Professor Andy Hassell took on the role of Chairman of the Haywood Rheumatism Research and Development Foundation in 2005. To this role he brought energy, humour, rigor and continued the ambition that patients and carers should remain at the very centre of the charity’s ambition. Andy took on this auspicious role from Dr Ted Hothersall, who founded the charity in 1973. During his tenure as Chairman, Professor Hassell has inspired our committee members to strive to improve the lives of those with arthritis and their carers.
Improving patients’ experience has truly been at the heart of what Professor Hassell has done for the Foundation. Some examples of the areas he has championed include supporting the funding of additional equipment for the Haywood Hospital such as the purchase of a DEXA scanner to assess the bone health of our patients. He was pivotal in improving communication for our patients by commissioning our first website and formulated the idea of a patient information and education room. The PIER idea came to fruition and was jointly opened by Gordon Banks and Professor Hassell on 12 October 2015. The PIER, which is run by volunteers, contains information to assist patients managing their conditions.
Professor Hassell has promoted the funding of research into rheumatological conditions and has helped the research community both locally and nationally to understand some of the complexities of inflammatory conditions. He encouraged the funding of practical solutions for our patients such as comfortable chairs in the waiting area of the Haywood Hospital. He championed the funding of Tai Chi classes for patients to help them manage ongoing pain. Andy also proactively sought to engage patients as committee members.
Professor Hassell has also helped the committee members to realise the benefits of supporting pilot roles within the NHS and academia. Such roles have included a Project Manager for the PIER, a Rheumatology Nurse, an Activity Co-ordinator and a Professor of Nursing. Such roles have a huge impact on patient care and enable us to share best practice with our national and international colleagues.
Ongoing education of our NHS colleagues has been important to Andy and the Foundation committee. Under his guidance, we created and expanded funding opportunities for practitioners to extend their knowledge of the rheumatology speciality. Over the years, this has supported nursing and Allied Health Professionals to attend Masters level training locally at Keele, but has also assisted individuals to attend international conferences to hear about the latest evidence in care. Andy developed the Pat Grimsley award, in recognition of an inspirational lady and her family, who received care at the Haywood. This award allows practitioners to apply to funding to support ongoing education. More recently he has led the committee in supporting the development of the Hothersall PhD.
Professor Hassell’s stewardship of the Foundation has given rise to monumental opportunities in research, education and patient care. His focus on improving the lives of patients has been resolute. As a committee we will take forward his ambitions and energy with pride and will seek to continue his amazing work. Thank you from us all.