The GiST, issue 38
Every year staff working in the Amputee Rehabilitation Unit care for around 100 people, helping them to return to living independently.
Based at Lambeth Community Care Centre, the inpatient unit provides specialist rehabilitation, wound care and counselling services to help patients such as our magazine cover star Michael Gold – who has had a major amputation. Read Michael’s inspirational story.
1 in 8 men will get prostate cancer but it is even more common in Black men with 1 in 4 getting the disease. Read about the Brother to Brother, Man to Man group that was set up by Guy’s Cancer to improve support for Black men with prostate cancer.
The new Diagnostic Centre at Royal Brompton Hospital provides the very latest in imaging technology to help diagnose heart and lung disease. Read about a special visit to the centre by The Princess Royal.
The RHS Chelsea Flower Show’s award-winning Florence Nightingale Garden has been rebuilt at St Thomas’ Hospital. Find out how it is providing a place of respite and recovery for our patients and staff.
Guy’s and St Thomas’ is accredited as a Veteran Aware Trust and has signed the Armed Forces Covenant. Find out how we support reservists, veterans, volunteers and their families.
You can also learn about Princess Omo-Oba Adenrele Ademola, the daughter of a significant king in southern Nigeria, who trained as a nurse at Guy’s Hospital during World War II.
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 Matthew Barker, Luke Blair, Sarah Clark, Kelly Cook, Nzinga Cotton, Azmina Gulamhusein, Maxine Hoeksma, Daisy Holden, Stephanie Jury, Rebecca Leddy, Eloise Parfitt, Joe Parry, Anamika Rath and Lesley Walker.
Cover photo by David Tett.
Print: O'Sullivan Communications
Front cover: Patient Michael Gould with lead physiotherapist Philippa Joubert and lead occupational therapist Sophie Cook.
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.
Portuguese staff at Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals got to meet one of their country’s most senior figures when the Portuguese President made an official visit.
President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa spent nearly an hour talking to staff after a guided tour of the Diagnostic Centre and a visit to York Ward, both at Royal Brompton Hospital.
It was part of the celebrations for National Portugal Day, when the President and other senior figures visit Portuguese communities in different parts of the world to help them feel connected to their homeland.
The President said: “I want to thank you for your work during the pandemic, because being a healthcare professional is giving your life, 24 hours a day, for the benefit of others. And during the pandemic you made far more personal sacrifices – working long hours, putting your lives at risk, spending less time with your families – and you cannot put a price on the value of that.”
Guy’s and St Thomas’ became the first NHS trust in London to use a pioneering radiotherapy procedure to treat a woman’s dangerously abnormal heartbeat.
Stereotactic ablative radiotherapy, or SABR, is a precise form of radiotherapy that is usually used to treat different types of cancer.
Sue Simons, from Bromley in south east London, was the first patient to receive the treatment at the Cancer Centre at Guy’s for ventricular tachycardia, a type of abnormal heartbeat in which the heart beats too fast.
A team of cardiologists, cardiac electrophysiologists, clinical oncologists, radiologists, therapeutic radiographers and physicists worked together to plan Sue’s treatment.
She underwent various imaging scans and tests so they could map out her heart and pinpoint the abnormal tissue that causes the ventricular tachycardia. This area was then treated with SABR to stop it forming the faulty electrical signal.
Dr Shahreen Ahmad, consultant clinical oncologist, said: “We hope cardiac SABR will be used to help many more patients like Sue in the future and will enable them to have a better life.”
A round-up of media coverage featuring Guy's and St Thomas'.
BBC News - Multiple news outlets reported on people who volunteered to be a COVID-19 vaccinator during the pandemic and chose to continue their career in the NHS. Kazeem Reaves Odunsi was interviewed on BBC News at 10 about his journey from gym manager to vaccinator and now assistant service manager at the Trust.
Daily Mirror - The family of patient Mia Rogers raised nearly £6,000 to thank staff at Evelina London after a birthmark was found to be growing in her airways. Mia had two operations for her rare condition, subglottic haemangioma, and spent seven days in the paediatric intensive care unit, the Daily Mirror reported.
The Sun - The story of baby Rafferty, who had the rare condition known as ‘dancing eyes and feet syndrome’, was reported by The Sun following new guidance on the condition published by experts from Evelina London. Rafferty’s mum said the care he received helped her get her little boy back. Dr Ming Lim, who helped develop the new treatment guidance, said that because the condition is so rare, many clinical staff won’t have come across the condition in their careers, and it can be difficult to identify.
Evelina London’s Royal Patron, The Duchess of Cambridge, made a surprise visit to meet with those who were unable to join in with celebrations to mark the Platinum Jubilee for Her Majesty The Queen. The Duchess was greeted by delighted staff and families in the paediatric intensive care unit and Sky cardiology ward.
Evelina London has become one of the first hospitals in the UK to appoint a dedicated nurse for a rare inflammatory condition in children linked to COVID-19.
