An update from our hospitals

Content originally from Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust

This month, we include information about new, and highly innovative, surgery undertaken for the first time at our Essex Cardiothoracic Centre. Plus new mobile theatres, a redesigned post-natal ward and our space-themed MRI suite.

Redesign of the post-natal ward will improve patient experience

We have made a range of improvements to our post-natal Cedar ward at Basildon Hospital. Carried out in consultation with staff, former patients and members of Maternity Voices, the renovations make the area a more welcoming environment for women and their families.

The new design included moving the midwives’ work station to the centre of the room for greater peace of mind for mums and easier monitoring of women for staff. Shower rooms now also have the small but important added feature of a shelf for toiletries, which means mums who have had a c-section have better access. Patients can also enjoy the calming effect of newly-installed mood lighting.

Lesley Overy, Head of People’s Experience and Engagement, Maternity and Neonatal Services, said: “We’ve really listened to the women who use our service, so we know that even small things will make a positive difference to their experience on the ward after they have had their baby.”

Read more.

Pioneering thoracic surgery

 A new and innovative type of surgery took place for the first time in the region, in the Essex Cardiothoracic Centre (CTC).

Consultant Thoracic Surgeon Mr Minhas, undertook a minimally invasive uniportal procedure on a patient suffering from advanced lung cancer. The uniportal video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) pneumonectomy procedure involved making a 5cm incision on the patient’s left side to remove the lung and carry out an extensive lymph node dissection.

Mr Minhas’ technique meant  that the 63-year-old recovered quickly before being able to receive further chemotherapy. Just five days later, the patient was prescribed antibiotics and was able to return home.

Deputy Director of Operations, Essex Cardiothoracic Centre and MSE Cardiology, Michael Catling said: “The team are working incredibly hard to undertake increased levels of surgical activity as part of our COVID recovery. To also deliver innovative service improvements during this period is really inspiring and a testament to the quality and commitment of the clinical team.”

New space-themed MRI suite opened at Southend Hospital

We have opened a new space-themed MRI suite, designed to take the fear out of having an important scan for children and their families.

The MRI scanner is surrounded by planet and star designs on the wall, as well as a cosmos-inspired sky ceiling, creating the impression of travelling through the stars. Young patients can also watch and listen to their favourite programmes as part of an in-scan entertainment system.

Jacci Dearman, Lead Paediatric Radiographer MRI, said: “This project means we are lightyears ahead in our ability to scan young children. Without this set-up many of these patients would be unable to cope with having an MRI scan. We’ve now successfully scanned children as young as four, which previously would have been impossible without sedation.”

Improving waiting times for patients

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the whole of the NHS, with efforts concentrated on caring for those who needed urgent, life-saving treatment. That meant we had to postpone non-urgent care so that our staff and resources could be redeployed to the areas where they were most needed.

We are taking action to treat those who had their operations postponed, and reduce waiting times once again. As well as utilising all of our diagnostic capacity and our theatres, three additional mobile theatres  – one at Broomfield Hospital, one at Southend and another at Basildon – will be up and running in June.

Waiting times have built up across all specialties, but ophthalmology and orthopaedics have the most people waiting for treatment. For that reason, the mobile unit at Broomfield will operate on ophthalmology patients, and the unit at Basildon will be used for orthopaedic operations. The mobile theatre at Southend will be used for general surgery, meaning we can free up space for more orthopaedic cases in the hospital’s main theatres.

Recovering our planned care

To help care for more patients who are waiting for treatment, we are changing our outpatients services.

Working with partners from across the health and care system, we will use digital solutions and updated processes so staff can work more efficiently. This will ensure that patients receive the right care in the best place.

Work has already begun, with more virtual consultations, the automation of administrative processes, and patient-initiated follow-ups.

There will be many more changes, as we continue to engage with patient and staff groups, and we’ll continue to update our stakeholders regularly with these developments.

New service to improve skin cancer diagnosis

We are supporting the roll-out of the new Skin Analytics tele-dermatology service.

This service offers a faster way to diagnose skin problems, using technology designed to recognise skin cancer and common benign skin conditions from pictures. GPs are then provided with an almost instant decision whether or not a patient needs to be referred to a dermatologist.

Over the coming months, we will be sharing information of this service with staff and patients. We will also be encouraging everyone to adopt sensible behaviour when out in the sun and to be proactive in checking skin lesions. Recognising the signs of skin cancer is crucial to ensure early treatment and better health outcomes.

Garden of Remembrance opened at Broomfield Hospital

We have opened a garden space at Broomfield Hospital to provide staff with a quiet area to reflect and remember colleagues and friends.

The garden features an entrance arch which reads Our Heroes 2020, as well as two sculptures, which have been specially commissioned by the Serbian sculptor Bojan Krstić, and represent people comforting one other. The colour theme for the garden is for all-year-round scented white flowers with green or grey foliage.

Clare Panniker, Chief Executive for the Trust, said: “This is a stunning garden and is a real thank you to all our clinical and non-clinical NHS colleagues for their incredible effort over the last year and beyond. It will make a real positive difference to our staff at Broomfield.”