The GiST, issue 35
Throughout the different waves of the pandemic, the teamwork and tireless efforts of staff across the Trust has been nothing short of inspirational.
I am delighted that the vaccination team at Guy's and St Thomas' has now delivered more than 200,000 COVID-19 vaccines. Read about this fantastic achievement, made possible by the hard work and dedication of our staff.
Earlier this year we were proud to welcome colleagues from Royal Brompton and Harefield as they formally became part of the Guy's and St Thomas' family. This is a once in a generation opportunity to create a lasting centre of national and international importance devoted to the treatment of heart and lung disease in adults and children.
Baby Leo Coe who needed life-saving heart surgery when he was born. Read about how combining our world-leading expertise made a difference.
I hope you enjoy this issue of the GiST.
Dr Ian Abbs, Chief Executive
Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust
Words and photos by Shammi Anand, Matthew Barker,Michael Carden, Sarah Clark, Kelly Cook, Nzinga Cotton,Clare Elliott, Maxine Hoeksma, Daisy Holden, Rebecca Leddy,Alex Metcalfe, Eloise Parfitt, Joe Parry and Lesley Walker.
Cover photo by David Tett.
Print: O'Sullivan Communications
Front cover: Deputy dental matron Cynthia Juma vaccinating a patient at St Thomas' Hospital
We are delighted that the GiST scooped the award for 'Best Corporate Publication – External' at the CorpComms Awards 2019, and a bronze award for 'Best Branded Content Publication' at the Corporate Content Awards 2020.
Photos within the magazine were taken at different stages of the COVID-19 response when guidance for personal protective equipment and social distancing varied.
Scientists, doctors and IT specialists are working together to help researchers gather huge amounts of information on common diseases associated with pregnancy.
The eLIXIR study is the first of its kind to analyse the health links between mothers and their babies as they access healthcare services across south London.
It was launched in 2018 by Professor Lucilla Poston at King's College London, and is being run at St Thomas' Hospital and King's College Hospital.
The project collects information from routine health records and blood samples.
Data is collected from women as they register for antenatal or perinatal care, and from babies on the postnatal ward, or those entering the neonatal intensive care unit.
Any information collected has the personal data removed so it cannot be linked back to an individual.
The study aims to explore the links between physical and mental health among mothers and their children, and to create are source that will analyse the life course of common diseases – from pregnancy to adulthood.
So far, the diverse data includes more than 27,000 women from over 170 different countries, and more than 15,500 babies.
The data is currently being used to examine several conditions, including gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health in pregnancy and afterwards, as well as social and economic factors in maternal and child health inequalities.
An oxygen pipe the length of 10 football pitches was installed at St Thomas' Hospital to help prepare for an increase in patients with COVID-19.
The 1.2km pipe formed part of a new oxygen distribution system, which doubled the capacity previously provided and included wards at Evelina London Children's Hospital.
Oxygen supplies are used for ventilation machines to treat severely ill patients, including those badly affected by COVID-19.
The new system was installed in April 2020 by Guy's and St Thomas' engineering team and principal contractor Medical Air, with support from the facilities management company Artic Building Services and members of the British Army from 36 Engineer Regiment.
Jon Findlay, Chief Operating Officer at Guy's and St Thomas', said: "Constructing the new system was a massive undertaking and required a huge amount of planning. Having the new oxygen pipe installed before the second wave allowed us to vastly increase our critical care capacity to match demand."
Daily Telegraph – Guy's and St Thomas' Chief Nurse Avey Bhatia was interviewed for an extensive 3-page feature on nursing, touching on how the pandemic will shape the future of the profession. Avey said: "I've never been more proud to be a nurse. What we've achieved over the past months is astonishing. It's a hard job but it's a fantastic job."
BBC1 – The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, recorded his New Year message at St Thomas' Hospital. He reflected on his experience volunteering at the Trust as a hospital chaplain during the pandemic, and where he finds hope for the year ahead. The message was broadcast on BBC1 on New Year's Day, BBC2 and covered in most national newspapers and radio stations.
The Sun – Patient Annabel Lovick had a 10-hour operation to remove a tumour from her mouth, and had her tongue rebuilt using tissue and blood vessels from her leg at Guy's Hospital. She has now made a good recovery and shared her story with The Sun to help raise awareness of mouth cancers.
3 members of staff from Guy's and St Thomas' were recognised in the New Year Honours List. Among those to receive the British Empire Medal (BEM) are midwife Mary Sheridan, junior doctor Dr Azeem Alam, and associate chief pharmacist Paul Tunstell.
