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News : Helpline Gets Grant to Help More Youngsters
Leicester, UK, Aug 11, 2015 -- A messaging helpline developed by a Leicestershire health trust for the smart-phone generation has been awarded a grant to improve young people's access to healthcare nationally.
The money for the ChatHealth messaging service, developed by Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust will be used to give other organisations a helping hand to set-up similar services.
The service was developed in association with LPT's school nursing service, and offers 65,000 11-19 year olds in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland access to confidential health advice and support through text messaging.
School nurses have received 3,500 messages from young people in secondary schools over the last 12 months.
Teens say they are more likely to ask for health support from a qualified professional now they have the option of asking questions remotely or anonymously.
They say it can be less embarrassing to talk about difficult issues in writing and often make initial contact by text message before seeing a school nurse in person.
The nurses say they are speaking to more new service users, offering help earlier across a broader range of health issues.
The funding is provided by the East Midlands Academic Health Science Network (EMAHSN) and follows ChatHealth winning a healthcare innovation award for improving access to services for teenagers.
Jimmy Endicott, ChatHealth project lead at the trust, said: "We are delighted to have this support in helping other healthcare providers work as effectively as possible.
"It is great news for NHS teams that want to improve access to health support and for young people, who otherwise might not engage with healthcare."
The funding will subsidise set-up of messaging programmes in not-for profit organisations. It will enable the ChatHealth team to support a number of organisations adopting the service, including training staff, project management and secure text messaging software.
Chris Hart, commercial director at EMAHSN said: "It is a truly inclusive and innovative way for reaching out to patients, making use of technology that the smartphone generation is familiar with.
"We expect lots of interest from teams that support younger people like school nursing and health visiting teams, mental health and sexual health services."
The service is already in use in a number of NHS Trusts across the UK.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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ChatHealth offers a webapp that provides messaging between healthcare professionals and service users.
Published: Thursday, August 13, 2015