Two health initiatives in Gloucestershire have been chosen as regional winners at the NHS Parliamentary Awards for making a real difference to how the NHS provides care for patients.

The proud recipients are the Gloucestershire Primary Care Workforce Team in The Health Equalities Award category, and Kingfisher Treasure Seekers in The Excellence in Mental Health Care category. Both initiatives are now on the shortlist for the national award in their respective categories.

Mary Hutton, Accountable Officer at NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and One Gloucestershire Integrated Care System (ICS) Lead, said:

“We are incredibly proud of these services for making the official shortlist for a national award against tough competition from nearly 600 nominations.

Thank you to our local MPs for recognising and appreciating the creativity and hard work of our staff and services, and for making these nominations.”

The Primary Care Workforce Team impressed judges by finding new ways to support people who traditionally struggle to access the NHS and consequently suffer from poor health.

Following discussions with GP practices and local partners, the team designed a Health Inequalities Fellowship aimed at tackling recruitment issues in Gloucester’s deprived, inner-city areas and diversifying the GP workforce in the city.

GP Fellows connect with local services to gain specialist knowledge and expertise about populations where there are increased health and social challenges and build relationships with patients to help improve their health.

They work as GPs for five session per week, and also complete a project and Postgraduate Certificate in Public Health.

Dr Lizzie Eley, GP, Clinical Chair of the Gloucestershire Primary Care Training Hub and Associate Postgraduate Dean at Health Education England South West, said:

“The Gloucestershire Primary Care Training Hub has worked innovatively with the CCG, Health Education England and Public Health England to improve the health and wellbeing of patients living in the more deprived areas of Gloucester.

“Our GP Fellows are really making a difference, though initiatives such as supporting and developing a specialist asylum seeker and refugee service, working with people who frequently access NHS services including patients with mental health problems and obesity.”

Meanwhile, Kingfisher Treasure Seekers won its award for helping the hardest to reach groups to become the best versions of themselves, as fully engaged and contributing members of their communities.

Thanks to funding from the CCG, Gloucester District Council, the Police and Crime Commissioner and other partners, The Cavern, a café in Gloucester, offers non-clinical mental health support to people in the evenings, when they often need help most, helping them feel less isolated, cope with anxiety and meet new people.

The café is run by trained staff and volunteers who offer a listening ear and low-level interventions such as board games, adult colouring and more inclusive activities such as quiz nights.

It offers an inclusive and supportive environment, with a ‘snug’ and quiet space upstairs when privacy is needed.

Dr Lawrence Fielder, Clinical Lead for Mental Health Services at the CCG, said:

“It’s sometimes difficult to know where to turn for support when life feels too much or you’re struggling to cope.

The Cavern is a really friendly place, and offers a safe and supportive environment for times like this.”

The café, which opened in 2015 alongside a community hub, is run by Kingfisher Treasure Seekers, a voluntary organisation with a long history of supporting people who have mental health problems.

Katie Tucker, Director at Kingfisher Treasure Seekers said:“We are delighted to have won this award for our work to provide a safe space for those most in need.

The Cavern has been a lifeline for over 900 people who desperately need support, and who are now registered to use the service.

This is a unique service which helps people with significant mental health needs who often don’t engage with traditional services. 316 people have said they would have killed themselves if not for the service; it’s wonderful that this has been recognised.”

The competition culminates with an awards ceremony in Parliament on 10 July where the national winners will be presented with their awards.