Mary Sheridan was recognised for services to midwifery. She has been a midwife at Guy's and St Thomas' for 32 years and a lecturer at King's College London for 19 years. Since 2011, Mary has been the lead midwife for the Newborn and Infant Physical Examination (NIPE) programme at St Thomas' Hospital, which screens babies within 72 hours of birth for conditions relating to their heart, hips, eyes and testes.
Dr Azeem Alam received the BEM for services to medical education during COVID-19. He founded BiteMedicine, which provided free medical education for medical students, physician associates and aspiring doctors during the pandemic, teaching more than10,000 students worldwide via live webinars.
Paul Tunstell was recognised for services to the NHS during COVID-19. He led the pharmacy technical services during the pandemic where a large number of special medicines were manufactured to meet the changing needs associated with COVID-19 at Guy's and St Thomas' and in the wider NHS.
Light artists SquidSoup unveiled an immersive art installation named the Tunnel of Light next to one of the vaccination centres at Guy's Hospital. It was donated by Hyundai and was designed to recreate the brightness of the sun and act as a symbol of hope for staff and patients.
We love to hear from our patients, staff and supporters so join the conversation by following us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.
@_rebeccadunne (from Twitter) 14 years ago today Nicole had her life saving heart operation. Forever grateful to all ofthe staff at @EvelinaLondon – without all of their hard work we wouldn't have the amazing, beautiful, clever, funny, perfect girl we have today! Thank you
@allmark21 (from Twitter) Massive respect to all the cleaning crews, nurses, doctors, medical students, soldiers and other staff or volunteers working flat out and doing a truly amazing job at the @GSTTnhs vaccination centre. Absolute heroes!
@WhittakerHelen (from Twitter) I developed a heart arrhythmia some years ago. I was terrified that I might be medically discharged from my job and maybe not even be able to run again. The care I received at Harefield Hospital during diagnosis, EP study & successful ablation was absolutely incredible. #NHSstory
@JBrokenshire (from Twitter) A heartfelt thank you to the amazing NHS thoracic surgical, anaesthetist and theatre teams at Guy's Hospital for performing my lung removal and to the incredible team on Dorcas Ward for getting me through the challenging days since. They are all superstars. @GSTTnhs
Guy's and St Thomas' has become the first NHS trust in London to offer a revolutionary new tattoo-free radiation treatment for breast cancer.
Traditional radiation therapy requires breast cancer patients to be tattooed with 3 small dots to ensure treatment is delivered to the right location.
This leaves a permanent reminder of the experience and has an added emotional impact for some patients.
Now, a surface guided tracking system, AlignRT, projects a visible red light onto the patient's body from 3 camera pods mounted on the ceiling.
It is used to correctly position the patient and then monitor any movement throughout the radiotherapy treatment to within a distance of one millimetre.
If they move it will trigger the radiation beam to automatically switch off so only the tumour is targeted. The new treatment technique will benefit around 1,000 patients each year at Guy's and St Thomas'.
It is available in the Cancer Centre at Guy's, and Guy's Cancer at Queen Mary's Hospital – where it was first trialled.
Jane Markcoons, from Bromley in south east London, is one of the patients to have benefitted. The 60-year-old said: "I was really pleased to find out I wouldn't be left with tattoo marks as the last thing you want is to be reminded of your cancer all the time.
"When lots of women have radiotherapy they have already undergone chemotherapy and may be struggling with hair loss and other side effects so this is one less thing to worry about."
Evelina London has become the first children's hospital in the world to use pop-up isolation rooms to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The hospital has 5 Redirooms which are temporary spaces created to seal off thearea around a bed or a cot in order to isolate patients with infections, including COVID-19.
Coronavirus and many other infections are spread through contact and the air via droplets.
The unit contains a special filter that removes droplets containing micro-organisms from the air.
Shona Perkins, deputy director for infection prevention and control at Evelina London, said: "The Redirooms provide additional space to safely treat and isolate patients with coronavirus and other infections, such as the flu, mumps and meningitis. They are one of the many measures we have taken in recent months to reduce the risk of COVID-19 on our sites."
Alex Metcalfe finds out how research is helping prevent the spread of COVID-19 in A&E.
To keep the public, patients and staff safe it is important to be able to identify people who might spread the COVID-19 virus.
Researchers at the Trust have proved a new test is effective at detecting people with COVID-19 in less than 15 minutes.
The test is now being used in the Trust's emergency department (A&E) to quickly confirm whether patients have COVID-19, including patients who have mild or no symptoms but could still potentially spread COVID-19 when they are admitted to hospital.
Since June 2020, a research team at Guy's and St Thomas' and scientists at King's College London have been working together to improve the accuracy of the test and to see if it could be safely used in hospitals.
The team, led by Professor Jonathan Edgeworth who is a consultant microbiologist, assessed the test's ability to identify patient swabs that contain infectious SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19.
