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July 2017

Chinese Delegation
Dr Celia Skinner and Dr Rebecca Martin (centre) with the Chinese delegation.

July 31

Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust welcomes delegation of visitors from China to find out about our healthcare provision

Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust welcomed a delegation of visitors from China to find out about our healthcare provision on Friday, July 28. 

The group of six senior officials, who work in various roles within the country’s healthcare system, were accompanied by Ge Jing, International Trade Coordinator, from Essex County Council. 

They met with Dr Celia Skinner, Chief Medical Officer for Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust, Basildon and Thurrock Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, and Dr Rebecca Martin, Deputy Medical Director, who spoke to them about the work across the Trust and the operation of the NHS more generally. 

Dr Skinner and Dr Martin then escorted the group to the St Andrews Centre, where they had the opportunity to hear about the world-renowned specialist burns and plastic surgery service. 

The visit was part of the strategic UK-China healthcare exchanges led and facilitated by Essex County Council. The delegation included Mr Da Xuerong, Deputy Director of Wuxi Municipal Health and Family Planning Commission; Mr Xu Jiangmin, Deputy Chief of Health Promotion Division, Wuxi Municipal Health and Family Planning Commission; Ms Xin Zhihong, Chief of European & African Affairs Division, Wuxi Municipal Foreign Affairs Office; Mr Yao Ji, Chief of Exit-Entry Administration Division, Wuxi Municipal Foreign Affairs Office; Ms Lu Yan, Director of Liangxi District Health and Family Planning Bureau; and Mr Zhu Zhengwei, Deputy Director of Huishan District Health and Family Planning Bureau.

Dr Celia Skinner said: “We were delighted to welcome the delegation to our hospital in order to share knowledge about the healthcare provision here in the UK, and specifically at Mid Essex Hospitals. 

“It was a fantastic occasion which we were privileged to have been a part of. We hope that the insights we provided will be of benefit to our visitors. There is a real opportunity for some joint working and further collaboration.” 

Kelly Davis
Kelly Davis.

July 26

Members of Witham WI to take part in fun run in aid of Stock Ward
Members of Witham WI will take part in a fun run as part of a joint fundraising event which will benefit Stock Ward on Saturday (July 29).
The team, including Ella Davis, Senior Sister at the ward, and nurses Rebecca Cocks, Jolene Butcher, Natasha Sainsbury, Tracey Farrow, Jurate Stankeviciene and Jenny Reynolds will run circuits around Witham Rugby Club while being splashed with paint.
The ‘Colour Fun Run’ will be accompanied by a family fun day, complete with inflatables for children to play on and activities such as face painting to enjoy. The occasion is in aid of providing a more comfortable family room to be used by patients and their visitors.
Kelly Davis, Vice President of Witham WI, said: “In June we had a talk by Ella Davis and two consultants from Colchester, Rosamond Jacklin and Sunita Saha, on breast care.
“During the talk Ella spoke passionately about Stock Ward and the need for a family room - having spent time away from my family in 2015, I can relate to patients not having a 'cosy' room to spend quality time with their little ones and felt I could help, therefore we organised the fun day and colour fun run to raise money. 
“I'm going more for the fun than run, however I have been making sure I do 12,000 steps a day and also I try and take my 15-week-old puppy for a jog each evening, but at the moment he seems to be taking me for a jog!
“I feel confident that I will complete the 5k, how covered in paint I'll be may be the only issue as I will be a slow target! It will be great to pass the finish line knowing I'm helping a great cause.” 

In total, the team are hoping to raise £1,000 for Stock Ward. You can support Kelly’s page and her teammate Kim Vanderhoven’s pages here: http://www.justgiving.com/Kelly-Davis20 and http://www.justgiving.com/Kim-Vanderhoven. You can also donate via the team page: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/stock-ward-broomfield-hospital

Sri Kadirkamanathan
Mr Sri Kadirkamanathan, Consultant Upper GI Surgeon, with the robot.

July 21

The future of surgery demonstrated at Broomfield Hospital

Patients, visitors and colleagues had the opportunity to find out more about a state-of-the-art surgical robot, which will replace our existing model, at an event on Monday, July 17.

The Da Vinci Xi was on display in the main atrium at Broomfield Hospital, with demonstrations to take part in and many guests in attendance. 

