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Deputy chair at East Lancashire CCG announces her departure

Michelle Pilling, Deputy Chair and lay member for patient and public engagement at NHS East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has announced that she is leaving the CCG on Friday 6th November 2020 for a new role at NHS England.

Michelle, who will be joining NHS England’s social prescribing team, has been with the CCG since March 2014 having spent many years working in the voluntary sector. Her passion for engaging with patients, carers and community groups has ensured that patients, and the patient’s voice, are at the heart of everything the CCG does.

Dr Richard Robinson, Chair of NHS East Lancashire CCG, said: “We are extremely sad losing such a highly valued and respected colleague, an emotion which is simply an inevitable consequence of the huge impact Michelle has had on the working lives of us all in Pennine Lancashire.

“We are grateful for the time Michelle spent with our CCGs, an experience we wouldn’t wish to change. Michelle will be remembered locally for her energy and enthusiasm, her thoughtful erudite challenge whether written or spoken and her unremitting desire to put the patient at the centre of everything we do. We are immensely proud of Michelle’s achievement in this appointment to a national role, knowing this will be a huge benefit to an even larger population. We wish Michelle every success in her new role.”

Michelle believes that patients and carers have the greatest interest in getting things right, but they can only do so if we give them real power to shape their own care. As Chair of the CCG’s Quality and Safety Committee she is guided by the principle that the NHS does best when it listens hardest, and accepting that most major quality failures have been linked directly or indirectly to a failure to listen to patients, carers, and frontline staff.

She has led, and driven, the CCG’s Social Prescribing work, recognising that if mainstream health services fail to deliver its often due to the focus being on ‘what’s the matter with you’, rather than on ‘what matters to you’. Social Prescribing is a bold move towards genuine community-led solutions that aims to expand the options available to primary care by linking patients to non-medical support that community groups can provide.

Michelle said: “It has been a pleasure to work as part of a wider Pennine family alongside Blackburn with Darwen colleagues, co-designing high quality, joined up care that our population needs now more than ever right now. There is so much good work to build on already.

“Looking back over the last six years I am incredibly proud of all that colleagues have achieved and the firm foundations that have been built for the future. We’ve weathered some difficult storms together and also experienced some exceptional highs. To twice be nominated for CCG of the Year, in a field of 200, and also to be rated outstanding in national assessments, speaks of the hard work, effort and innovation of all of those involved. I continue to be inspired by the breadth of experience, compassion and willingness to really go that additional mile.

“One of my personal highlights of my time at the CCG was the special visit that Dr Kate Granger made in her final days, going out of her way to acknowledge the ‘Hello My Name Is’ work that the CCG led on locally, looking to build compassion in as a founding principle of everything we do. Those small acts of kindness are more important than ever whilst in the midst of a pandemic, as is recognising that we must first be kind to ourselves before we can help others.

“However, I’m now delighted to have this opportunity to work with partners across the country to embed social prescribing into mainstream practice at this critical time. COVID19 has highlighted more than at any other point just how damaging to our physical and mental health being disconnected from others is. With this in mind I would encourage you all to reach out to each other in as many small ways as virtual connectivity allows.

“I am proud of what we have achieved in Pennine Lancashire and can officially say I leave an outstanding organisation which is reflected in our recent assessment by NHS England. I’d like to thank everyone for their support along the journey.”