In December 2020, the test started to be used in the emergency department at St Thomas' Hospital with guidance from the Trust's infectious diseases team.
Dr Sam Douthwaite, a consultant in infectious diseases at Guy's and St Thomas', said: "It is fantastic that we have been able to support the implementation of this new, fast antigen test, which we have shown is both safe and effective."
Dr Hooi-Ling Harrison, a consultant in emergency medicine at the Trust, said: "The test has been useful in A&E as it has enabled us to transfer patients with COVID-19 rapidly to the wards to receive ongoing medical care.
"This in turn reduces pressure on the emergency department. It also helps to detect patients who have coronavirus but do not have symptoms, and therefore prevents them going to a non-COVID-19 ward where there is a risk that they infect other patients.
"The test is rapid and easy to perform, so although it is extra work for the A&E team, the clear benefit to patients means that staff strongly support its use.
"Earlier this year, the Government announced it had purchased 20 million of the tests, following its approval by Public Health England. This is the first British made test of its kind that has been approved for use."
- The test is being used on around 700 patients at St Thomas' each week
- During January 2021, the tests identified three patients a day in A&E with unexpected cases of COVID-19 due to mild or no symptoms
Joe Parry talks to the staff psychological and spiritual wellbeing team to find out why caring for Trust staff helps them care for their patients.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the work and personal lives of every member of staff at Guy's and St Thomas'.
To make sure the mental wellbeing of our workforce is cared for, the Trust has expanded its staff psychological and spiritual wellbeing team.
Thanks to donations from supporters of Guy's and St Thomas' Charity, the Trust has recruited several new psychologists who can offer personalised one-to-one wellbeing sessions, as well as support for teams and managers.
For those who have spiritual or religious needs, there are also more chaplaincy staff available in the hospitals and in the community.
Dr Raselle Miller is one of the lead clinical psychologists who is focussing on helping staff from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds to access psychological and wellbeing care.
Dr Miller said: "Part of my role is tailoring the services we offer to make sure people from all backgrounds know that good mental wellbeing is something they deserve.
"I work closely with our equality, diversity and inclusion team to make sure colleagues are aware of the challenges faced by staff who are from Black, Asian and other minority ethnic groups, and also bring a psychological perspective to help support their needs."
She added: "We are all individuals and we all have unique stories, histories and traditions. We need to be able to hear the context of people's experiences and not make assumptions based on their culture. This means we're able to offer the most tailored support for their needs.
"The support is already making a huge difference."
Dr Miller said: "Staff have reported that they have felt valued, understood and cared for following one to-one support sessions, and teams have said that group sessions have helped them in their recovery from difficult experiences."
Dr Shannon Cullerton is the lead clinical psychologist supporting staff who have been working on the frontline during the pandemic across the Trust’s many critical care units.
Dr Cullerton said: "Staff have presented with a range of concerns we would expect to see at this time. These include sleep difficulties, difficulty 'switching off' when not at work, feeling overwhelmed or emotional, as well as physical symptoms such as headaches, tiredness and loss of appetite.
"Critical care staff have also benefited from pet therapy sessions."
Dr Cullerton said: "We recently arranged a visit by the adorable pet therapy dog, Slick. Spending time with animals can help to de-stress and provide a positive distraction from the challenging experiences our critical care colleagues face."
She added: "The Trust's greatest asset is the people who provide patient care. To ensure they can do this in a safe and sustainable way, it is vital we invest in looking after them and prioritise their mental health and wellbeing."
Catherine Lacey, lead psychologist in staff wellbeing for adult community sites, said: "This is an offer for everyone at Guy's and St Thomas'. Accessing support doesn't necessarily mean there's a problem, but it helps staff to share, reflect and cope with their work.
"Getting help is so important for NHS staff because of the nature of the work that we do. Everyone I come into contact with cares so much for their patients. By supporting their wellbeing, we are ensuring they can continue to do so, even when we're not in a pandemic."
Guy's and St Thomas' was one of the very first NHS trusts to vaccinate patients against COVID-19. Kelly Cook finds out more.
Lyn Wheeler made headlines around the world when she became the first patient at Guy's Hospital to receive a vaccination against COVID-19.
The historic moment took place on 8 December 2020 in front of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Lyn, who has 3 children and 4 grandchildren, said: "I had no worries about getting the vaccine and knew it was very important. I was quite pleased it didn't hurt and it was very easily done.
"I haven't had any problems since and feel absolutely brilliant."
The 81-year-old added: "Since having my second jab I've been able to volunteer at a local vaccination centre, greeting people and wiping down the chairs.
"I live alone so it was a thrill to see people in real life, and I wanted to give something back."
