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December 2018

Tesla donation

28 December

Wizard Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day After Car Donation

Wizard ward experienced some Christmas magic when they received a donation of a mini electric car from the Tesla Owners’ Group.

The red battery-powered Tesla was brought in by electric car owners Peter and Anne Smoothy. Its arrival caused quite a stir on Wizard - a ten-bed ward for children having routine day-case surgery - as it features working headlights, a horn and gearbox, giving young patients an authentic driving experience, albeit at a greatly reduced speed.

A referral scheme which saw existing Tesla owners rewarded with a mini electric Tesla prompted the owners’ group to explore the idea of donating their prizes to charity. But the idea really took off when Elon Musk, CEO of the California-based company, got involved.

Peter Smoothy explained: “The idea was born to give the cars away to hospitals and other good causes as not all owners had children or grandchildren they could give them to, but it progressed and we decided to start fundraising. Then Elon Musk himself gave us a big fat donation and we were able to buy more cars with a manufacturer’s discount. We’ve now donated 117 to hospitals and children’s hospices throughout the country. 

“The car could be used for anything from the child driving themselves down for treatment to having fun on the ward. The car’s fairly robust, so we just hope everyone will have a really nice time using it.”

Victoria Bird, senior sister on Wizard ward, said: “The car has been on the top of my wish list for I don’t know how long. I’ve been running children’s day stay for fourteen years and to me this is the icing on the cake. It’ll make such a difference to children who have hyper anxieties or have had previous bad experiences in surgery. Going off to theatre in a car, I mean, who doesn’t want to do that? It’s incredible.”

Terry Haywood

20 December

Man of Steel Terry Rows Marathon for Maternity Unit

Personal trainer Terry Haywood, 56, broke into the world age-group top ten with a marathon row to raise money for the WJC Birth Centre in Braintree.

Fitness fanatic Terry rode a Concept 2 rowing machine at Dunmow Leisure Centre for an incredible 3hrs 8mins, covering 42,195 metres (26.2 miles). He also sailed past his fundraising target of £2000 and hopes to have raised over £3000 by the time all donations are in.

Terry first rowed a marathon five years ago with no preparation: “It was the hardest thing I’d ever done, and I said, ‘I’m never doing that again.’ I had a blister the size of a 50 pence piece on my right buttock and I’ve still got the scar.”

But after encouragement from his wife Lindsay – a midwife at WJC – and the promise of £500 sponsorship from a client, he decided to take up the challenge.

“I’d toyed with the idea and then remembered how horrible it was. But my wife said, ‘How about if you did it for a good cause?’ And I couldn’t think of a better cause than raising money for the birthing unit.”

With experienced marathon runner Lindsay directing his training, Terry covered over 500,000 metres in the build up to the big day.

“The game plan was to keep pace between 2:05 and 2:06 per 500m but I felt so strong at the beginning I went off too fast. The plan was to pick it up in the last ten thousand, but when it came to it, I didn’t have that pick-up in me. That last ten thousand was horrible. I focussed on the monitor and was pretty much oblivious to what was going on around me.

“I didn’t quite get the time I wanted – I wanted to get under three hours. But that puts me eighth in the world for my age so I’m not too disappointed.”

Terry was powered by water, jelly babies and sliced Mars bars and burned over 2500 calories – the recommended daily intake for an adult.

So what’s next for Terry?

“I’m going to have another go at the rowing marathon and try to get it under three hours. I’ll do that in March-April time. And I’d like to see how many burpees I could do in an hour. I did a burpee mile on an athletics track and did between 900 and 1000 burpees in that time.”

And is Terry the fittest 56-year-old in the country?

“There’s always someone fitter but I like to think I’m reasonably fit. I work at it pretty much every day and I have done since I was twelve years old.”

Tim Blake in Zambia
Tim Blake in Zambia

13 December

‘Chaplains are treated with a great deal of deference… patients and staff would bow as we passed’

Broomfield Hospital’s lead chaplain Tim Blake reflects on his latest trip to Zambia and an emotional graduation

Thirteen years ago, Tim and his wife Sue began sponsoring a 12-year-old Zambian girl called Doreen Nankonde.

Her father had died when she was four. She had five older siblings and a younger brother. Her mother had no income and no means of supporting the family. In a country were two-thirds of the population live in poverty, Doreen’s future looked bleak.

