Widnes Vikings teams up with NHS to tackle pressures


Players and coaches from the Super League rugby league club Widnes Vikings are leading a pioneering new campaign to reduce pressure on the NHS.

The Vikings have teamed up with NHS Halton Clinical Commissioning Group to create a unique series of videos that creatively educate people on how to make the right choices when accessing NHS services. By helping people to select the services that are appropriate to their need, the campaign aims to relieve pressures faced by vital NHS services, such as Accident and Emergency departments.

The campaign sees the Vikings squad take part in around 20 short features. These include members of the Vikings squad filling a corridor at Whiston Hospital’s A&E department, encouraging viewers to ‘beat the scrum at A&E’, as well as Vikings Head Coach, Denis Betts, giving his players a team talk on the ‘playing formation’ of the Halton’s NHS services.

See their Videos

Beat The Scrum At A&E! – Vikings players scrum at Whiston Hospital
Ted and James Chapelhow Visit Halton’s twin Urgent Care services
Vikings stars hit NHS targets in kicking challenge 
Vikings Head Coach, Denis Betts gives NHS team talk

Underpinning the campaign is a serious message – if people access NHS services that are appropriate to their need they can be treated quicker, avoid wasting valuable NHS resources and reduce pressure on local health services. 

A key priority of the campaign is raising awareness of Halton’s two Urgent Care Centres in Widnes and Runcorn. These services provide treatment for injuries or conditions that require urgent attention but aren’t serious or life-threatening. With specialist staff and facilities, they provide an effective alternative to Accident and Emergency – treating everything from broken bones and wounds, to bites and stings. 

The average waiting time at a local A&E department is around 4 hours – in Halton’s Urgent Care services, people are treated in around 57 minutes. In 2015/16, over £250,000 was spent treating 4300 people in A&E who could have been treated at Urgent Care.

The campaign also raises awareness of the service that pharmacies can offer in providing advice and treatment for everyday conditions, such as colds, sore throats and skin conditions. It encourages people to seek advice from their pharmacist before visiting a GP on basic conditions that they can treat themselves. 

The videos are the latest development in an award-winning partnership between Widnes Vikings and NHS Halton CCG. The two organisations work together to deliver a number of ambitious projects and campaigns, which promote better health and closer communities.

Dave Sweeney, Chief Operating Officer for NHS Halton CCG, says: “We’re delighted to launch this campaign. At a time when the NHS faces real pressure to save money and ensure that its resources are being used in the most effective way possible, this campaign has a vital message.”

He continues, “The Vikings are the focal point of our local community, and by having the Club deliver such a fun and unique video series we’re sure that we will raise real awareness. We have some fantastic NHS services locally – if people access the ones that are right for their needs, we can ensure that we deliver the best care to our local community.”

Joe Mellor, Widnes Vikings Co-Captain, says: “All the Vikings players had a great time supporting our partners at NHS Halton CCG with this campaign. With £250,000 being spent locally on people accessing A&E who should have been treated elsewhere, the campaign has a really important aim. We hope our supporters enjoy the videos and get behind this effort.” 


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