This precedes the launch of Mid Essex Hospitals Charities Foundation’s forthcoming appeal for more than £1.5million to fund a groundbreaking new surgical robot. It is intended that the current surgical robot will then be used for teaching at Anglia Ruskin University.

The robot and its associated equipment will enhance the treatment we provide to our patients with the latest technology. Benefits include less invasive procedures, quicker recovery times, and patients receiving their operations in a shorter time frame following diagnosis.

We are calling on the community to help us reach our goal by joining in with the campaign. 

It will be an opportunity for Mid Essex to work together to bring this equipment, which has a wide range of clinical applications, to our hospital for the benefit of all.

To donate:

Online: Please go to https://www.justgiving.com/midessexhospitals 

By post: You can send a cheque made payable to Mid Essex Hospitals to: 

MEHT Charities Office, Broomfield Hospital, Pudding Wood Lane, Chelmsford, Essex, CM1 7ET

By text: Text your donation from your mobile phone. Message MEHT01 and the amount to 70070. 

For more information about how you can get involved with the appeal, please contact Charities Manager Yvonne Carter on 01245 514559 or yvonne.carter@meht.nhs.uk


Patient Story: Robotic Surgery Procedure Was the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me

James Reidy, 22, from Ireland

“I suffered from a condition called gastroparesis. It took years to diagnose with no real movement in the right direction until I met a Dr Keith Lindley in Great Ormond Street Hospital when I was 16. He could see there was something wrong and after a barrage of tests they gave conflicting results. He then referred me on to Sri.

“I had been told up until this point that my condition was all in my head which really affected my trust in all doctors and hospitals and still does. It left me feeling even now that if I am unwell I refuse to go and see a doctor. This does not apply to Sri of course, who I am only too happy to see and help in any way possible.

“The journey from diagnosis to surgery was long for me, I was due to sit my A-levels (leaving certificate in Ireland). The week before they were to commence we got confirmation that the surgery was to go ahead on day two of the exams. It was a no-brainer to go for the surgery - the exams were not given a second thought. 

“I underwent a gastro stimulator implant to stimulate my digestion system. It basically makes the food process move faster through my digestion system. The robotic surgery was highly beneficial to me, allowing for extremely precise incisions and the ability to implant the device with greater precision and ease for the doctors involved.

“The recovery time was about a month and a half but due to my condition of gastroparesis being greatly improved, if not completely treated, I did not notice the recovery time of the incisions as much as the improvement felt going from vomiting and feeling nauseous all day every day.

“I improved beyond what I ever thought was possible. I went from being in bed all day every day to being able to do almost anything. It was like a switch was turned and I just became a completely different person. I progressed through school and am now in college doing Business Information Systems. I am sitting on a first class honours average and by this time next year should have my degree. I have also been working in a medium sized accountancy firm as an accounting assistant for the last two weekends and summers. None of this was even being considered before I met Sri. My parents were genuinely worried that I would not be able to have the strength to go and collect benefits up until this point.

“The diagnosis felt only second to the feeling of wellness after having the operation. It was if a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. It was by far the best thing that has ever happened to me meeting Sri and having the operation. Up until I did have the operation I was still sceptical that it would work, this is understandable as I truly did not trust the medical profession to ever get me healthy. 

“The ones I am truly happy the operation affected is my family, who were watching me deteriorate day by day. It gave us all our lives back to live, we were unable to do anything before I had my operation to the point that we couldn’t go for a meal.

 “Last year, at the end of October, I felt tired and unwell again and was frankly unsure what was happening. I put it down to stress, work, college, sports and going out so gave up all except college but got no better. I had an appointment with Sri in January and mentioned it to him only to find a lead to the gastro stimulator had come loose and was not functioning. I of course through all of this refused to go to a doctor. It was fixed through surgery and I am back to my old self again.”

July 21

Healthcare Assistants embark on new careers as nurses following work-based learning initiative

Nine Healthcare Assistants have embarked on new careers as nurses following a work-based learning initiative.

Congratulations to Carla Ewers, Joann Harmon, Karen Hibberd, Michelle Nunas, Kim Radley, Lorraine Radley, Natasha Sainsbury, Caroline Sinclair and Kirsty Taylor on this excellent achievement.

