Rachel Halford- 2021 Candidate

Rachel Halford – United Kingdom
EURO Regional Board Member Candidate
Chief Executive Officer, The Hepatitis C Trust

Rachel’s biography

I have worked for over 20 years with people at risk of viral hepatitis – the homeless, prisoners, substance misusers and migrants. In July 2015 I joined The Hepatitis C Trust (HCT), becoming their CEO in July 2018. Before this, I was the CEO of Women in Prison, a UK NGO supporting women affected by the criminal justice system. I am experienced running an NGO and sit on a number of national boards, as well as representing HCT at a European level. In 2018, I joined the World Hepatitis Alliance board as the European Regional Board member. Diagnosed in 1998, after a year of interferon treatment I cleared hepatitis C in 2007. 

Rachel’s personal statement

Through my lived and professional experience, I have gained an in-depth knowledge and expertise in issues relating to viral hepatitis. While my primary expertise is hepatitis C, my experience in hepatitis B has grown significantly over the past two years. This has, in part, been as a result of my role as the European Regional Board member of WHA. In 2019 I took on a consultant role with National Aids Trust (NAT) working with ECDC on the EU/EEA Viral Hepatitis monitoring reports, this gave me an understanding of priority areas for actions and gaps in national responses to the hepatitis C and B epidemics, as well as a solid knowledge of specific hepatitis issues relating to individual countries, particularly in regard to hepatitis B. 

I have worked for over 17 years within, and leading, patient or service user-led organisations, serving marginalised and stigmatised groups. I am passionate about equality, human rights and working in partnership. I strive to ensure the patient voice is at the centre of the decision making process. My work with peer projects at HCT has been acknowledged on a national level by strategic partners, which has led to an additional 60 paid peer workers and 106 peer volunteers. 

Over the past two years my work with WHA, along with my previous work with ELPA and current work with Liver Patients International (LPI) and ECDC, has provided me with the experience of working with viral hepatitis and the elimination agenda across Europe. I am well informed around the issues relating to viral hepatitis across Europe, the disparity across different countries in terms of government agendas, individual country health funding structures, stigma, and the impact this has on those affected. 

I am also versed on the European strategic landscape having attended both regional and global WHO meetings. In addition, I am a member of Nobody Left Outside (NLO), a stakeholder network under the health policy platform of the European Commission, a collection of organisations representing some of Europe’s most marginalised communities, populations with a high prevalence of viral hepatitis. 

I regularly deliver global presentations on viral hepatitis and peer-led working approaches, sharing best practice, in particular over the recent COVID period in which I have become well-informed on the additional difficulties that COVID has brought to liver patient groups across Europe. 

I am proud to publicly support WHA, fully committing to the by-laws and ethos  enhances those that I already work within. We have window of opportunity at the moment to eliminate viral hepatitis across the world, I believe this is only achievable by keeping the patient at the centre and by working together. 

As a current member of the WHA Board and LPI Board, I am aware of the responsibilities and activities required of a board position. I am experienced in organisational governance, finance and legal requirements in an adherence and approval context. I have a solid understanding and knowledge of the importance of confidentiality and conflict of interests. I am also a firm believer that any organisation whether statutory or NGO has a responsibility to act in a transparent manner, at no time compromising its integrity; something that is led by the moral compass of the board members down to the staff team. 

I have a history of working successfully in partnership with patient organisations and professionals within an operational and strategic capacity across both the UK and Europe, including NHS England, HMPPS, Members of Parliament, ECDC, WHO and bodies that include leading clinicians, the pharmaceutical industry, substance misuse providers and patient groups including ELPA, LPI and NLO. Providing the patient perspective within myriad settings is central to my role at HCT. I am often required to attend or dial into meetings, many of a high level. My ability to be able to listen, analyse and respond in a creative and strategic manner is critical. Thinking outside the box and solving issues is a strength of mine, which flourishes when working with others. 

I would welcome the opportunity to commit to a further two years in an active role within the WHA board representing the European Region. I have learnt a lot over the past two years, and have far more to offer as a board member. I believe we have, as a region, a great opportunity to build a unity as patient organisations, strengthening our voices, both in our individual countries and across the European strategic landscape, supporting each other and in turn the other regional areas within the world to achieve the global ambition of eliminating hepatitis by 2030.