West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust’s clinical helpline clinches national award

West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust’s (WSFT) clinical helpline has won an award at the National Patient Experience National Awards (PENNA).

The helpline, which launched in April 2020 following the national suspension of visiting at hospitals due to Covid-19, won the ‘Support for Caregivers, Friends & Family’ category at the awards which is run by the Patient Experience Network; a not for profit organisation that focuses on the importance of experience for patients, carers and staff.

To date, the clinical helpline has taken over 40,000 calls from relatives and caregivers seeking an update on their loved-one’s care when they are unable to visit them in the hospital. The helpline team is made up of 70 staff members which include both clinical and administrative staff who are able to provide information and updates via the Trust’s digital health records seven days a week.

Members of the West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust clinical helpline team.
From left to right: Caitlin Pearson, occupational therapist; Cassia Nice, head of patient experience; Tracey Thynne, speech and language therapist; Peter Mason, registered nurse; Lyn Stanway, registered midwife; Zoe Collins, registered nurse; Amanda Everett, registered nurse; Anna Wilson, PALS manager; Sam Mason, registered nurse.
June 2021


Despite launching as a result of Covid-19, the success of the team has meant the Trust has continued with the service even after restrictions in hospitals were relaxed. The enhanced communication between the patient, families, carers and the hospital has released time for ward-based staff to remain focused on patient care.

WSFT’s head of patient experience Cassia Nice said: “We are delighted to win this award. The clinical helpline was a true collaboration throughout the Trust. This service offers important information and peace of mind to the loved-ones of patients who are unable to visit hospital sites due to illness, isolating or simply living far away.

“The feedback we have received from people who have used the service has been remarkable and I want to say thank you to every single member of this team who has gone above and beyond to offer professional support to loved-ones in very difficult circumstances.”

The Trust’s interim chief executive officer, Craig Black said: “Winning this award is a great achievement and I want to extend a huge congratulations to the team who have provided a vital service throughout one of the toughest periods in NHS history.

“Being able to provide an update to family members and caregivers who aren’t able to be with their loved-ones physically is so important and can alleviate stress and anxiety.”

This is not the only award that the clinical helpline team have been in the running for as they came runners up the ‘Staff Engagement and Improving Staff Experience’ category at PENNA in recognition of how the service has helped colleagues across the Trust, as well as being shortlisted for the Patient Safety Team of the Year award at this year’s HSJ Patient Safety Awards.