But thanks to a community sponsorship scheme, Tim and Sue were able to offer support.

Now 25, Doreen has just qualified as a nurse from the University Teaching Hospital Zambia in the capital Lusaka. Tim made the journey to watch her graduate.

It was Tim’s sixth trip to Zambia, visiting as part of MEHT’s Out to Africa project. Out to Africa links MEHT with peers at the UTH, and is the brainchild of Mid Essex consultant vascular surgeon Tom Browne.

For Tim, who joined Broomfield in 2016, it was a happy coincidence as he’d been involved in projects in Zambia through his church connections. He first travelled there in 2003.

Zambia is a landlocked country in south-central Africa. It has a population of 16.5m and shares a border with eight countries – DR Congo, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and Angola.

Despite Chinese and Indian investment, Zambia remains scared by poverty and a lack of basic resources. Tim explains: ‘I’ve seen huge changes in Zambia in the last ten years, with massive investment in infrastructure projects, however the poverty is still incredibly extreme. All of us at Broomfield would be shocked to visit a Zambian hospital. 

‘The University Teaching Hospital Zambia has eighteen hundred beds but in reality it has far more. In-between beds there are mattresses, and families camping in corridors.

‘They don’t have the equipment or medicines they need. There are people in palliative care who they’re trying to care for with paracetamol. But there are miracles done, wonderful work. The compassion demonstrated by many of the staff really is amazing. Four weeks ago they did Zambia’s first kidney transplant at UTH - it’s astonishing.’

As well as taking the opportunity to visit Out to Africa projects including the computer school and an orphanage which is home to 80 children, Tim also went on ward rounds with his Zambian counterpart, Father Godwin Malenga.

‘It was a great opportunity to meet people, pray with people, and just talk to people in need. They were very open, very grateful. Chaplains are treated with a great deal of deference. As we walked down corridors, patients and staff would bow as we passed. I think we should institute that at Broomfield!’

But for Tim, the undoubted highlight was watching Doreen’s graduation.

‘There was a very moving moment when they dim the lights, all the nurses have a candle and they recite a promise to be compassionate and caring. There were around three hundred nurses taking part in the ceremony. It was very moving.’

Doreen, who had to contend with appendicitis during the examination period, invited Tim back to her family home for a congratulatory meal.

‘There was lots of celebration. We sat and laughed together – they’re a lovely family, and very very grateful. We’ll stay in touch. By supporting Doreen through her schooling and nurse training it’s relieved some of the financial pressure on the rest of the family. It’s very humbling.’

When asked if there is any chance of Doreen joining him at Broomfield, Tim is unequivocal about where her skills should be put to use.

‘Doreen has said she’d like to nurse in the UK but I said to her, "Zambia needs its nurses."'


Charlotte Lomas

29 November

Inspirational Nurse wins Pride of Essex Award

A nurse who is fighting a life-shortening medical condition has been crowned the Ultimate Pride of Essex.

Charlotte Lomas, 28, graduated with a 1st class degree in nursing from Anglia Ruskin University and now works full-time at the Broomfield Hospital Burns unit despite suffering debilitating illness and having a cardiac arrest during her training.

In 2014, Charlotte was working as a healthcare assistant when she had a seizure and ended up in hospital. It was the first of 163 seizures in eight months, the worst of which left her in a coma in intensive care. 

After starting her degree in March 2015, Charlotte’s studies were regularly interrupted by spells in hospital at Broomfield and St Barts in London where she was treated for malabsorption as her weight plummeted.

Cardiac arrest 

Charlotte retuned to university and controlled her chronic pain with steroids until she collapsed while on placement at Broomfield, had a cardiac arrest and had to be resuscitated with CPR. 

Following a six-week stay in hospital, Charlotte spent the next six months recovering at home in Maldon. She had a 150cm nasal feeding tube fitted to help control her weight and, as Charlotte’s mobility was severely limited, her mum quit her to job to become her full-time carer.

Charlotte was diagnosed with polyglandular autoimmune syndrome and then mast cell activation syndrome. White bloods cells are attacking glands, tissues, her heart and muscles. She describes her body as ‘attacking itself from the inside’.  

Tragically, doctors believe this will significantly shorten Charlotte’s life. 

