News in brief – Cheshire Chief Exec to step down, new staff podcast, cancer centre collaborates with musicians

We’re starting 2022 as we mean to go on – with free mindfulness courses for carers and parents, the debut of a podcast featuring staff stories, and the addition of new services and tools throughout the NHS.

So catch up on some of the most interesting healthcare updates we’ve come across in our first news in brief of the new year…

Backing for Huntington’s disease service expansion

We begin with some positive news from Scotland, where Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) have backed an expansion of services for patients with Huntington’s disease.

A University of Aberdeen study recently highlighted that the number of cases in northern Scotland had increased by almost 50 per cent over the last 30 years.

A motion tabled by Labour Deputy Leader and Shadow Health Secretary Jackie Baillie MSP, which called for more specialist services, was met with cross-party support. It also received the backing of 98 per cent of MSPs, which the university says makes it the ‘most supported call to action in the history of the Scottish Parliament’.

Jackie Baillie MSP said: “I am delighted that this motion has achieved a historic level of cross-party support. The Scottish Government must listen to parliament and ensure that specialist services for families impacted by Huntington’s disease are expanded without delay.

“Huntington’s disease is a rare and extremely difficult to manage condition. It has a huge impact on both the mental and physical health of those who have it, and the loved ones who care for them.”

Lincolnshire trust makes 95k investment in assessment equipment

Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust has invested £95,000 in specialist equipment to help its staff diagnose patients with swallowing difficulties.

It’s hoped the move will lead to quicker diagnosis and treatment and will mean patients can be assessed without leaving their wards, while also reducing pressures on the trust’s videofluoroscopy service.

Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) Teams took the delivery of Fibreoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES) equipment, which is portable and can, therefore, save patients who need an instrumental assessment a trip for an X-ray. Staff will carry out assessments in an outpatient setting or at the bedside. 

The equipment will mainly be based at Scunthorpe and Grimsby hospitals, but can also be used at Goole hospital’s Neuro Rehab Centre. Staff are currently being trained to use the equipment before the roll-out.

Sarah Scrace, Operational Lead for SLT, said: “For those patients who need it, this equipment will give us a better understanding of the cause of their swallowing difficulties and how we can treat it.  With it being portable, it will allow us to carry out assessments more quickly, meaning we can provide patients and the staff looking after them with information on how best to manage their difficulties, including rehabilitation options, sooner. We expect to see improved outcomes for patients in terms of their rehabilitation.”

Cheshire Chief Exec to step down in the spring

Sheena Cumiskey, the Chief Executive of Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CWP), has announced plans to retire in May 2022.

After 25 years in similar roles, and 38 years in the NHS, Sheena will step down in the spring after over a decade as the Chief Exec at CWP. She has also recently returned from an interim role supporting system working at the Cheshire and Merseyside Health and Care Partnership.

Sheena stated: “It has been a great privilege to be Chief Executive of CWP for the past 12 years and to have had the opportunity to serve in a wide variety of NHS roles throughout my career. I am 60 in May next year and I feel the time is right to hand on the baton to a new generation of talented leaders.

“I am looking forward to the next six months before I retire as there is much to do during this period to help support our wonderful staff at a very testing time for the NHS and social care – and also in the midst of considerable change to the way the NHS is organised. I’m lucky to have worked with some great people by my side at CWP and I know they will continue to strive for the very best for the population we serve.”

Mike Maier, CWP Chair, added: “Sheena epitomises what it means to be a public servant. Her outstanding career has spanned all aspects of provision and commissioning – making a significant contribution to championing mental health issues. Under Sheena’s leadership, CWP has gone from strength to strength and is the only North West mental health and community trust rated as ‘Outstanding for Caring’ by the Care Quality Commission.”

New Christie cancer centre open to patients in Macclesfield

At the end of 2021, The Christie’s new cancer centre in Macclesfield opened to patients.

Home to a team of 53 staff members, the £26 million cancer centre is led by James McGovern, who is the centre manager and principal radiographer, while experienced nurse Catherine Fensom is the new operational lead.

The centre, which is funded by The Christie charity, will cover a range of clinical and non clinical disciplines and provide care for around 1,500 patients per year.

Services available at the centre include radiotherapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, hormone therapies, haematology treatments, outpatient care, nurse led clinics, counselling services, an information centre, palliative care and clinical trials. 

James said: “I am excited that we have recruited such a strong team for The Christie at Macclesfield, and I know that every single employee is committed to delivering the best possible patient care.

“This is the first radiotherapy centre in Cheshire and the first time The Christie has been able to provide a holistic local radiotherapy centre that also provides chemotherapy, outpatient appointments and other important types of patient care and treatment at the same place other than our Withington site.”

Clatterbridge cancer hospital collaborates with classical musicians

Sticking with cancer care in the North West of England, Merseyside’s Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust recently announced a new partnership with Liverpool Philharmonic.

The year-long collaboration will focus on improving the health and wellbeing of people with cancer through interactive music-making sessions and on-site or online performances for patients and staff at the cancer centre’s three hospitals.

Funded by donations to The Clatterbridge Cancer Charity, the programme hopes to improve mental wellbeing through entertainment, creativity and social connections, as well as provide training for staff.

Sam Wade, Arts Coordinator for The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, said: “This is an amazing investment in the mental health and wellbeing of our patients and our staff. We know that the arts, whether that’s music, painting, poetry or theatre, can help to distract and entertain patients as well as helping them express themselves at a stressful time in their lives.”

Peter Garden, Executive Director – Performance and Learning at Liverpool Philharmonic, commented: “Our team and musicians have been working with the NHS using music to support patient and staff wellbeing for 14 years, primarily through a longstanding partnership with Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust and other local NHS providers. We are thrilled to be extending this work to improve the wellbeing of patients going through cancer treatment and the wonderful NHS staff supporting them, and are grateful to The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre for their commitment to this new venture.”

Free mindfulness course for parents and carers at GOSH

Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust (GOSH) has announced that it will offer free online mindfulness courses to parents and carers in early 2022.

The sessions, which span eight weeks, are intended to act as a ‘journey towards a calmer mind’ and will include the chance to ‘learn how to practice mindfulness alongside clinical psychologists’.

It’s hoped that the course will help potentially lower stress, anxiety and depression, while increasing self-awareness, relaxation and concentration.

The sessions, which can cater for 15 to 20 parents or carers, will run from 19 January to 16 March 2022, 12.30pm to 2pm.

Find out more here.

New staff podcast series launches in Leeds

And finally, our last news bite takes us to West Yorkshire, where staff from the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust are set to launch a new podcast series called ‘Heroes Unmasked’.

Expected to debut on 4 January 2022, the series is intended to go ‘behind the mask’ and show more about the trust’s staff and their stories.

Available to watch through regular podcast channels, the first two instalments feature security adviser and former submariner Mark O’Byrne and Consultant Neurologist, Dr Agam Jung.

Visit the trust website to find out more.