"The NHS is special because it levels the playing field by attempting to provide good quality healthcare to everyone."
Dr Mark Hayward is Director of Research at Sussex Partnership and an Honorary Senior Lecturer at the University of Sussex.
He has practiced as a clinical psychologist within NHS mental health services for more than 20 years and has developed the Sussex Voices Clinic – a specialist community service offering evidence-based psychological therapy to patients distressed by hearing voices.
Mark’s books include the CBT self-help book ‘Overcoming Distressing Voices’, and the research monograph ‘Psychological Approaches to Understanding and Treating Auditory Hallucinations’.
Mark joined the NHS in 1986 as a student nurse.
Here’s his story:
Why did you join the NHS?
I wanted to learn more about the care of people with learning disabilities, and the NHS was the best provider of training in this respect. I suppose it was the desire to learn that brought me into the NHS, and that desire is still strong and currently seeks expression through research.
What does your current role involve?
I’m very fortunate as my role has many interesting and rewarding aspects: I am the Director of Research and lead an ever-expanding department of fantastic researchers and research staff; I get to be a researcher myself by leading a programme of research that seeks to increase access to psychological therapy for patients distressed by hearing voices: I also lead and deliver therapy within the Voices Clinic – a specialist psychological therapies service that seeks to put research findings into practice for the benefit of our patients; and I also lecture at the University of Sussex and attempt to inspire the next generation of psychologists.
What do you most love about your job?
The variety! Each of my roles gives me a chance to make a difference! And every week, at least one of my roles is inspiring and exciting me!!
I am very proud of the work that is undertaken by so many of my colleagues within the Voices Clinic. Patients who are distressed by hearing voices rarely have access to psychological therapy, and this is a nationwide problem. The work of researchers and clinicians within the Sussex Voices Clinic enables many patients to have access to these therapies – many of which have been developed here in Sussex! The Voices Clinic is a genuine example of how research can directly improve the experience of our patients.
What do you think makes the NHS so special?
The NHS is special because it levels the playing field by attempting to provide good quality healthcare to everyone.
What do you think the next 70 years hold for the NHS and research generally?
One of the biggest challenges is our aging population. How can we continue to spread our limited resources to meet the needs of an increasing population of people who are living longer? Research can play a key role in helping us to develop and evaluate systems and treatments that can address these needs with the available resources.