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February 2018

Apprenticeship Week Collage

February 28

Case Studies

Jayne Toplis, associate director of people and organisational development, said: “We are committed to improving the long-term career prospects of our staff, giving them a head start on forging a fantastic career. Our staff are our greatest asset and we believe in ‘growing our own’ by helping people to develop internally. Fostering talent is key to ensuring that our workforce is equipped to deliver the best possible care to our patients. 

“Apprenticeships are a great opportunity for absolutely everyone, from school leavers to those who are looking for a change in career direction or want to do something rewarding with their career.

“There are a range of apprenticeships available to support your career development in both professional and technical fields such as healthcare, business administration, customer service, finance, and leadership and management and we have a dedicated vocational and workforce redesign advisor on site at each of the three trusts who can provide information, advice and guidance on the full range of apprenticeship opportunities available.”


Jenna Twaites, Communications Assistant, MEHT

Not knowing what to do after college, Jenna (pictured left) enrolled in the work experience scheme at Broomfield Hospital. What initially was an eight week placement evolved into six months, working across the multidisciplinary communications and public engagement team.

Jenna said: “Joining the work experience scheme helped me to gain a focus. I really began to feel part of the team and decided that I wanted to establish a career in comms and public engagement so I applied for the business admin apprenticeship in communications.

“I quickly learned the value of on-the-job learning; it enabled me to put theory into practice during everyday activities, whilst continually learning and developing new ways of working. 

“The NHS is an employer like no other; even though I am mainly office based, I have been on wards many times and engaged with patients collecting feedback etc. Being in the NHS and having the ability to make a difference to the wellbeing of a patient who is someone’s loved one is the ultimate reward for me; something as simple as making a cup of tea or ensuring the public information is accurate makes a difference.” 

Jenna has since completed her apprenticeship and has been working within the communications team full-time for nearly two years. 

“I really would recommend apprenticeships in the NHS. The experience, knowledge and versatility I have gained here is unbelievable. Being an apprentice was one of the best things that I have ever done - the possibilities are endless,” she added. 

Suzanne Pegrum, Healthcare Assistant, SUH 

Suzanne, 46, currently works on Southend Hospital’s Acute Medical Unit as a healthcare assistant. After nine years at the trust, she wants to progress her career and become a qualified nurse. With the backing of the trust, Suzanne has started an Assistant Practitioner (Nursing) Higher Apprenticeship FdSc Level 5 through Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) and is well on her way to achieving her ambition. 

Suzanne said: “I could never afford to go to university without the backing of the trust. I feel valued that my employer thinks I am capable to do this course. They are investing in me and once I have qualified, I can repay them back with my new skills and knowledge.  

“I think anyone interested in education in later life should consider an apprenticeship for the experience, for the knowledge and just for yourself. If you feel you have more to give – do it. It’s very rewarding.  

“Having left school 30 years ago, it’s really helpful to have a personal tutor help me adjust to university life as a ‘mature student’. 

“Don’t ever doubt yourself. I never thought I would be clever enough to even entertain going to university; I left school with bad grades but 30 years later, I am studying at ARU. I have pushed myself to get to the level required, so don’t ever think you are too old to study. Age is just a number.”  

Apprenticeships are not just suitable for young people, they are available to staff of any age and provide an opportunity to develop existing knowledge and learn new skills.

Eleanor Evans, Finance Apprentice, BTUH 

When Eleanor Evans, 19, was studying for a business diploma at college she found she had a good head for numbers. That made the prospect of learning while she earned with an apprenticeship, instead of building up a student debt, all the more appealing. 

Encouraged by her college, she applied for an apprenticeship in the finance department at Basildon University Hospital, where she has achieved a level 2 qualification in Association of Account Technicians (AAT) accounting. 

Eleanor said: “I had heard of apprenticeships but I didn’t know how much you can get from them. For me, it’s a much better option than going to uni; learning on the job means you develop your skills while building up work experience. And I’m not in debt! 

“When I came for an interview they told me there were lots of applicants so I was really happy and excited to get the apprenticeship. My manager in the finance team arranged for me to spend the first weeks doing different jobs around the hospital – I helped the porters for a week, spent time with the purchasing and procurement team, and had clinical staff practising their plastering skills on me. 

“It was fantastic doing that, because it gave me a really good understanding of what goes on in a hospital and how the money is spent. It made me understand how the work of the finance team is relevant to caring for patients. 

“Everyone in the finance team has been so friendly and supportive. I have been studying while working and everything I’ve learned here has helped with my exams.” 