Lyn, from Bromley in south east London, is encouraging everyone to get the vaccine when they are eligible.
She said: "I'm delighted the programme has been rolled out so quickly and that millions of people across the country have been brave and had the vaccination, it's remarkable.
"I continue to be hopeful that this will mean we can start to live an easier life – and open the door to a holiday."
At the time of writing, Guy's and St Thomas' had delivered more than 200,000 vaccines against COVID-19. It has taken a huge team effort and involved redeploying Trust staff, and support from members of the British Army.
Guy's and St Thomas' workforce team also worked flat out to recruit and train more than 1,200 people to work in the Trust's vaccination pods, as well as other centres across south east London.
Jo Turville, Director of Improvement and Innovation, said: "All of the staff involved have been so proud to be part of this unique moment in the history of the NHS. We have seen first-hand the positive impact of the vaccination programme on our local communities."
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson received his vaccination at St Thomas' Hospital in March 2021
- 483 new recruits were trained by Guy's and St Thomas' to work in vaccination pods across south east London
- 581 medical, dental, pharmacy and nursing students from King's College London volunteered to help with the delivery of the vaccination programme
- Guy's and St Thomas' delivered its 100,000th vaccine in March 2021
- Mayor of London Sadiq Khan made a virtual visit to the vaccination centre at St Thomas' Hospital in December 2020
People from all walks of life applied to work in the vaccination centres across the Trust.
Kazeem Reaves Odunsi worked as a manager in a gym before becoming a vaccinator at St Thomas' Hospital.
The 44-year-old lost his job during the first and second lockdowns so he looked to the NHS for a new career.
Kazeem said: "I have always loved helping people so the vaccinator role seemed like a good fit. Although I don't have any clinical experience, I received training and was able to use the leadership skills and good customer service that I had learned from my previous jobs."
He added: "The best thing about being a vaccinator is getting to meet people from different cultures, ethnicities and backgrounds.
"By giving someone the vaccine I'm helping to improve their quality of life and bring an end to the pandemic. I'm part of history right now, and it will be with me for the rest of my life."
King's College London students and Great British Bake Off winner, David Atherton, were among those recruited to become vaccinators.
Michael Carden and Sarah Clark explain how combining expertise is making a difference to patients.
When baby Leo Coe had life-saving surgery in the first few hours of his life, he was not only benefiting from new 3D scanning technology, but from partnership working in action.
After a problem with little Leo's heart was spotted at mum Laura's 20 week scan, she was referred to the fetal cardiology unit at Royal Brompton Hospital for further scans.
Leo was diagnosed with Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Drainage (TAPVD), a type of congenital heart disease where the veins that carry oxygenated blood back from the lungs don't connect to the heart in the normal way.
This condition can make babies very sick, and some will need urgent surgery to redirect veins from their lungs to their heart soon after they are born.
But it can be difficult to know which babies will need an early operation from ultrasound scans alone. Thanks to the close working relationship between teams at Royal Brompton and Harefield and Guy's and St Thomas', Laura was referred on to the fetal cardiology team at Evelina London Children's Hospital – currently the only centre in the world to use new 3D MRI technology.
Based on the fetal MRI scans of the heart and lungs, the team were concerned that Leo could become very unwell soon after birth, and arrangements were made for Laura to deliver her baby in the operating theatre at St Thomas’ Hospital, with a surgeon from Royal Brompton Hospital present and ready to perform the surgery as soon as it was needed.
Laura, from Richmond in south west London, said: "The doctors told me that they would give Leo the best chance of life they could. That was all I wanted to hear."
Leo was born at St Thomas' Hospital on 2 July and initially looked to be in good health, but he soon started struggling to breathe and his doctors were able to immediately proceed with vital surgery.
Laura said: "We knew what his condition was and even with planned treatment, babies respond differently to the surgery. It was all a big unknown."
Leo's dad Justin added: "When Leo went for his operation – it was a long wait, but it went well.
"After 12 days in intensive care, then a week on the children's ward, Leo was able to go home. He continues to be closely monitored at Evelina London."
Laura said: "Looking at Leo, you wouldn't know he has a heart condition and had a big operation. We feel incredibly lucky that Leo's condition was picked up.
"The fates were on our side. No-one wants to have a diagnosis like this, but for Leo it might have been a completely different story if his condition hadn't been picked up before he was born.
"This has saved his life. We're so lucky to have benefitted from this great partnership between specialists at Royal Brompton, Guy's and St Thomas' and Evelina London.
"We appreciate so much what all the doctors and nurses have done for Leo and us during this past year. We could never thank them enough."
Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals officially became part of Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust on 1 February 2021, bringing together world-leading expertise in the care and research of heart and lung disease.