The children’s hospital has appointed a clinical nurse specialist for Paediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome, also called PIMS-TS. It is a rare condition in children and young people that is thought to be triggered by COVID-19.
The condition is understood to be a delayed reaction to the body trying to overcome the virus, and this causes swelling throughout the body. The very small number of children who get PIMS-TS require hospital treatment as it is a serious condition. If detected early, it can be successfully treated.
Michael Bell, PIMS-TS clinical nurse specialist at Evelina London, said: “As PIMS-TS is a new condition, I help families understand the symptoms their child has during and after their hospital stay.
“Often this can be the first time their child has needed hospital treatment, so it can be a worrying time for them. I also coordinate follow-up care in outpatient clinics and run a dedicated helpline.”
Evelina London was among the first in the world to report PIMS-TS as a new condition.
For more information, visit the Evelina London PIMS-TS page.
We love to hear from our patients, staff and supporters, so join the conversation by following us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.
@kasuija (from Twitter) - I’m forever grateful to Mr Christopher Young – the best heart surgeon in London – and his team at @GSTTnhs. Also my very attentive cardiologist Dr Yaso Emmanuel, Angela the Zambian nurse who led a caring ICU team and the amazing staff on Doulton Ward.
@RusselKane (from Twitter) - @GSTTnhs @NHSEnglandLDN Yet again, a mahoosive thank you to everyone at St Thomas’ for looking after me so wonderfully. Big up to Rodrigo in the amazing Hand Therapy Unit & Maria in the X-Ray Dept. You are all brilliant, caring professional & reassuring. So impressive.
@hydeyhyde (from Twitter) - Happy 9th Birthday Abigail! Keep smashing it in true Abigail fashion. As always none of this would be possible without @EvelinaLondon and @ajayding you are simply the dream team!
@lukesbighand (from Twitter) - Thank you to the Radiology team at Harefield @RBandH , particularly Jo who yet again made a needlephobe feel listened to and treated with kindness. #nhsrocks
Hundreds of items of medical equipment and other supplies donated by Guy’s and St Thomas’ arrived in hospitals in Ukraine to support medics tending to injured soldiers and civilians.
Responding to calls for donations, the Trust made part of its supply chain hub in Dartford available for the Ukrainian Medical Association.
Staff across different departments volunteered to identify and package up much needed medical equipment, made up of donated and surplus items.
More than 150 pallets of supplies have been shipped to Ukrainian hospitals containing personal protective equipment such as gloves and theatre gowns, as well as bandages, sutures, dressings, sanitisation materials and other essential items.
For more than a month, staff volunteered between shifts to work at the supply chain hub.
David Lawson, Director of Procurement, said: “Like so many, I have been devastated by the scenes in Ukraine and was looking for ways I could help. I was amazed when so many staff across different areas of the Trust came forward to give up their time to assist.”
The formation of medical aid packages was led by specialist nurse Agnieszka Wypych-Zych and Dr Waqas Akhtar, chief registrar, based at Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals.
Agnieszka said: “We were overwhelmed by the number of staff wanting to help despite the intense workload associated with the pandemic. We were incredibly proud of Guy’s and St Thomas’ for its leadership in helping others in their time of need.”
Budding young artists who won Evelina London’s creative competition will get to contribute artwork to the new Children's Day Treatment Centre.
The competition was open to children and young people across London and the south east, including patients in the hospital, with four winners selected from different age categories.
The interior design theme for the new centre is outer space, decided in collaboration with children, families and staff. The winning entries will be adapted by a team of artists and influence the final designs.
Alice Anderson, from Surrey, won from her age group with her picture of an astronaut painting the moon.
The 11-year-old said: “What inspired me to draw this picture was the determination the astronaut needed. You’d need a lot to paint space with just one paintbrush.”
The Children’s Day Treatment Centre will house everything required for children’s day surgery in a family-friendly space.
Guy’s and St Thomas’ has launched a free virtual work experience programme to help local students in years 10 to 13 get a taste of different NHS careers.
Funded by Guy’s & St Thomas’ Charity, the programme allows students to learn about life in the workplace through interactive lessons and live webinars. The aim is to help develop their skills and confidence, and boost their employability via the specially created online platform.
Staff have shaped the content of the courses, which cover a range of careers, including allied health professions, nursing, midwifery, administrative and clerical roles.
More than 1,000 students have signed up to take part and there are plans for further opportunities throughout the year.
Madeleine Negoita, project manager for the programme, said: “As a large employer in south east London, we want to help students who may face barriers in future employment to gain meaningful experience, while discovering what career path might be good for them.”
Accessibility and choice are at the heart of Guy’s and St Thomas’ new website and information about your health. Steph Jury finds out more.
Designing and building a new website is about people, not just technology.
Developing the new Guy’s and St Thomas’ website provided a unique opportunity to truly put patients first.
The first step was talking to people who use the Trust’s services. This helped the digital and patient information teams to understand what they want and need from an NHS website.
User research showed that many people who use the website are living with the effects of treatment. Conditions can make them feel tired, foggy and unable to take in complex information.