Contact us:

If you would like further information please contact the relevant individual for your trust below.

Laura McCullagh -  Vocational and Workforce Redesign Advisor, Mid Essex Hospital


Nichola Waite -  Vocational and Workforce Redesign Advisor, Southend Hospital


Rachel Gray - Vocational and Workforce Redesign Lead, Basildon Hospital


Melanie Mason Donation
Melanie Mason with Martin Palmer, Children's Burns Club manager.

February 27

Cardiographer donates £1,000 to the Children’s Burns Club as a legacy from her late father

A cardiographer has donated £1,000 to the Children’s Burns Club, as a legacy from her late father.

Melanie Mason, who works in the cardiac department at Broomfield Hospital, presented the cheque to the club on behalf of her family. 

They selected the Children’s Burns Club to benefit from the money from her late father, Tony Davis’s, former workplace’s charitable foundation, of which he was a trustee, after seeing the fantastic work the club does. 

Melanie said: “My dad was an accountant for James Capel, which was later taken over by HSBC. The foundation was set up to help retired employees of the company in times of hardship and Dad was an active trustee for many years. After he passed away on December 31, 2016,  the other trustees donated £1,000 to a charity of our family’s choice. 

“My family have lived in Billericay for nearly 40 years and Dad always used to put money in the tin when they were raising funds for the burns unit all those years ago.  

“I also saw a little boy who was under the care of the burns unit and after talking to staff and meeting Martin Palmer, manager of the Children’s Burns Club, we thought that they were a very worthy recipient of the donation.

“My dad had to have his leg amputated above the knee five years ago and he was told he would never walk again but he did, and knowing how he struggled sometimes, if the money will help or give enjoyment to some children who have and are still being so brave and strong would be a great thing, and I know my dad would approve of the choice we have made as a family.”

Dr Chanaka Karunaratne
Dr Chanaka Karunaratne.

February 27

Patient Story: “I am enjoying a significantly better quality of life after robotic surgery”

Dr Chanaka Karunaratne, Consultant Anaesthetist, Basildon University Hospital

“I had suffered with achalasia (a rare disorder of the food pipe – the oesophagus – which can make it difficult to swallow food and drink) for almost a decade. My condition was initially managed with lifestyle changes, and then later with procedures including oesophageal dilatation (to widen a narrowed section of the food pipe), botox injections and proton pump inhibitor (PPI) therapy (to reduce the production of acid in the stomach). 

“Unfortunately, the condition got progressively worse, with nocturnal retrosternal pain (pain in the chest at night) and regurgitation, which kept me awake. A few years ago, I also suffered an oesophageal rupture after trying to swallow solid food. I continued to be managed with endoscopic surveillance and PPI but had impaired quality of life and significant weight loss. 

“I met Mr Kadirkamanathan at a social gathering a few months ago and got the opportunity to talk to him about my condition. He gave me information about the robotic assisted Heller’s Myotomy procedure (where the oesophageal sphincter muscle is cut), which gave me the insight I needed to consider surgical intervention. My decision to go ahead with surgery for certain was aided by my gastroenterologist at Basildon Hospital, Dr Javed Subhani.

“Once I took the decision, the rest is history. Mr Kadirkamanathan saw me in his surgical clinic and took me through the entire surgical pathway step by step. This gave me the confidence I needed. Later in the clinic I met Mr Priyantha Siriwardene who referred me to The Royal London Hospital for oesophageal manometry studies (to measure the strength and function of the oesophagus). This led to a formal diagnosis of type 1 achalasia cardia.

“One week before my surgery, I had an endoscopy conducted by Mr Kadirkamanathan and my preoperative assessment. I had my surgery on January 17 this year and was discharged the next day after a gastrograffin study (a procedure using a dye to show clearly on X-rays the area of investigation). The surgical pathway went according to the plan and my post-operative period was uneventful. 

“At present, I am enjoying a significantly better quality of life as my swallowing and symptoms have become much easier. I continue to recover and gain weight. I am thankful to Mr Kadirkamanathan, Mr Priyantha Siriwardene, his surgical team, anaesthetic team (Dr Mohamed and Dr S Thanthulage) and Broomfield Hospital.”        

Our Charity’ is calling on the community to rally together for our £1.5million appeal to fund the upgrading of the robotic surgery service at Broomfield Hospital, including a state-of-the-art new surgical robot and the continued use of surgical robotics.  

