A CAMPAIGN using the power of Widnes rugby league stars to tackle NHS pressures has won a prestigious healthcare award.

Beat the Scrum sees past and present Widnes Viking players and St Helens and Warrington Wolves legends to educate the public on how to chose the right services when they are injured or ill.

The campaign has been named as the best primary care innovation at the Health Service Journal (HSJ) awards in London.

It was commissioned by the Mid-Mersey A&E Delivery Board, a coalition of NHS organisations that deliver or support local Accident and Emergency departments.

It has also been supported by Renova Developments, a specialist estates provider for the NHS.

With the Beat The Scrum programme generating more than half a million online video views and extensive local, national and regional coverage, as well as being heavily showcased at Super League games and the Magic Weekend fixture event at St James’ Park in Newcastle, it has given the NHS an important platform to engage with the public.

Ann Marr, chair of the Mid-Mersey A&E Delivery Board said, "We are delighted that our ground-breaking Beat The Scrum campaign has been recognised by the HSJ.

"At times of growing demand, it is vital that our communities know how to choose the right services when they experience illnesses or injuries.

"Working with Widnes Vikings and embracing the passion for rugby league has been hugely positive and resulted in the NHS successfully engaging with hundreds of thousands of local people."

James Rule, CEO of Widnes Vikings, says: "It’s been an honour for our club to lead a campaign that makes such a big difference to local NHS services and our communities.

"To know that this programme has not only been recognised as one of the best campaigns in world of sport but also as a standout innovation in the healthcare sector is a real source of pride.

"Special congratulations must be given to the Mid-Mersey A&E Delivery Board and Renova Developments for their vision in commissioning this campaign."