The nurses are now employed in a range of departments across the Trust, and Karen Hibberd is working in a community setting.

Deb Cobie, Project Manager – Nurse Recruitment Lead/OSN Facilitator, RTP and Ward-based Learning said: “The candidates continued their employment as HCAs and were required to complete an 18-month foundation degree. They then undertook an 18-month nurse training course where they worked as HCAs for 22.5 hours a week and as student nurses for 15 hours a week. 

“This takes much hard work, commitment and focus to achieve and I am delighted to see this celebrated within the Trust.”

Kirsty Taylor, who is now a staff nurse on the Surgical Emergency Ward (SEW), said: “I have been working in the Trust for 13 years and I had completed all of the training available to me. I had always wanted to train to be a registered nurse but couldn’t afford to do so, so I jumped at the opportunity when it arose.

“My key memories are making new friends and working in different areas as I had never done so before. My highlights include working out in the community, as I got to experience a different type of nursing and also meeting lots of different people who I wouldn’t usually acquaint with.

“Time management was the biggest challenge for me. Working full-time and ensuring that my essays were in on time was difficult. 

“The requirements for passing the training were two completed portfolios, a number of essays, plus three exams had to be passed - biology, numeracy and a mixture of the two in the last exam - and a 9000 word dissertation.

“I am so proud of myself. I never thought I would be able to complete the training but I have and I am so pleased.”

Natasha Sainsbury, who is now a staff nurse on Stock Ward, said: “I wanted to better myself, learn new skills, and move forward in a career that I love, as well as achieving a degree and fulfilling my potential.

“I loved my placements and having that insight in to other wards - I thoroughly enjoyed my ITU placement. The first year my marks were within the top 10% of the faculty so I was added to the Dean of the university's book of excellence which was a fantastic achievement. 

“The course itself was a challenge, for many of us we had not been in education for a number of years. It was very intense with a lot of the work being done at home as well as working full-time. 

“I feel that I have broadened my horizons and no longer feel trapped in my career. I would not have been able to complete my training if it was not for this WBL course so I am extremely grateful for the opportunity. I love my job and I am very proud of my journey through the bands working for the NHS and thankful for all the opportunities I have been given to be successful. There are so many talented, experienced, skilful, compassionate healthcare workers in this Trust who would not be able to complete their training the normal way, and this course will enable them to reach their goals, which is fantastic.

“I work on a plastic surgery ward, which I worked on prior to completing my training. I am now a registered nurse and feel completely supported by my colleagues, we have a fantastic team and I am growing in confidence all the time, the role change has put a spring in my step and I enjoy coming to work as I finally feel I am fulfilling my potential and putting my experience to good use."

July 20

Developing our options for the future pattern of hospital services in mid and south Essex

Doctors and health care leaders today announced a new development in the options for future hospital services in mid and south Essex. 

In recent months, two main options for change have been discussed with patients, staff and stakeholders. Both options would have seen significant changes to the way the three A&E departments at Broomfield, Basildon and Southend hospitals operate. 

Having studied the available evidence and listened carefully to the views of local people, patients and stakeholders, clinicians and health leaders have now decided to develop a revised model that would enable all three current A&E departments to continue to treat people who need emergency hospital care, including continuing to receive 'blue light' emergency patients with serious conditions. It would rule out the blanket redirection of all 'blue light' ambulances to Basildon, as in previous options. 

Under this plan, patients would be assessed, stabilised and treated in their local hospital, with the most unwell patients transferred to a specialist team, if that's what they need. The 'norm' would be for people to go to their local hospital in an emergency. As before, all three A&E departments would continue to be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and run by consultants. 

As now, a small number of people who are very seriously ill would go straight to a specialist centre to get the best treatment (for example, people suffering severe burns already go to Broomfield in Chelmsford). 

Senior doctors are currently looking in detail at the clinical evidence to see if there are other severe conditions that may require this approach - for example for people suffering from burst blood vessels in the brain or heart, or people with very severe abdominal bleeding requiring urgent emergency surgery. This work is not yet complete but doctors are focusing on it over the next few months. 