Chi Tran was diagnosed with cancer in 2011 and has had treatment at Guy’s and St Thomas’ since then.
She said: “When you are first told about your condition, you are left with a massive information overload in such a short period. There is no way you can remember what is being said or what advice is given, or think of questions you should ask.”
Experiences like Chi’s amplify the need for information that’s easy to access, and easy to understand.
There’s also the fact that up to 1 million people in the UK do not speak English well, or at all.
The Trust’s local communities speak around 200 languages, so it’s important people are not disadvantaged because of this.
The website has been designed to be clearer and less congested, with important information about services easily available. Content is written using simple, plain language with no jargon or abbreviations, and is designed to be inclusive of all of the Trust’s audiences.
The webpages also work well with accessibility tools so that people with disabilities are not excluded, and are designed for using with smartphones and tablets.
Chi said: “This new website has clear headings and good links to more details. The language is also simple and clear, and I love the simple information for each of the hospitals such as the travel detail.”
The easy read section has been designed to meet best practice for easy read materials, but in an accessible online format. Information, including leaflets, can be downloaded and printed by clinicians and patients, ensuring no one is digitally excluded.
Anamika Rath, digital manager at Guy’s and St Thomas’, said: “Patients were involved at every step of the way to help develop a site that puts their needs first. We’ll continue to test our website and make changes to meet their needs.
“Beyond the ethical obligation, putting their needs and preferences first will result in a better experience for all. Our aim is to give people more choice about how they access information so that no one is left behind.”
For more information, visit the Guy's and St Thomas' website.
- more than 4 in 10 adults struggle with health content for the public
- over 15% of the world’s population has some sort of disability
- over 5.5 million visits were made to the website last year
- more than 700 people provided feedback about the Trust’s website via a survey
- the number of pages has been reduced by 1,000, and 2,000 inaccessible PDF documents have been removed
Matt Barker meets a dedicated group that champions Black men with prostate cancer.
Guy's and St Thomas' has launched a dedicated group for Black men coping with the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer, to help combat the increased risk they face.
One in eight men will get prostate cancer but it's even more common in Black men with one in four getting the disease.
The National Cancer Patient Experience Survey suggests that while experience of care is generally positive, Black patients have a poorer experience across a number of areas, including support received following diagnosis.
The Brother to Brother, Man to Man group was set up by Guy's Cancer and the South East London Cancer Alliance, to address this and improve support for Black men with prostate cancer.
It meets once a month and also welcomes partners, family members and carers.
Brian Quavar, from Docklands in east London, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in July 2021 and joined the group.
The 59-year-old said: "Men generally might be embarrassed to go to their doctor about this but it is even more of a taboo amongst Black men. You will hear some say that what they don't know can't hurt them.
“There's also this notion that Black men are supposed to be virile in terms of their sexuality. They feel it’s something they have to live up to and any interference with that area is going to affect their performance. So to be able to have a group of Black men speaking honestly about the experience and how it’s affected them and the issues they face is enlightening.”
The father-of-four added: “The group is somewhere Black men can feel comfortable to share and talk openly about their experiences in a way that's respectful and supportive of each other.
You find out what to expect because there are people at different stages of their recovery. I'm able to share my experience and be a support and inspiration to other men who are just beginning their journey.”
Jonah Rusere is a urology advanced nurse practitioner at Guy's and St Thomas' and runs the group with Amelia Barber, Grace Zisengwe and Prince Sanyang.
He said: “A lot of the prostate cancer patients we see are Black men but we weren't seeing them in any of our existing support groups.
“When we started asking why, the feedback we got from our Black patients was about the importance of being able to talk to patients from similar communities going though similar experiences.”
- if you are a Black man over 45 it's recommended you speak to your GP about your risk of prostate cancer, even if you don't have any symptoms
- prostate Cancer UK's online risk checker takes 30 seconds to complete
Building a world leading heart and lung centre is never simple, let alone during a global pandemic. To celebrate this incredible achievement, HRH The Princess Royal visited Royal Brompton Hospital to officially open the new building. Matt Barker joined the royal party.
The Diagnostic Centre at Royal Brompton Hospital provides the very latest in imaging technology to help diagnose cases of heart and lung disease.
HRH The Princess Royal was given a tour of the £50m centre and met staff who helped complete the project on time and under budget. She heard how the project has transformed patient care by providing all the services they need under one roof, in a calm and peaceful environment.
Specially commissioned artwork and light installations help patients feel more relaxed and at ease in waiting areas, corridors and treatment rooms.
Baroness Sally Morgan, Deputy Chair at Guy’s and St Thomas’, said: “I want to thank the dedicated staff who have worked so hard to deliver this fantastic building – something they achieved during a global pandemic. It was lovely to have that recognised with The Princess Royal joining us to mark this special occasion.
“We now have the very latest in diagnostic technology, needed for a world leading heart and lung centre like this, led by some of the world’s most renowned clinicians in the field.
“Providing a more effective, purpose-built service is helping with our plans for reducing waiting lists both here and across the wider NHS.”
