoyed spending our lives with the people who came to stay.

“I have now given up working for the NHS and work full time for Leeds Shared Lives, looking after a variety of people between the ages of 18 and 66.

“We encourage our guests to grow as individuals by trying out new experiences with us, or just by joining in with us as a family. Some people simply come to us to relax away from their own family.

“My family and I feel very proud that we are valued so highly by the people we care for and their families. I hope to be able to continue working for Leeds Shared Lives for many, many more years as I find it so rewarding.”

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, executive board member with responsibility for adult social care said:
“The Leeds Shared Lives scheme, or Family Placement service as it was previously known, was one of the first of its type in the country and has developed over the last 33 years to meet the changing needs of communities in Leeds.

“We have many wonderful carers making a huge difference to the lives of people needing care and their families, and I would like to thank them for everything they do, and urge anyone who is interested in becoming a carer to get in touch. It truly is a very rewarding role.”

The Shared Lives service recruits people who are committed to providing help and support to people in the community. They are people from all walks of life who share the desire to make a difference. All prospective SL carers receive training and police and health checks before being assessed and approved.

Carers can be single people, couples or families and be from a variety of different backgrounds and experiences. If you have the time in your life to become a shared lives carer, it’s worth finding out more.

Additional info

Contact Leeds Shared Lives by ringing 0113 224 3503, minicom 0113 247 8934 or email

For media enquiries, please contact;
Claire Macklam, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1578