For the family, the situation is even more upsetting as Charlotte’s father has been diagnosed with incurable cancer. 

However, Charlotte refuses to be beaten by her illness and was determined to complete her studies. She crammed a year’s work into seven months and graduated last summer.

Despite her incredible achievements, Charlotte - who is a keen horse rider and established a riding scheme for the disabled - was shocked to win the top award at the Pride of Essex ceremony. 

‘When my name came up on the screen, it felt like it wasn’t really happening. It was incredible. I’ve never had a feeling like it. I can’t ever imagine someone looking at me and thinking I’m inspiring. I just want to live. I’m doing everything I can to do that.’ 

‘Broomfield saved my life’ 

Charlotte is incredibly passionate about her job and the positive impact staff and colleagues at Broomfield have had. 

‘I’ve always wanted to work in the Burns unit and my colleagues have been so supportive. They’re always there to help me but also just treat me as a normal person.

‘I owe my life to the NHS. Nobody can cure my condition but they’re managing it in the best possible way. I’ve had world-class treatment and I feel so lucky to be able to give something back by working here. Broomfield saved my life. 

‘When you’re chronically ill, you feel so isolated and alone, especially being a young person, you miss out on so much. When you see other people with illnesses still living a life you think, ‘There is a life out there for me,’ and that pushes you on.

‘If I could do that for just one person, it would be worth it to make someone else not feel so alone.’

Jo Myers at BAPRAS

6 December

Jo Puts Plastic Surgery Nursing in the Spotlight

Jo Myers, associate director of nursing, was one of the key speakers on nurses’ day at the British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons’ (BAPRAS) winter meeting.

The event, held at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in Westminster, brought together the most influential voices in plastic surgery for three days of speeches and seminars. 

The nursing arm of BAPRAS had not been active for a decade, so when the association was looking for engaging speakers to help resurrect the nurses’ day, Jo was top of the list.

Jo explains: ‘’I was approached by BAPRAS and I indicated I’d be keen to support them. They said, ‘That’s great, would you talk on the history of plastic surgery nursing?’ I said yes, but I wonder if that’s because I’m so old now I’m part of that history!’’

When Jo began researching her presentation, she was surprised at the lack of historical documents available: ‘‘The Warner Library, particularly Ian, were so supportive. His initial search showed there was nothing on the history of plastic surgery nursing, but he dug deeper and contacted QVH East Grinstead where they found a few gems.

‘’The first record we found was from around 1850 where there was an account of nursing patients with hare lip and palate, what we now call cleft. But until the First and Second World Wars - with the survival of airmen with burn injuries, and then with the formation of the NHS - it wasn’t until the 1930s and 40s that plastic surgery began to establish itself as a specialty.’’

Despite having 33 years’ experience in burns and plastic surgery, Jo admitted to some nerves before addressing the crowd of over 120 nurses, therapists and doctors, including a number of from MEHT.

‘‘As soon as I started speaking the anxiety went because the passion is there. I wanted my presentation to recognise what’s important. The patient is the centre of it all, but the staff you work with are all-important at achieving a great outcome for the patient. If I’ve manged to inspire some enthusiasm for the nurses’ day then that’ll be great.’’

From Billericay to Broomfield

Jo moved with the St Andrews Centre when it transferred from Billericay to Broomfield in 1998, and told us about patients who’d had a big impact on her:  ‘‘I particularly remember a young lady I looked after in my first year in Billericay was knocked over in a multi-storey car park. She had a lot of surgery but unfortunately had to have a leg amputation. As a young woman this was a huge event for her and she went through an awful lot. We still exchange Christmas cards.

‘‘There was also a young man who was 15 when he touched an overhead cable with a fishing rod and received an electrical burn. He really sits in my mind because at the time we looked after him, my son was the same age. He had a challenging time in his recovery but he’s gone on to do really well and now has a family.’

Jo has been a vice-chair of the British Burn Association, made four trips to the West Bank to help develop a model for burn care in Palestine, and twice visited Zambia as part of the Mid Essex Out to Africa team, so what keeps her motivated? 

‘’I’ve worked in plastic surgery and burns since I qualified in 1985 and I’m passionate about the speciality. Throughout my career as part of the St Andrews service, I’ve had fantastic support and I really appreciate that. The staff here, not only in my own division but across the whole organisation, keep me coming to work.’’