Professor Dudley Pennell, Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance Unit Director at Royal Brompton, said: “The new Diagnostic Centre is fitted with some of the most advanced clinical MRI scanners in the world – helping to increase diagnostic capabilities, reduce scanning times and improve overall patient experience. Having this wonderful facility also means we can enhance research, education and training programmes for staff.”
The visit from Her Royal Highness coincided with International Nurses’ Day so she also met nurses from across the hospital to thank them for their hard work and commitment.
Samantha Cliffe, lead nurse for cardiac nuclear medicine and the Diagnostic Centre, said: “It was a great pleasure to meet Her Royal Highness. It was a proud moment. We got to showcase the wonderful Diagnostic Centre and the efforts staff have made to make it work. It was also a pleasure to represent the voice of nursing, which is crucial to excellent patient care in diagnostics.”
Planning for the Diagnostic Centre project began in 2018 and construction started in January 2020 – just before the pandemic struck.
Excavating the ground took three months, with up to 50 lorries transporting the equivalent of four Olympic swimming pools of material from the site – to form the upper and lower basement levels of the centre.
Approximately 7,200 tonnes of concrete were used – almost equalling the weight of the Eiffel Tower. The roof of the building is equivalent to the size of four tennis courts.
The centre has been open to patients since January this year.
Bradley, a 19-year-old patient who was involved with the commissioning of the artwork, attended the event.
He said: “Princess Anne took the time to meet everyone, asked questions, and I even got to shake her hand. I felt so honoured and proud at getting the chance to be part of the official opening alongside my mum and other members of the arts team. I loved seeing my artwork too. A great memory I will hold for a lifetime.”
Built by Kier and designed by architects Murphy Philipps, the new Diagnostic Centre has four floors – two above and two below ground level. It houses the:
- cardiac MRI service – one of the leaders in its field in Europe
- echocardiography service
- cardiac and lung cancer radiology service
- interventional bronchoscopy service – one of the most advanced of its type in the UK
There are many ways to become a nurse. Lesley Walker spoke to staff who changed careers to follow their dreams.
Alex was a humanitarian volunteer and war correspondent, Adeola worked as a teaching assistant and Andrea held retail roles in Harrods and Waterstones.
For all three, the attraction of a rewarding career looking after people and with a huge range of specialisms to choose from drew them into nursing.
They left previous jobs, retrained to be nurses and are all now thriving in their chosen paths at Guy’s and St Thomas’.
Andrea Swan is a matron for paediatric cardiac and respiratory services at Evelina London. Her road to nursing began when she was on holiday in Thailand.
Andrea said: “Nursing chose me. After a successful retail career, I'd taken six months out to go travelling. Sitting on a beautiful beach in Ko Samet, it suddenly occurred to me that I should consider nursing on my return home.
“Finding an internet hut on the beach, I discovered King’s College London was holding open days for their nursing courses. I changed my flights so I could come back to London early to attend. By September, I had embarked on my training for a new career.”
She added: “My first years of training were quite challenging, but I’m glad I persevered and stuck with it. I qualified aged 39 and remained anxious that the job was beyond me. Settling in with a supportive team really helped give me the confidence to develop and progress.”
Since Andrea joined Evelina London 13 years ago, she has worked in a range of roles, from clinical nurse specialist to ward manager.
She said: “Children's nursing is brilliant in so many ways. I’m always surprised by young people’s resilience in difficult times and how often small things, such as wanting their teddy or favourite treats, are all that matter. I get to work with amazing families at a very difficult time in their lives and we always hope they feel cared for too.
“My previous retail career has played a significant part in preparing me for management in the NHS. I use those skills on a daily basis and I feel fortunate to have developed them before coming into nursing.”
Alex Khan is a staff nurse specialising in infectious diseases. He has worked on Hillyers ward at St Thomas’ Hospital for more than two years, as a healthcare assistant then as a nurse.
It was his previous years spent as a humanitarian volunteer in Ghana and Senegal, then war correspondent in Iraq, Somalia and East Ukraine which shaped his ultimate ambition to share his nursing skills with colleagues in countries where healthcare is less well developed.
Alex said: “I wanted to be more directly involved with individual patients and to support their care in a personal way. So I came to the UK and enrolled to become a nurse.
“One of the most valuable experiences of my training at King’s College London was that they enabled us to work as a healthcare assistant, so I could get into the thick of patient care. To be given the responsibility of that was very incentivising, to learn things and to know that someone is counting on you to look after your own patients.”
He added: “One aspect of nursing which I love is the team dynamic. You can do really great things with a good team. That gives me a lot of satisfaction, and it makes the patient really happy too. Some days are very challenging, but the rewards are beautiful.”
Adeola Aderibigbe came to her current role of tuberculosis specialist nurse via a career as a teaching assistant at a primary school in Greenwich.
Adeola, who has been working as a nurse for 15 years, said: “There are lots of shared qualities between being a teaching assistant and a nurse, particularly supporting people and seeing them grow. I’m a very passionate person – I love to care for people, whether it’s in the classroom or the wider community.
