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The hospitals’ charity providing the extras that make visits better for patients

PUBLISHED: 17:00 17 November 2012

A RapidArc machine in action

A RapidArc machine in action

Archant

»Medical technology is changing lives for the better, but rather than being paid for by the NHS, it has been funded by ordinary, and some extraordinary, men and women.

Whether it is making hospital surroundings less “clinical”, or providing equipment which can make the trauma of being treated less painful, King George & Queen’s Hospitals Charity has one clear aim – to make our hospitals better.

Last year, the charity spent £811,000 across both King George, Barley Lane, Goodmayes and Queen’s, Romford.

But why isn’t the breakthrough equipment, the extra-comfortable chairs for parents whose children are in hospital and the green and pleasant surroundings paid for by the NHS?

It only provides the necessities.

The charity funds projects that “make the hospital experience a better one for our patients and visitors”.

And there are many who can attest to that.

Head of fundraising Chris Stevens said: “When you talk to people from the local area who are going through a tough time at hospital, you realise how much that extra bit of help can make things a bit better.”

Last week the charity was relaunched with a new name, having previously been known as BHR Hospitals Charity.

And with an eye on the future, it wants to reach out to people across Redbridge and surrounding boroughs and encourage them to dip into their pockets and support the good cause.

Having created the Lavender Garden at Queen’s Hospital to give patients and their families a place to go for quiet reflection, it now wants to do the same at King George.

The money spent by the charity is kept in an account which is separate from that of the trust.

Strict guidelines and procedures are in place to ensure money is spent “complimenting and enhancing the work of the NHS”, rather than subsidising it.

Staff, or even patients, can suggest how money is spent on improving the hospitals, and putting a smile back on the faces of people in their hour of need.

CASE STUDY

It has taken years to raise the almost half a million pounds needed, but it could help revolutionise treatment for cancer patients.

RapidArc is a radiotherapy machine that can dramatically shorten treatment times.

What can be a 15-minute process with mainstream equipment could be completed in just two minutes with the £480,000 machine.

The system gives a pinpoint reading of where the radiation waves need to be targeted, sparing other parts of the body, such as organs, from radiation.

This will mean fewer side-effects for patients.

Dr Seeni Naidu, head of radiotherapy and medical physics, said the technology is one of the “greatest achievements of humans”.

He added: “Faster treatment is not only better for the patient’s comfort, but also has the added advantage of reducing the probability of the patient moving during treatment, as repositioning the patient can make the treatment even longer.”

The money was raised through the King George & Queen’s Hospitals Charity, because the equipment – now at Queen’s Hospital, Romford – is outside of the NHS’ funding remit.

Jackie Hartigan, lead radiographer for radiotherapy, described RapidArc as a “major advance in patient care”.

She said conventional intensity-modulated radiation therapy treatments – as they are known – are slower and more difficult to deliver.

This is because the radiation beams are targeted at the tumour using a complex sequence of fixed beams from multiple angles.

The new equipment has 360-degree capabilities.

The first patient to benefit from the equipment has been identified and will start using it within the next month, with more to be treated beyond that.


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