Clare Panniker, Chief Executive of Basildon, Broomfield and Southend Hospitals, explained: 

"We have been looking at how we could organise services across our three main hospital sites, working together and using our people and resources as effectively as possible for the greatest benefit for patients. One of the improvements we want to make is to separate out emergency care from planned operations and treatments needing an overnight stay, to reduce the number of times we have to cancel planned operations. We know when this happens it is frustrating and difficult for those patients and their families. We also want our three hospitals to work together, offering different specialist services at each of our sites. We know specialising in this way for those with the most serious conditions and illnesses gives better chances of recovery to our patients.

"In considering our options, we have discussed with staff and local people the benefits of one hospital, possibly Basildon, providing the most serious emergency treatment. But, in the feedback from over 100 local discussion events, we have heard very clearly that some people have significant concerns about all 'blue light' ambulances going straight to Basildon. We have been thinking how we could address these concerns, and still improve patient care with different specialist teams across our three hospital sites and the separation of planned and emergency care." 

Dr Anita Donley OBE, Independent Chair of the Mid and South Essex Success Regime, said: 

"The aim still stands to develop specialist centres across our three hospital sites and to separate planned operations and treatments from emergency care. We know from national evidence that this can improve the quality of care and patients' chances of survival - particularly with very serious cases. But we are working with our clinicians and local people to make sure we develop the right proposals for mid and south Essex. We are developing an option where the majority of patients could get the specialist emergency care they need via their local A&E. 

"No decision on the future pattern of services has yet been taken. We will only decide what changes to make after a full public consultation. 

"We are determined to find the very best solution for delivering excellent, safe, high quality hospital care, within our available funding, into the long-term for people in mid and south Essex."

Clare Francis Locks of Love
Clare and Angela.

July 14

Kind fundraiser to cut her long locks in support of her sister who is undergoing cancer treatment

A kind fundraiser will cut her long locks in support of her sister who is undergoing cancer treatment. 

Clare Francis, 39, from Rayleigh, will have about 17 inches of her hair cut off on July 27, following her sister Angela’s breast cancer diagnosis in April this year. 

The sisters also wish to raise awareness of the disease, encouraging other women to check their breasts and know the symptoms that they should discuss with their doctor. In addition, they want to highlight that although rare, breast cancer can also affect men. 

Clare said: “It came as a devastating shock to Angela and all those close to her. Thrown into turmoil and after the initial shock, Angela stood up to the cancer and continues to do so. She's a tough little cookie and an inspiration to us all; words can't tell you how proud I am of her.   

“Following the diagnosis, Angela became more knowledgeable about breast cancer and the impact that this would have on her and her family going forward. She was immediately on my case too, making sure I checked myself. Angela also feels it's vital for us all to be aware of the signs.   

“To date, Angela has undergone surgery and is currently having chemotherapy. Just one of the many potential side effects of chemo is dealing with hair loss, which is something she is dealing with right now.   

“I think it's fair to say that this is perhaps one of the biggest hurdles to face. Can you imagine how this would make you feel to be stripped of your identity, the heartache of your hair falling out and then facing the world? 

“Currently breast screening is carried out from 50 years old. Angela is 42, she only found out she had breast cancer because she discovered a lump and went to the doctors. This is why it's so important to be breast aware.” 

INFORMATION: You can support Clare via her JustGiving page: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/locks-and-locks-of-love.

Charlotte Okonta
Charlotte Okonta (right) training with her friend Sharon at Southend seafront.

July 7 

Family prepare to “give something back” with a fundraising campaign for the Children’s Burns Club following tragic accident 

A family are preparing to “give something back” with a fundraising campaign for the Children’s Burns Club following a tragic accident.

Charlotte Okonta will trek 50km for the Thames Path Challenge, from Putney Bridge in London, past Hampton Court to Runnymede in Surrey, from September 9-10 in aid of the CBC.

The endeavour will be a test of stamina, determination and an opportunity for Charlotte to build on her experience of walking a marathon last year.

She said: “The inspiration for taking part in this challenge is to give something back to the Children's Burns Club which has supported us as a family following our youngest daughter Alessandra’s tragic accident when she was a toddler.  

“She was extremely brave but the accident has left her with lifelong scars. During this horrific time, the medical care and support given at the Broomfield Hospital Burns Unit was exemplary.

“The support we received from the Burns Unit and subsequently from the CBC has enabled Alessandra to develop into the confident and outgoing young girl that she is. Attending events which the CBC has hosted has given us the opportunity to chat to other families who have shared similar experiences but also for Alessandra to realise that she is not the only child with scars.