“I wanted to develop my skills and have a career which is meaningful and rewarding, and nursing has given me that.
“Nursing can be a challenging career but making a difference in the lives of patients and families and giving them a sense of advocacy makes me fulfilled.”
- around 9,000 nurses and midwives work across Guy’s and St Thomas’, in its hospitals and community services
- watch a series of short films of nurses sharing their stories about working at the Trust
Lesley Walker finds out about Teresa Dow’s inherited condition, and meets some of the doctors who treated her.
Teresa Dow’s father suddenly died when he was 49. Decades later, Teresa found out she had a genetic condition which ran through her family including her father and one of her sons.
Teresa’s condition affects the aorta, the main pipe which carries blood from the heart to all areas of the body.
While Teresa can’t be cured, teams from across Guy’s and St Thomas’ came together to diagnose her problems, repair her aorta and support her through her recovery.
Teresa’s own health issues began 10 years ago when she had a heart attack which she struggled to recover from. In 2015 she developed a tear in the aorta, which was managed with medication and monitoring.
In January 2020, Teresa developed a new tear in the upper part of her aorta, close to her heart, which was life-threatening.
Mr Michael Ghosh, consultant cardiac surgeon, undertook an 11-hour operation on Teresa to repair the tear by opening her chest and replacing the first part of her aorta. This included the valve that separates it from the heart, as well as the whole arch of her aorta.
Mr Ghosh said: “Teresa’s surgery was life-saving and necessary. The magnitude of surgery of that kind is significant. The problem was the remainder of the aorta – Teresa’s tear extended all the way along her aorta beyond the part that I operated on. The aorta had enlarged and was at risk of rupture, and Teresa wasn’t strong enough to undergo open surgery to repair it.”
He raised Teresa’s case with a team of experts including vascular surgeons, radiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons, anaesthetists and the perioperative medicine for older people having surgery team, to plan out the next steps for Teresa’s treatment that would give her the best chance of a good recovery.
While at Guy’s and St Thomas’, Teresa was referred for genetic testing. She found out she has a rare connective tissue disorder called Loeys-Dietz Syndrome, which increases the chance of tears and aneurysms in the aorta that eventually rupture. It’s likely her father also had this, and one of her sons was diagnosed with the same condition. Having been able to identify this early, clinicians will be able to provide him with the best possible support and treatment to help him manage the condition.
Teresa said: “All through my childhood, my father had aneurysms. One eventually killed him when he was just 49, which was tragic as he was such a young man.
“That news was devastating to me. Loeys-Dietz has impacted every generation of my family hugely and it was the worst news to find out my son had the condition. He’s now on medication, and Mr Ghosh said he would operate on him if necessary so I have some sense of relief he will be in the best hands.”
Bijan Modarai, professor of vascular surgery and consultant vascular surgeon, led the next stage of Teresa’s care. This involved two minimally invasive operations to repair the remaining parts of her aorta with custom-made stent grafts inserted through small cuts in her groin.
The operation was carried out with Dr Panos Gkoutzios, consultant interventional radiologist, and needed extensive planning including experts from across the Trust.
Professor Modarai said: “It’s a team effort and it is the team that ensures optimal results. These are very complex cases that are only done in a handful of places in the world.
“They are not always straight forward procedures, but I’m pleased to say in Teresa’s case the aorta was successfully relined and the aneurysm was sealed. As a result, Teresa can get on with her life normally and without having to worry about the risk of her aorta rupturing anymore.”
Teresa continues to recover at home in Margate in Kent, and has regular check-ups at St Thomas’ Hospital.
She said: “St Thomas’ is absolutely marvellous. I felt very supported and had a great team – I trusted them and still do. They are amazing.
“I have said to both my surgeons that what they have done for me is miraculous. Professor Modarai and Mr Ghosh are like magicians – I’ll never be able to thank them.
“Somebody said to me that to plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow. I really believe that. Every season I put stuff in my garden which won’t come up until the next year because I am going to be around to see that next season.”
Maxine Hoeksma finds out about the incredible patients and staff at the community-based Amputee Rehabilitation Unit.
Michael Gold remains cheerful and grateful despite a traumatic start to 2022, having first had his right leg and then his left leg amputated.
The 57-year-old is thankful to all the staff at St Thomas' Hospital, and more recently the Amputee Rehabilitation Unit in Kennington, who are helping him to adjust to his new prosthetic limbs.
The former crane driver said: “It all started with a toe infection. Although it seemed to heal at first, with antibiotics, I began to have terrible pain in the foot."
Admitted to St Thomas’ Hospital in 2018, Michael had a bypass graft – a procedure to get blood past a blocked artery – followed by numerous treatments over the years to save his foot.
Unfortunately, severe infection, pain and gangrene of the toe and heel meant amputation of the right leg above the knee was needed in January of this year.
Following similar problems with the left foot, the left limb had to be amputated below the knee in April.