There is significant evidence that demonstrates a number of advantages for patients who have benefited from surgery with the surgical robot compared to conventional surgical techniques including: 

•Shorter hospital stays

•Immediate improvements during recovery

•Precision surgery (overcoming limitations of laparoscopic surgery)

•Articulation beyond normal manipulation

•Naturally occurring tremors filtered out by computer software

Your support will put Broomfield Hospital firmly on the map as surgical innovators in Essex.

You can donate to our appeal, ‘Rally Together for the Robot’, here: https://www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/midessexhospitals/surgicalbot


February 15

Calling all keen cyclists and runners!

Would you like to challenge yourself to cycle from the capital to the coast? Or would you prefer to run, walk or jog around a picturesque park while dressed as your favourite superhero?

‘Our Charity’ has five places available for the London to Brighton Cycle on September 16, and 10 places for the Superhero Run at Regent’s Park, London, on May 13. 

Please contact fundraising coordinator Charlotte Jefcoate on 01245 514860 or fundraising@meht.nhs.uk for more information.

February 15

Fundraisers prepare for Brighton Marathon

Two fundraisers are preparing to take on the challenge of a lifetime by running the Brighton Marathon on Sunday, April 15. 

Sarah Dougal is running to raise money for the Head and Neck Cancer Service.  

She said: “I have had running a marathon on my 'list of things to do before I'm 30' for a few years now, although I never expected to be celebrating by running one on my actual birthday. To motivate me through the weeks of training and the culminating 26.2 miles and make it all worthwhile, I am raising money for the Head and Neck Cancer Service, because let’s face it my pain and suffering for a few hours is insignificant in comparison to what patients go through.” 

Sophie Dix is running for the Children’s Burns Club, who have supported her family. 

She said: “In 2011 my daughter, Delilah, was severely burned in an accident in which she sustained 50% full thickness burns. She spent nearly two months in intensive care and we are lucky to still have her in our lives. She wore pressure garments covering her whole body for a year and has had endless therapy. She has been through an awful lot, however is the happiest, bravest, most confident child who touches the hearts of everyone who meets her (even her brothers, Felix and Morgan).  

“The Children's Burns Club provides support and activities to children who have been injured. As Delilah grows and becomes more aware of her scarring, it is a great opportunity to meet other burned children and for me to meet other parents. The club also provides psychological and social support for dealing with disfigurement and raising awareness about burns.”

INFORMATION: To support our fundraisers, please visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/sarah-dougal1 and https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/sophie-dix2.

Research and Development Team
The Research and Development Team.

February 2

Research Team reach the finals of the British Journal of Nursing Awards

The Research Team at MEHT are delighted to have reached the finals of the British Journal of Nursing Awards.

They have been nominated for the ‘innovation’ category, in recognition of initiatives within the research team and development of a growing research culture at our trust.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony on Friday, March 9, at Shakespeare’s Underglobe, London. 

Tracey Camburn, Lead Research Nurse and Co-Director of R&D said: “We are thrilled and proud to be shortlisted for this prestigious award. 

"The research team has grown and developed within both Mid Essex and primary care and this nomination is clear recognition of our achievements.”

February 1

Volunteers “making a difference” at MEHT

Profile on the Patient Council 

Supporting many of the continuous improvements across the trust are a cohort of committed volunteers, giving up their time to “make a difference” to our patients’ lives. 

Whether serving on committees, building on our partnership with Anglia Ruskin University, or coordinating renovations to the Faith Centre, the dedicated members of the Patient Council work tirelessly to further the aims of the trust. 

The team also carry out a schedule of ward visits, providing patients with the opportunity to give feedback about their stay at Broomfield Hospital, informing future service developments. 

Each of the volunteers has their own story to tell about their inspiration for taking part. 

Robert Lee-Bird, chairman of the Patient Council, works full-time as a production manager, using his free time to support the group’s work. This includes many roles alongside his remit as chairman, such as co-chairing the Patient Participation Group with Dr Ruth Jackson, PVC (Medical School Development) and director (Postgraduate Medical Institute, PMI) at the Faculty of Medical Science, Anglia Ruskin University, and being involved in the selection process for prospective medical students, plus a member of the Patient Safety and Quality Group at MEHT. 

He was inspired to join the Patient Council after being diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in April 2015. During the recovery process following surgery, he enquired about support groups which he could join. Upon discovering that there was not a support group for patients with oesophageal cancer at the time, Robert volunteered to take on the task. Following this involvement with volunteering at Broomfield Hospital, he then accepted an invitation to join the Patient Council and later applied to become its chairman. 

