Martin thanks NHS for keeping him alive for over 20 years

Martin Dadswell

Martin Dadswell can’t thank the NHS enough for the care he has received since he was diagnosed with HIV in December 1994.

Martin, from Rotherhithe, is passionate everyone should receive the same “most wonderful care from the NHS” that he has had, as he believes “this should be normal care”.

“The NHS has kept me alive for 20 years, so that’s why I want to give back.” said Martin, aged 54.

Since his diagnosis, Martin has been heavily involved in driving forward improvements in health care; from speaking about safer sex for London Lighthouse to working with NICE to develop clinical guidelines for people with coeliac disease.

Last year, Martin started working with Southwark and Lambeth Integrated Care to help resolve the problems people with multiple long-term conditions face, so they can take control of their own lives.

“I couldn’t turn down this opportunity to give back. It also keeps me going and gives my mind something to do.” said Martin.

As well as HIV, he has been diagnosed with coeliac disease, ulcerative colitis and clinical depression. Martin describes managing all of these conditions as a “medication balancing act”.

“People with multiple long-term conditions have a lot of difficult decisions to make about how they manage them. For example, recently I had to choose to live with numbness in my toes, rather than change my HIV medication to avoid any bad side effects or become drug resistant. This wasn’t an easy choice to make.” explained Martin.

Integrated care aims to support people with multiple long-term conditions to lead happier and healthier lives. Martin said: “Information sharing is key to people receiving good care.

“If this is coordinated better, people with multiple long-term conditions could have two appointments on the same day, rather than spread out over a week. This would mean fewer appointments are missed and less medical tests, so patients would spend less time at hospital and have a better experience, which would result in better quality of life. It would also save the hospitals money.”

Martin Dadswell at home

But Martin did explain that care is a two way process and it’s not just about the system supporting the patient: “You shouldn’t expect to receive excellent care, if you don’t put 100 per cent in yourself.”

For the last 12 years, on average Martin has over 50 medical and dental appointments a year. In 2014, Martin only had 12 medical appointment free weeks.

He joked that: “The only departments I haven’t tried yet are gynaecology and maternity.”

medication on shelves

Martin said: “In the early days I used to have to take 28 pills a day; 12 to fight the HIV and 16 to fight the side effects of the HIV medication.”

He doesn’t have to take that amount of pills any more, but Martin explained: “I’m going to be on these drugs for the rest of my life.”

Martin has been supporting Southwark and Lambeth Integrated Care to build resilient communities for over a year now. The objectives are:

• To empower adults with multiple long term conditions to self-manage and live as independent and healthy a life as possible.

• To ensure that when care is needed it is organised around the whole person in their whole life and supports self-management.

Will Nicholson, Resilient Communities Project Manager at Southwark and Lambeth Integrated Care, said: “It’s brilliant to have Martin on board. All our partners benefit from being reminded that improving care for people is the focus of our work. Having people, like Martin, bring their personal experience and enthusiasm to our meetings helps us overcome some of the challenges of integrating care across health, social care and the voluntary sector.”

Martin has also chaired his local general practice patient participation group and been a member of the North Southwark patient participation group.

Martin said: “My mum [Judy Dadswell] was involved in an all-party parliamentary group inquiry about breast cancer in older women and is a Breast Cancer Care peer support volunteer. It runs in the family.”