Michael, from Grove Park in south east London, said: “I had brilliant care at the hospital including on Sarah Swift ward.
Now I'm here at the Amputee Rehabilitation Unit and the staff are angels, professional and compassionate.
“They train you up in the gym so you have the upper body strength to get a wheelchair up a steep hill and down again. They assess you to make sure you can go out on the streets. We've even done group tennis and gardening classes. It's all good exercise. Now I look at life and I make the most of it.”
The unit provides intensive physical rehabilitation, specialist wound care and counselling services to around 100 patients each year to help them become independent.
Although patients have different individual needs, many start by learning how to move safely without a prosthesis. Those who meet the criteria move on to having a prosthetic limb made and learn how to use this in physiotherapy sessions.
They progress to being in the kitchen and outdoors and are encouraged to use the prosthesis on the ward to do everyday activities.
The unit is made up of a team of therapists, nurses, prosthetic specialists, a counselling team, and pharmacists and doctors.
Jodie Spyrou, clinical lead for the unit, said: "The rehabilitation starts when our patients are at St Thomas'. A team from our unit and the Bowley Close rehabilitation service, which provides long-term specialist amputee and prosthetic aftercare for patients, work with the hospital teams to support patients there.
“We work closely with the surgical, medical and therapy staff to help plan which pathway of rehabilitation is the most appropriate.
“For example, our teams will go to see a patient who has lost multiple limbs while they are in intensive care. We’ll look at the tissue damage and work with the vascular and plastic surgeons and therapists, giving advice on the level of amputation that will give a patient the best outcome.
“Getting to know the patient on a personal level and being approachable can help with their transfer across to the unit, as they know that their care will be entrusted to us when they leave hospital.”
Hospitals can be busy and noisy places, with thousands of patients, visitors, and staff moving around them every day.
Having calm and peaceful green spaces has many benefits for mental and physical health and wellbeing, which is why the award-winning Florence Nightingale Garden has been rebuilt at St Thomas’ Hospital.
It was originally commissioned by the Burdett Trust for Nursing for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, and to celebrate the importance of the nursing profession in the 21st century.
With support from Guy’s & St Thomas’ Charity, the new garden has been relocated to the upper terrace of the Albert Embankment at St Thomas’, with views across the River Thames to Westminster.
The garden has introduced 38 different species of plants, boosting and attracting wildlife to a relatively unused part of the hospital grounds.
Opened on International Nurses’ Day, the garden now provides a place of respite and recovery for patients, visitors and staff.
The theme of the garden is ‘nurture through nature’ and reflects the life and character of Florence and some of her ideas about the importance of green spaces, light and air in hospital settings.
Florence was considered the pioneer of modern nursing and established the first professional nursing school in the world at St Thomas' Hospital – the Nightingale School of Nursing – in 1860.
She was influential in the design of the new St Thomas’ Hospital that opened in 1872 with its innovative ‘pavilion style’ of seven large separate buildings connected by walkways, which included courtyards.
While almost all of the original garden’s key features remain, including the signature 60-foot pergola, some design details have been reconfigured to ensure the new layout is suitable for the hospital site.
Images from Florence’s pressed flower collection and her handwritten letters supporting healthcare reform have been printed on to a timber wall in the new garden.
Avey Bhatia, Chief Nurse for Guy’s and St Thomas’, said: “The new garden is a fitting tribute to Florence Nightingale who did so much to raise the reputation of nursing as a profession.
“We are incredibly proud of our links to Florence and delighted that this beautiful garden will have a permanent home with us, providing an oasis of calm for our patients, staff and visitors.
We are very grateful to Guy’s & St Thomas’ Charity and the Burdett Trust for Nursing for making this possible.”
Kieron Boyle, Chief Executive of Guy’s & St Thomas’ Charity, said: “We’re proud to work with the Burdett Trust for Nursing to bring this wonderful space to St Thomas’ Hospital. It will provide a much needed quiet place for staff, patients and families to relax, reflect and recharge.
“Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we’re able to help enhance the environment across the Trust’s sites – creating calm, peaceful spaces to benefit the health and wellbeing of patients and the dedicated staff who care for them.”
- the Florence Nightingale Garden was designed by Robert Myers and rebuilt by landscape contractors Bowles & Wyer
- it was awarded a silver medal at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in September 2021
Daisy Holden finds out how a new service is helping cancer patients protect their fertility.
Sophia Millen, 14, was the first teenager at Evelina London Children’s Hospital to undergo a revolutionary operation to preserve her fertility.
The procedure, known as ovarian tissue cryopreservation, is faster than other fertility preservation methods.
In September 2021, Sophia was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia, a form of blood cancer. She has since been receiving chemotherapy at The Royal Marsden, which could make her infertile.
As part of her cancer treatment, she urgently required a stem cell transplant. Any fertility sparing surgery needed to happen quickly, to avoid delays in having the transplant.
Ovarian tissue cryopreservation benefits teenagers and women who are too unwell to wait and have standard egg collection – which takes two to three weeks – as it minimises the delay before cancer therapy can start.