“When I started I looked at it as if I could make a difference to one person, then everybody that comes after that person would have a better experience,” Robert said. 

He would like to encourage more volunteers to join the Patient Council, explaining that the time commitment can be as little as two or three hours per month. He would especially be keen to hear from medical students who may wish to take part in ward visits. 

“I have made a difference to so many people now that I have lost count – it is a fuzzy feeling, that little feeling you get because you know you have done something good. 

“I had the desire to make a difference. I would like to inspire somebody else to take on the same challenge,” he added. 

Patient Council Members’ Stories 

Jane Pratt 

I joined the Patient Council in response to an advert placed by Robert in our local newspaper. 

It grabbed my interest as an ex-nurse and someone who believes wholeheartedly in the NHS and I felt I could contribute something, however small. After meeting Robert and the team I felt that I would like to visit the wards and actually chat to the patients and listen to them tell me about their stay in hospital. We gather the information and learn about what is happening at the coal face on that particular day. We can learn so much by doing this and ultimately improve patient care.  

I also take part as one of many listeners at ‘In Your Shoes’ listening events, I find the interaction with patients, whilst eye-opening and sometimes moving, to be fulfilling and worthwhile.  

Paul Foulger 

In November 2000 I was diagnosed with terminal cancer, however I was passed on to two fantastic consultants at Broomfield and after a course of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, I had a major operation in May 2001 and luckily all signs of cancer were removed. As a result of all of the voluntary work I had done so far, and my successful operation in May 2001, I really wanted to put much more back into the NHS and in particular Broomfield, who had looked after me so well. Eventually I joined the Patient Council in October 2014.    

I have spent a great deal of time visiting wards and talking to patients, plus visiting areas of the hospital such as operating theatres and other areas which are essential to the treatment of patients. It is most rewarding being able to talk to patients, particularly when I can share my own story with those who are in a similar situation to me and are perhaps apprehensive and unsure, but these sorts of conversations can make a real difference to them. I am passionate about my role as a volunteer on the Patient Council, I learn new things every time I visit Broomfield and at the same time feel that I am doing something very worthwhile in being able to ensure we are putting back something into the workings of Broomfield Hospital and are improving the patient experience. 

Paul Carwardine 

I first became aware of the Patient Council when I attended an ‘In Your Shoes’ session after a short spell as an inpatient at Broomfield. I decided to apply for membership as I thought I would find the work interesting and with a medical background, albeit veterinary, both in general practice and in the pharmaceutical industry, I would be able to make a useful contribution. At my first annual appraisal I was invited to join Robert, Paul Foulger and Ray as a member of the strategy planning group with the role of mentor to train new members. I also represent patients’ interests on the hospital’s infection control and blood transfusion committees and like my colleagues, participate in the listening events and Patient Led Assessment of Care in the Environment (PLACE) hospital inspections. Although my involvement with the Patient Council has escalated beyond what I had anticipated, I have no regrets as it has proved to be a highly rewarding and worthwhile experience. 

Ray Berris 

Having been a very active person all of my life, I was at a loss after a short time when I decided to retire on medical grounds. A friend told me about the hospital and, having had first class treatment on several occasions in the NHS, I applied and was accepted to work at the main outpatients’ area as a ‘meet and greet’ volunteer.  

I quickly realised that I could do more and at a volunteers ‘thank you’ tea party, I heard a member of the Patient Council give a speech about their work. I applied to join and was asked some time later to apply for the position of vice chairman. I now sit on several committees, am involved with the new medical school at ARU, and am responsible for the extensive network we have making ward visits to all of the hospital wards and clinics. 

Duncan Hayes 

I joined the Patient Council in 2016, shortly after reading a press release about Robert Lee-Bird’s appointment as chairman. The release gave an indication of the work the council did, which I felt was very worthwhile, and said he would be looking for new members. 

In my professional life, I have had many years’ experience of accurately recording what people say, but I was about to retire. I therefore felt that it would be nice to offer the skills I had developed for the benefit of others, and would probably benefit me mentally as well. I felt that talking to patients and conveying their view of a ward, on an impartial and anonymous basis to management, could ‘fit the bill’.   

I enjoy meeting patients to obtain their views, the vast majority of which are positive, and consider that such ward visits provide both valuable feedback for management as well as providing an opportunity for patients to make their voice heard. 

If you would like to join the Patient Council, please email meht.council@gmail.com. For more information, visit http://www.meht.nhs.uk/about-us-/patient-council.