Macclesfield Hospital colleagues Lyn Bailey and Sam Leonard being presented with the trust's award
Macclesfield Hospital colleagues Lyn Bailey and Sam Leonard being presented with the trust's award
East Cheshire NHS Trust wins national autism award
15 March 2016

East Cheshire NHS Trust has won a national award in recognition of extensive work to make its services more accessible for people with autism. 

Representatives from the trust were presented with the Outstanding Health Services award for the trust’s Open 2 Autism project at the fourth annual Autism Professionals Awards at Telford International Centre (1 March 2016).

The National Autistic Society (NAS) event, sponsored by Axcis Education Recruitment, was hosted by comedian Janey Godley and Janet Corcoran, a parent of an autistic adult and trustee of the charity. They handed out 13 awards to individuals and teams, including Sam Leonard and Lyn Bailey, who are among East Cheshire NHS Trust staff doing innovative work in the field of autism and having a positive impact on autistic people and their families in the UK.

There were 217 nominations for this year’s awards, which were whittled down to 37 finalists and 13 winners by an independent panel of 11 autism experts who judged each on their innovation, creativity, impact and sustainability.

Macclesfield Hospital, run by East Cheshire NHS Trust, was the first hospital to become accessible for autistic people and achieved the first National Autistic Society’s Autism Access Award during its pilot in 2014

Open 2 Autism involves comprehensive cultural change to make the hospital’s services more accessible for people with autism. To achieve this, the Trust has introduced wide-ranging training for staff, specific ‘autism link practitioner’ roles, a ‘quiet entrance’ into the hospital and changes to admission procedures for autistic patients in order to minimise any anxiety for them. 

Lyn Bailey, the Trust’s Equality and Patient Experience Manager, said: "We are honoured to have received recognition on such a national level.  Open 2 Autism shows how lots of small changes can combine to make a real positive difference to the experiences of patients and carers and we are delighted to receive such a high-profile endorsement of our work.”

Carol Povey, Director of The National Autistic Society's Centre for Autism, said: "This year’s awards were the biggest yet, with a record 217 nominations showing the range of amazing work going on across the UK to improve the lives of people on the autism spectrum and their families.

“East Cheshire NHS Trust did remarkably well to stand out in this highly competitive field, impressing the judges with the autism friendliness of their service. The judges commented that, if every NHS Trust followed the example of East Cheshire, the lives of autistic people would be much improved.

“I’m always struck by the huge impact that knowledgeable and understanding individuals and services can have on autistic people and their families. This is true of each and every one of the award finalists and winners and I hope their achievements will inspire other professionals and services in the area to improve their own autism practice.”