Teams from across children’s surgical services at Evelina London and the fertility preservation service at Guy’s and St Thomas’ worked closely with her clinical team at The Royal Marsden, to make the surgery possible before her transplant in early May this year.
Ovarian tissue is collected through standard keyhole surgery before a young woman starts cancer treatment such as chemotherapy. When she is ready to start a family, the tissue can be re-implanted through follow-up surgery.
The procedure also offers women the chance to restore their natural menstrual cycle and function, even if early menopause occurs, as well as the possibility to conceive naturally.
Sophia’s mum, Angela, said: “It has been a huge relief for us that Sophia was able to have this surgery before her transplant, as it offers her the chance to have a family when she’s older. It has been one less thing to worry about while she is undergoing treatment for her cancer.
“As the procedure was done via keyhole surgery, it meant that once Sophia was ready, we could bring her home on the same day so she could recover before having her transplant.
“The teams at The Royal Marsden and Evelina London have been great, really caring and supportive, and we’re so pleased they could come together to make this surgery a possibility for Sophia.”
Pankaj Mishra, consultant paediatric urologist at Evelina London, said: “This was a huge team effort led by Dr Julia Kopeika, lead for fertility preservation. It started with the collaboration between our Trust and The Royal Marsden, to make this treatment as seamless as possible for Sophia and her family.
“Around 40 members of our staff were involved in the operation. We brought together teams from across our children’s hospital and assisted conception unit at Guy’s Hospital, including specialist haematologists, anaesthetists, nurses and doctors. We were pleased to make this happen safely and quickly, in time for Sophia to receive her stem cell transplant at The Royal Marsden.”
Maxine Semple, lead for the ovarian tissue cryopreservation service team, said: “We are extremely proud that we have expanded our service to care for teenagers and young women going through cancer treatment. Our team has worked tirelessly to ensure that we are providing a service that is changing the face of fertility preservation globally.”
By carrying out this procedure, Evelina London became one of the first children’s hospitals in London to successfully treat a teenager with this type of fertility preservation.
The fertility preservation service at Guy’s and St Thomas’ was among the first, and is one of the biggest in the world.
In 2021, the Trust also became one of the first in the UK to offer all possible methods for fertility preservation, including ovarian tissue freezing and standard egg and embryo freezing.
This new service has been made possible by support from Guy’s & St Thomas’ Charity, and the National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centre at Guy's and St Thomas', and King’s College London.
Billy Kelly armed forces lead.
Q: What is your role?
A: I served in the army for 35 years and joined the Trust last year to lead the armed forces programme. The programme supports reservists, veterans, volunteers and their families at Guy’s and St Thomas’ and in the community. A lot of our staff are reservists and veterans and we have links with armed forces families throughout all five hospitals and in our community services. As part of my role, I lead the Guy’s and St Thomas’ armed forces veterans’ network and I also identify armed forces and veteran patients to find out if they need any additional support.
Q: Tell us more about the programme
A: The programme has been running for a year and is the first of its kind in London that is exclusively led by ex-military personnel. As a Trust we have signed the Armed Forces Covenant and are part of the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance, which commits us to supporting our armed forces and their families. We have received a number of awards in recognition of the support we provide to our armed forces. We are accredited as a Veteran Aware Trust and we have received a gold award from the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme.
Q: What do you enjoy about your role?
A: The NHS is a massive organisation so it’s a good place to transition to from the army. I really enjoy being able to help the community that I’ve lived and worked with for 35 years. We recently helped a patient who joined the army at the same time as me and who had been posted to similar places. He was homeless and was suffering from alcohol addiction. We were able to find him a hostel, give him a phone and put him in contact with his daughter.
Jessafer Fernandez, nursing associate.
I’m a registered nursing associate on Stephen ward at St Thomas’ Hospital, which cares for patients with heart conditions.
The nursing associate role is relatively new to the NHS – it helps to bridge the gap between healthcare support staff and nurses.
We provide hands-on care and support for patients on the ward, which frees up nurses to focus on patients who need more complex care.
My clinical tasks can involve giving oral drugs, taking blood and inserting a cannula to administer fluids, medication and nutrition. I am proactively involved with most aspects of patient care, including referrals and discharge planning.
One of the things I love about my role is listening to patients and their different stories as it inspires me to do my job well.
I originally graduated in nursing in the Philippines and then moved to the UK where I worked in a care home, before joining the Trust in 2014 as a healthcare assistant.
I signed up for the nursing associate apprenticeship programme because I was really keen to get back into nursing, and this was a good stepping stone without the big university fees.
The two-year course involved academic work with Coventry University and clinical placements across the Trust, caring for children and adults, including people with learning disabilities or mental health issues, and caring for patients in the community.
I really enjoyed being able to work and learn at the same time.
To be a nursing associate you need to be able to communicate effectively, with sensitivity and compassion. All clinical skills can be learned but to be a great nursing associate you need to have a burning desire in your heart to help others and improve their quality of life.
