Dr Helen Leonard
Consultant in Paediatric Neurodisability, Great North Children's Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne
Helen’s son, Matthew, was born in 2000 with severe, complex physical and learning disabilities, epilepsy and cerebral visual impairment. Despite her professional role as a Consultant in Paediatric Neurodisability, she has faced a long uphill struggle to get services to meet his needs. Matthew received a Personal Health Budget (PHB) in 2018, which transformed their lives for the better.
She is a passionate advocate of PHBs and Coproduction, which recognise the expertise of people with long term health difficulties and enable them to design solutions.
She is a member of the NHS England Strategic Coproduction Group. This is a small group of people with ‘lived experience’ who have undertaken training and selection to work with NHSE England on a national level. They have meaningful involvement in shaping NHS Personalised Care policy, developing and delivering training to professionals, championing Personalised Care and provide feedback to NHSE about how things are working ‘on the ground’.
As a Consultant in Paediatric Neurodisability at Great North Children’s Hospital, Helen manages children with epilepsy and a range of neurodevelopmental conditions including autism. She has set up some innovative external projects with voluntary sector collaboration including a music therapy group with Sage Gateshead music venue and post diagnostic information sessions with the North East Autism Society. She is an Associate Lecturer at Newcastle University medical school and delivers postgraduate training including the national Paediatric Epilepsy Training programme.
She has published about diverse topics including heart transplantation in Down’s syndrome, sleep deprivation in parents of children with disabilities and recently a BMJ editorial about the Universal Personalised Care comprehensive model.
As well as NHS posts, she spent 2 years setting up a paediatric services in Turks and Caicos Islands and 8 months working on Grand Cayman.