Guy's and St Thomas' and Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trusts started working together, and with colleagues across King's Health Partners, to develop plans to transform care for adults and children with heart and lung disease in 2017.
The merger of the 2 organisations is a key step towards achieving these ambitions.
Royal Brompton and Harefield forms a new Clinical Group within the Trust and means an extra 4,000 members of staff have joined the Guy's and St Thomas' family.
Fast facts about Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals
- The largest specialist heart and lung centre in the UK
- Based at 2 main sites: Royal Brompton Hospital in Chelsea, West London and Harefield Hospital near Uxbridge
- Treated more than 450 COVID-19 patients in the first 12 months of the pandemic
- 1 of 5 ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) centres in the UK. ECMO machines oxygenate the blood by taking over the work of the heart and lungs and has been used to treat some of the sickest COVID-19 patients
- Half of the national ECMO capacity now sits within the Trust's newly expanded organisation
- Harefield used to be a tuberculosis hospital but now performs some of the world's most advanced surgery, including more than 3,000 transplants since Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub performed the first double heart and lung transplant in 1983
Hundreds of staff were redeployed to critical care to help look after the Trust's sickest patients during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
To ensure there was enough capacity to meet the increased demand, some areas were converted into additional critical care units, including a dedicated adult intensive care unit in Evelina London Children's Hospital.
Between September 2020 and March 2021, more than 2,700 people with and without COVID-19 were admitted to critical care.
Mark Gayle had 2 spells in the critical care unit at Guy's Hospital. In October last year he had open heart surgery, and in January he underwent a tracheostomy.
The 63-year-old said: "It's the best hospital in the world, they should rename it Good Guy's. The staff are some of the finest people I have ever met in my life, I can't thank them enough."
Restrictions on visitors to reduce the spread of COVID-19 meant Mark's wife and children couldn't visit. They were able to see and speak to him virtually using tablets provided by the Life Lines project and supported by the Family Communications Team.
Mark said: "The nurses around me lip read what I was trying to say and translated it. They were diamonds."
The Trust's critical care capacity reached more than 200 occupied beds during the second wave, 3 times its usual capacity.
Guy's and St Thomas' Chief Nurse Avey Bhatia said: "The way staff have risen to the challenges we have faced has been inspirational. They have redeployed to where they were needed most, working together as one team to do things that we would not previously have thought possible.
"I am extremely proud of what we have been able to do for our sickest patients, many who survived due to the skills, compassion, and kindness of staff."
Across the Trust's 5 hospitals, between September 2020 and March 2021:
- 712 people with COVID-19 were admitted to critical care
- 1,990 patients were admitted to critical care without COVID-19
- 173 people required care using an ECMO machine, which takes over the work of their heart and lungs
- Almost 2,000 staff redeployed to critical care from a wide variety of roles
During the second wave of the pandemic, staff across the Trust worked hard to keep as many services running as possible.
In hospital and across the local community, clinical and non-clinical teams found new and different ways to ensure that patients were able to continue receiving care safely.
Appointments took place virtually wherever possible, a range of measures were put in place to protect patients requiring face-to-face care, and the Trust worked with local partners to prioritise those people who needed life-saving treatment, and the most urgent surgery.
Colleagues in the community worked hard to support patients and vulnerable people in the places they call home, and to keep them out of hospital where possible.
Administrative staff and other colleagues volunteered to take on new roles, while teams from estates and facilities – including catering, waste management and many more – have played an invaluable part in keeping services going.
Expert clinicians and scientists from the Trust have continued to carry out vital research, including into COVID-19, as well as developing new diagnostic tests and treatments.
Chief Executive Dr Ian Abbs said: "Throughout the pandemic I have witnessed, firsthand, the way our staff have responded to the challenges of COVID-19. I am immensely proud of their resilience and dedication to providing the best care possible for all of our patients.
"The teamwork and tireless efforts of everyone across the Trust in clinical, non-clinical and volunteer roles, has been nothing short of inspirational."
Daisy Holden looks at how Evelina London plans to care for more children and young people.
Exciting plans have been revealed for a bigger and better Evelina London Children's Hospital.
Since the children's hospital opened in 2005, the number of children and young people who are cared for from London and across the south east has more than doubled.
Over the next 6 years, the Trust plans to construct a new hospital building joined to the existing children's hospital.
A bigger hospital will mean even more children and young people will be treated, and more leading edge treatments developed.
More care will also be provided for the growing number of children with complex conditions and it will allow the Trust to bring more services together in one place.
It will also provide space to expand specialist heart and lung services as, subject to consultation, children's services will move from Royal Brompton Hospital to an expanded Evelina London in around 5 to 6 years' time.