Azmina Gulamhusein celebrates the story of Princess Ademola from Nigeria, who trained as a nurse at Guy’s Hospital during World War II.
Before the NHS was founded in 1948, many people from Africa, India and the Caribbean trained as nurses in British hospitals.
One inspirational nurse was Princess Omo-Oba Adenrele Ademola from Nigeria, whose nursing career in Britain lasted more than 30 years.
Princess Ademola was born on 2 January 1916. She was the daughter of the Alake of Abeokuta, a significant king in southern Nigeria.
In 1935, Princess Ademola came to Britain at the age of 22 and is recorded as a midwife. She stayed at the West African Students’ Union hostel in Camden Town and then moved to Somerset in 1936.
Princess Ademola had to balance her studies to become a nurse with royal duties, such as going to garden parties at Buckingham Palace.
From 1939, Princess Ademola is included in the list of nurses on St Saviour’s ward at Guy’s Hospital. She trained there, passed her nursing exams and officially became a registered nurse in 1941.
Princess Ademola was popular among patients, who affectionately called her 'fairy’. Describing her experience at Guy’s Hospital to journalists, she said: “Everyone was very kind to me.”
After training as a nurse at Guy’s Hospital, Princess Ademola gained Central Midwives Board qualifications. She then cared for patients at other London hospitals during World War II.
In the mid-1940s, the Colonial Film Unit made a film about Princess Ademola’s life and experience as a nurse. This silent documentary film called ‘Nurse Ademola’ showed ‘an African nurse at various phases of training at one of the great London hospitals’. It is thought to have inspired many others in West Africa to train as a nurse abroad.
Sadly, the film is now lost. According to the National Archives, this missing film symbolises ‘the wider historical absence of African women’.
In spite of her royal status and contribution to British nursing, the historical records about Princess Ademola are not detailed or complete.
Her name is written in five different ways in the National Archives and this has caused confusion.
The last record of Princess Ademola is in 1949 when she was working as a nurse in South Kensington. Nothing is known about her life after that.
Although we do not have a full picture of Princess Ademola’s life, Guy’s and St Thomas’ is proud of her achievements.
Manal Sadik, Associate Director for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at Guy’s and St Thomas’, said: “Nurses from Black and ethnic minority backgrounds have contributed richly to our healthcare system for generations. It is important that we honour the legacy of nurses from abroad.
“Princess Ademola is an historical role model for anyone entering the nursing profession and those who have committed their working lives to caring for others.”
Foundation Trust life
Newly elected governor Roseline Nwaoba reveals how she plans to use her experience to benefit patients and staff.
The Council of Governors are the voice of the community, ensuring that patients, local people and staff members have a say in the running of Guy’s and St Thomas’.
Roseline Nwaoba stood for election in May and is one of eight staff governors who will be in the role for three years.
She works as a patient access coordinator in the oesophageal laboratory at Guy’s Hospital, and joined the Trust 10 years ago as a ward clerk.
Roseline, from Lewisham in south east London, said: “I was nominated to stand for election and couldn’t believe it when I was elected – thank you to everyone who voted for me.
“I know there will be challenges along the way, but my aim is to be a voice for the people, especially non-clinical staff. I work with patients a lot and I’m a mum and a carer so I’ll be able to use all this experience to help me in this role.”
She added: “I want to better understand how things are being run and will use this time as an opportunity to learn.”
Roseline is encouraging more people to become members of the Trust, and to consider standing for election when the opportunity arises in order to give back to the community.
She said: “We are all running the same race to help our patients and the local community. This is your chance to help shape the services. It’s an amazing Trust and I’m happy to be part of the system.”
Clare Lauwerys explains why she decided to become a member after having a lung transplant at Harefield Hospital.
As an NHS Foundation Trust, Guy’s and St Thomas’ is accountable to anyone who uses its services.
It has a membership made up of patients, carers, staff and the public, and its members can make a real difference to the way services are developed.
Clare Lauwerys, from Essex, was diagnosed with the rare lung condition lymphangioleiomyomatosis – also known as LAM – at Royal Brompton Hospital in 1996. It usually affects women and led to Clare having a lung transplant at Harefield Hospital more than 13 years ago.
She’s passionate about sharing her experience to help other people going through something similar. She took part in NHS England’s Peer Leadership Development Programme, which aims to support people with lived experience to develop their knowledge, skills and confidence to become effective Peer Leaders for personalised care.
Clare said: “I try to do things that can make things a little bit better for others, even if it’s just for one person.”
During the pandemic, Clare joined the Patient and Public Engagement Group and recently became a member of the Trust.
She said: “Becoming a member is free, it gives you a chance to shape the Trust and you get to hear about any changes taking place. Another good thing is being able to join the health seminars.”
Clare decided to become a member as a way of giving back to Harefield Hospital after her transplant.
She said: “Harefield finds the best staff – they are all so lovely. The transplant community often call it the ‘Harefield Hilton’ because you can be in and out so much.”
Last updated: August 2022