“Fitting training in has been tricky but together with my friend I try and accomplish two walks per week and currently we are regularly walking 15k once a week but I know that this has to increase (as does our fitness!) so that we can complete it in a good time.

“I am very much looking forward to crossing the finishing line and hopefully being able to donate a sizable sum to the CBC so they can continue supporting families.”

INFORMATION: You can support Charlotte via her JustGiving page: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/charlotteokonta

July 5

Trust to host ‘Live Well’ event promoting local health services and resources

The Trust will host a range of stands promoting the local health services and resources that are available to patients, staff and visitors next week.

This event is in support of Health Information Week (3 to 9 July) which is a multi-sector campaign to promote the good quality health resources that are on offer to the public. This campaign aims to encourage partnership working across sectors and benefit all staff and the public by raising awareness of these resources.

It will be an opportunity to access a variety of healthcare information, with groups such as the NHS Mid Essex CCG, NHS England, Mid & North Essex Mind and more due to attend on Monday, July 10.

The event will take place in the main atrium of Broomfield Hospital from 10am-3pm. A full list of attendees can be found below:


NHS Mid Essex CCG

NHS England

Mid & North Essex Mind

Mid Essex IAPT

Essex Lifestyle Service

Essex Sexual Health Service

ACE Weight Management

Action for Family Carers (Macmillan) 


“Research makes all the difference”

Bryan is about to start his eighth year in research amongst the tight knit team at ‘Broomfield’s’; the general hospital for Chelmsford and surrounding areas, and the largest in Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust.   The team are an efficient and hardworking bunch, but also a friendly one.  They build a rapport with each and every one of the patients taking part in research at their dedicated clinical research facility, the Helen Rollason Research Centre.  We took some time out with Bryan, to ask him about his experience of working as an Oncology Research Nurse and to find out how he became involved in research.

“I was attracted to research and oncology specifically, after a family experience with cancer. With it being so close to my heart I relished the challenge of working at the forefront of new treatments for cancer.

“Working in cancer research was an emotive decision and one I have never regretted”.

Bryan had worked previously in trauma orthopaedics and then medical oncology before undertaking further studies.

“It didn’t feel like formal training, it was a really positive experience and felt more like part of my role.  Every day I was seeing in practice the things I was learning and it helped it all make sense”.   

Bryan enjoys his role immensely and spoke about its rewards. “It’s gratifying. When a newly diagnosed patient can be offered more options through clinical trials, especially when they previously had very few choices, it gives patients hope. Sometimes we can see them making real progress where there had previously been a bleak prognosis”.  

Any role comes with challenges and in the field of cancer the role is inevitably poignant at times, but Bryan is positive, seeing value too: “If treatments give patients another year of life, we share that experience with them.  We see them have the chance to enjoy a final holiday and time with their family.  It makes tangible changes to peoples’ lives”.

Bryan works hard to continuously raise the profile of research amongst other healthcare professionals within the NHS.  “If more clinicians were aware of research they could help patients to better understand” he explains.  “Patients often don’t know what research is and it’s difficult to steer them away from the perception of being ‘guinea-pigs’ and explain how safe it is and how it really works”.

So why should patients take part? “It’s a valuable opportunity.  Not only for the potential to benefit directly, but also to improve our understanding of conditions.  Research is so important to the innovation of new treatments, when we gain a better understanding of medical conditions we can develop better drugs and treatments to improve patient outcomes”.   

Bryan’s role is part-funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR), who also provide governance and practical support for studies running at the research centre.  “The NIHR provides us with invaluable assistance” Bryan informs. “They help us engage early with pharma companies and support study set-ups, so that we can get trials running quickly.  They assist with study record management and also help monitor progress.  They even offer advice, and let us know how different trusts are performing on studies so that we can share knowledge and best practice with them”.           

Clearly enthusiastic about his work, Bryan is a convincing advocate for research and can validate his passion: “I see tangible improvements in patient outcomes” he says. “I have been privileged enough already to have been involved in trials that led to new forms of standard care, some have totally changed the landscape of treatment in areas of cancer and I know my contribution has had an impact in terms of the treatments patients can be offered”.  

“Every day is a pleasure for me, because research makes all the difference”.