Marian Ridley, Director of Evelina London, said: "Our expansion is vital to meet the growing demand for our specialist care. A bigger hospital will mean we can meet the needs of the sickest children with the most complex conditions from across the country.
"During this exciting planning phase, we want to ensure we are putting patients, families and staff at the heart of what we do by listening to all of their views, remaining at the forefront of innovation and ensuring we can adapt as we continue to grow."
The new building will be bright, welcoming, and use the latest technology to provide the right care for every patient. Spaces will be flexible so that they can adapt to the changing needs of patients and families, and services in the future.
The designs have been submitted to Lambeth Council and the Trust hopes to receive planning permission later in the year.
Construction of a new day surgery centre is already underway and will provide family-friendly space that offers everything children and young people need for surgery in one place, including pre-surgery checks, recovery, and preparation to return home.
As a specialist children's hospital on the same site as St Thomas' Hospital which has maternity, an emergency department and other adult services, Evelina London is unique in London and one of a few hospitals in Europe able to offer children and families a comprehensive range of services from before birth to old age.
For more information and to see the latest designs, visit the Evelina London website we are growing page.
The new hospital building will include:
- 100 additional beds
- 20 additional critical care beds
- 14 new operating theatres and procedure rooms
- specialist imaging facilities
- more spaces for patients and families to relax, including a roof terrace
The @home team are helping COVID-19 patients get treatment in the place they call home. Maxine Hoeksma finds out more.
When retired GP Max Gammon and his wife, Rowena, developed COVID-19 at the end of last year, they were keen to stay out of hospital.
Max, 85, from Bermondsey, said: "I was immensely weak. I've had bad problems with my breathing before, but I have never felt so ill in the whole of my life."
Rowena, a 63-year-old teacher, added: "We never saw the New Year in, we both went down, but it really came to Max. It was massively helpful to have the team from Guy's and St Thomas' come in to our home because neither of us wanted to go to hospital."
Max, who is also a former surgeon, has several pre-existing conditions, including a pulmonary embolism which is a blocked vessel in the lungs. He was offered support by Guy's and St Thomas' @home team which provides intensive medical care and therapy to severely unwell patients with COVID-19 at home.
The couple's son, Joshua, who lived with the pair at the time, said: "There was an assortment of doctors and nurses and carers from the @home team. They nursed dad back to health and provided oxygen, with the consent of the GP. They were fantastic, every single one."
In response to the pandemic, the @home team quickly upskilled and expanded its team of 80 clinicians including doctors, nurses, therapists and rehabilitation workers.
They provided support to more than 100 patients with COVID-19 at home – from the severely ill coming to the end of their lives and who were unlikely to benefit from intensive care in hospital, to people with several long-term conditions who wanted to avoid going into hospital.
The team was also there for care home residents, and people leaving hospital who needed rehabilitation after treatment for COVID-19.
Dr Rebekah Schiff, a consultant geriatrician who cared for Max, said: "We have been able to offer a real choice between staying at home and going to hospital for this very frail group of patients.
"We provided the same treatments in their homes as they would have received in hospital. For some people it's better for them to be treated at home."
The @home team offer care including steroids to help with inflammation of the lungs and anticoagulants to prevent blood clots. They also work closely with the Trust's respiratory teams to ensure that oxygen therapy can be provided safely in people's homes.
Maria Oyston, service lead for the @home service, said: "The whole team have been amazing throughout, doing lots of new things our service has never done before. They've dealt with the pandemic on a personal level – the anxieties, the loss of family members and so on – and still manage to come in and give it their all."
- Before COVID-19, 10% of patients seen by the @home team were the most complex, high-risk patients. In January 2021,that figure rose to 62%
- A new swabbing service was launched where nurses could provide same day COVID-19 testing to patients needing urgent nursing home placements. This meant results were known before someone moved into a home
- Over the last year, the @home service has seen around 2,900 patients across Lambeth and Southwark
Patients who experience continued weight loss or are malnourished after having COVID-19 are benefiting from a new virtual clinic designed to help with their recovery at home.
The rapid access dietetics clinic sees patients with a range of illnesses who are clinically well enough to be discharged from hospital but remain undernourished.
Many of the patients are housebound and vulnerable older people. The dietitians carry out a telephone assessment of the patient's dietary needs within 2 weeks of hospital discharge, and provide a range of support including advice on foods and fluids to help increase their nutritional intake.
The dietitians work closely with community teams, social care providers and the voluntary sector to ensure people get the food they need, which includes help to access food banks.
They also support patients living in care homes across Lambeth and Southwark.
Michelle Duffy, acting clinical lead for the nutrition and dietetics department at St Thomas' Hospital, said: "The rapid access clinic is a really good way of making sure that the patients most at risk of further nutritional decline when they return home are seen quickly and a care plan is put in place that reflects their ongoing needs."
