Former St Helens star, Phil Veivers, collected a special award, recognising his efforts to raise awareness of the pressures on local NHS services.
Veivers is an Official Ambassador for Beat The Scrum, a campaign that sees past and present Widnes Vikings stars, and legends of St Helens and Warrington Wolves, unite to help educate the public on how to choose the right services when they are injured or ill.
The programme was recently recognised at the NHS Sustainability Awards in London, with a Special Commendation in the Best Innovation category. The former full-back collected the award certificate at the recent Widnes Vikings vs Wakefield Trinity Super League fixture, on behalf of the Rugby League legends that have supported the campaign.
Beat The Scrum sees the players take part in a number of innovative online and PR campaigns, which aim to inform and inspire the public. A key objective of the initiative is to raise awareness of how by choosing local walk-in or urgent care centres in situations that aren’t serious or life threatening, instead of A&E departments, people can save themselves time and take pressure off local hospitals. It has been backed by the likes of Warrington Wolves greats Paul Cullen and Mike Nicholas, St Helens legends Paul Sculthorpe and Ray French, and former Widnes Vikings stars Mark Smith and Jim Mills.
The campaign has a vital aim, with over 120,000 people from Warrington, Knowsley, St Helens and Halton unnecessarily visiting A&E departments in the 2016/17 year, at the cost of £10m. With Beat The Scrum programme generating more than 400,000 online video views and extensive local, national and regional coverage, as well as being heavily showcased at Super League games, it gives the NHS an important platform to engage with the public.
Phil Veivers says: “It was a surprise to receive the award for my involvement in the Beat the Scrum campaign. When I started my involvement in the campaign, it wasn’t for awards, but to help bring the attention to the struggles the NHS has when people use it in the wrong way.
When I turned up to the Halton Stadium to commentate on the game, it was a pleasant surprise to be invited onto the pitch to receive the award.
“In the end, it’s nice to realise that by getting involved in the campaign, we are making a difference. To receive the award was a surprise and something I feel very proud of.”