Anas Nasir, biomedical scientist in Viapath's blood transfusion laboratory.
Q: What does your job involve?
A: I test patient blood samples to help diagnose different conditions. A lot of decisions made by clinical teams rely on results generated by the lab. We can use blood samples to see if a treatment is working, and can use the results to see if the patient has got better. Our team also manages the Trust's blood stock so when a patient needs blood, we can give it to them as quickly as possible.
Q: Has your role changed during the pandemic?
A: We took part in the national convalescent plasma trial to see whether blood plasma from those who had already had COVID-19 could improve the outcome for people who currently had COVID-19. The trial ended at the end of last year when it was found there wasn't enough evidence to support. However it was still a great trial to be a part of. Negative results can also be very important.
Q: What's your favourite part of the role?
A: Working at a big organisation like Guy's and St Thomas' in such a culturally diverse city, the range of things that we see is amazing. I enjoy learning new things and passing that knowledge on to others. We have a saying in the lab 'behind every sample there's a patient'. We do our utmost to care for those patients as best we can. It's always nice when you get a call from a patient's care team letting us know that our work has made a difference to how they are doing.
Q: How did you get into this?
A: I always loved science at school and enjoyed problem solving and finding out how things work. It was a natural progression to go into healthcare because I wanted to use my curiosity and knowledge to help others. After finishing a degree in biomedical science, I applied for a training post at Guy's and St Thomas'. Since then I have worked through my training to become a specialist biomedical scientist.
William Sharpe, senior chaplain and deputy team leader.
I'm a senior member of the chaplaincy team and I have supported staff, patients, families and carers at Guy's and St Thomas' in various roles since I started as a volunteer in 2004.
I have the best job in the world. It's very fulfilling when you can have a positive impact on someone's day. As a chaplain, part of my role has been working alongside nurses, providing spiritual, ethical and pastoral support to patients and their families, and also working very closely with the palliative team to provide end of life care.
We also support staff, particularly around bereavement. We are often a metaphoric shoulder to cry on. Since October last year, I have had a new role funded by Guy's and St Thomas' Charity as part of the staff psychological and spiritual wellbeing team.
Along with a team of 3, we support staff working in the community, making sure they know they are an important part of the Guy's and St Thomas' family.
We know from the first wave of the pandemic how stretched staff are, and how important it is to offer holistic care and wellbeing to them, particularly after a tough day.
Community staff are busy, it's a fast paced environment, so we have developed protected time for staff to come and have an open conversation with us. It's often just being there – listening to their stories and challenges, and sometimes being silent and letting them talk through issues. It's a real honour to get up in the morning and to bring a smile to someone's face. That's a blessing and privilege.
Kelly Cook shines a light on the first black nurse to work in the NHS who trained at St Thomas' Hospital.
Her story may not be well known, but Kofoworola Abeni Pratt has been inspiring nurses to break boundaries in their own careers.
Born in Lagos, Nigeria, in 1915, Kofoworola came to the UK in 1946 and was the first black student to attend the Nightingale Training School for Nurses at St Thomas' Hospital.
Despite being married with a son, she qualified as a state registered nurse in 1950, at a time when it was unusual for a married woman to take up nursing.
Kofoworola became a staff nurse at Evelina London Children's Hospital in 1952, then a charge nurse at St Thomas' Hospital the following year.
She returned to Nigeria in 1954 and was initially denied a post as a ward sister because the position was only open for British expatriates.
Within 10 years, Kofoworola was appointed matron of the University College Hospital in Ibadan – the first Nigerian to hold the position.
Following the country's independence, Kofoworola set up a nursing school at the University of Ibadan in 1965, which was the basis for modern nursing practices in the country.
Among her many posts, she became Chief Nursing Officer for Nigeria and was the first black woman to be named Vice-President of the International Council of Nurses.
In 1973, Kofoworola was awarded the Florence Nightingale Medal, the highest international merit for a nurse, and she was made an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Nursing in 1979.
Alice Denga, Head of Nursing for Women's and Gynaecology at Guy's and St Thomas', said: "I am in awe of Kofoworola and how she managed to break barriers throughout her career.
"Her determined spirit shows that you should never allow anything to distract you from pursuing a dream. She has inspired me to overcome challenges in my career, to persevere and to never give up."
Kendra Schneller, a nurse practitioner in the Health Inclusion Team at Guy's and St Thomas', said: "Kofoworola has been an inspiration to me because despite the challenges she faced working as the first black nurse in the NHS, and in her native Nigeria, she did not let that hold her back from pursuing her goals.
"Her experiences have paved the way for black nurses like myself to be determined to achieve, and to continue the belief that we are the change makers and our efforts must continue."
Both Alice and Kendra became Nightingale Nurses in 2020, having received the Nightingale Nurse and Midwife Award.
The award is unique to Guy's and St Thomas' and is given to nurses and midwives who provide evidence from their managers, peers and patients of their outstanding practice and how they daily demonstrate the Trust's values.
They also have to complete a programme of academic work accredited by King's College London. The Nightingale Nurse and Midwife Award is part of the Nightingale Academy at Guy's and St Thomas', which launched in 2017 to transform education, innovation and research in nursing and midwifery.
Foundation Trust life
Heather Byron reflects on the last year in her new role as lead governor.
Governors play a vital role in ensuring that local people, staff and all those who use Guy's and St Thomas' services have a say in how the Trust is run.
Heather Byron was elected as the new lead governor at Guy's and St Thomas' in January 2020.
She has been a patient governor for more than 3 years as her daughter is under the care of Evelina London, and both her children were born at St Thomas' Hospital.
Heather, from Battersea, said: "I felt really indebted to the Trust so wanted to give back, and thought it was a nice time to step up and take on a bit more responsibility.
"I wanted to use my professional experience to help and support governors navigate their way through some big changes at the Trust, including the merger with Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals.
Heather has had a successful career in business consulting, and previously chaired The Children's Society fundraising committee. Just a few months after taking on the lead governor role, the pandemic struck and the country was put into lockdown.
Heather said: "Like the rest of the Trust, the governors had to quickly change the way we worked so our meetings became virtual. Governors act as a link between members and the Trust Board so it was really important that we stayed connected and were able to fulfil our role without putting extra pressure on the executive team."
Heather is encouraging more people to become members of the Trust.
She said: "We need people of all backgrounds and experiences to get involved, so we better reflect the population we serve."
Claudette Lawrence explains why she decided to become a member of the Trust after having surgery at Guy's and St Thomas'.
As a Foundation Trust, Guy's and St Thomas' has a membership made up of patients, carers, staff and local people.
The Trust counts on members for feedback, local knowledge and support, as well as to vote in the Council of Governors elections.
Claudette Lawrence, from Thamesmead in south east London, signed up to be a member at the end of 2020.
The 51-year-old said: "My dad has been a member for years and encouraged me to join after I had parathyroid surgery. I'm disabled and suffer with agoraphobia so found coming into the hospital, and staying overnight, particularly difficult."
"But the staff went above and beyond to accommodate me and my dad, and the care I received was absolutely amazing. Becoming a member was my way of giving something back."
Claudette is a community champion where she lives, and has been campaigning for years to support people with mental health issues.
She said: "Most of the conditions that I suffer from are invisible. I hope my voice will make a difference for people with hidden disabilities, and encourage others to get involved in opportunities at the Trust."
On a recent visit to Guy's Hospital, Claudette was pleased to see the sunflower lanyards in action.
She said: "The sunflower lanyards are there for people who have a disability that you might not be able to see. They are for people who want to let staff know that they may need some extra help. I was happy to see that they were available straight away at the reception desk, and all the staff I came across were so friendly and really helpful."
For Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals call 020 7352 8121, email [email protected] or visit the Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals website becoming a member page.
The governors are your elected representatives and are keen to hear your views. If you have a question,comment or idea please [email protected] or call 020 7188 7346. All members can vote in the Council of Governors elections so don't forget to take part. Voting will close on Tuesday 18 May.
Do you want to help shape the future of Guy's and St Thomas'?
We are delivering a number of programmes to transform and improve the way we provide care for adults and children across our hospitals and community services.
To help support these, we are planning a range of events and activities throughout 2021 and invite you to take part.
We are currently looking for patients, carers and Foundation Trust members who are interested in:
- using technology to deliver healthcare (such as electronic records and phone apps)
- children's services
- help us design our new Evelina London building
- help us review Evelina London services
- outpatient services
- heart and lung services
If you want to get involved in any other Trust services or programmes, we would like to hear from you too. Get in touch and let us know what you are interested in.
How do I find out more?
To receive updates on upcoming events, complete the patient and public engagement form.
Do I need to come to the hospital or community sites to take part?
To help keep everyone safe, all events and activities will beheld remotely by video call, over the phone or in writing.
Wherever we can, we will adapt activities and provide support so that you, or someone you care for, can take part.
Raise money for your hospitals and community services
For all the latest news about our amazing fundraisers and how you can support Guy's, St Thomas' and Evelina London, follow @GSTTCharity on Twitter and like the GSTTCharity Facebook page and evelinalondonchildrenscharity Facebook page.
Last updated: May 2022