For my part, I will finish at UCLH at Christmas after more than nine years on the Board and seven and a half as chairman. It has been a fantastic experience for me – definitely the highlight of my career – and it has been a real privilege to be associated with this marvellous institution.
I have been lucky enough to work with two outstanding chief executives: Robert Naylor, who did so much to make UCLH what it is today; and Marcel Levi, who joined in January and is one of that rare breed – a practising clinical academic CEO. It has been a pleasure to welcome Marcel to London and to witness the impact he is already having in our hospitals and local health community.
In my time here we have maintained our twin focus: developing our critical partnership with UCL to boost our research-led specialist services; and playing an important role in reshaping our local services. We have also made a number of key strategic moves which will shape UCLH and benefit our patients for many years to come.
Appointing Marcel sits alongside: moving The Heart Hospital services to Barts (a sad but necessary decision) and taking in extra specialist cancer work; authorising the Proton Beam Therapy development; taking over the Royal National Throat Nose and Ear Hospital; and starting the new development in Huntley Street which will house both the Royal National Throat Nose and Ear Hospital and the Eastman Dental Hospital. Most recently, our decision to invest in a new Electronic Health Record System will transform the way we care for our patients.
All this has happened in an increasingly tough NHS environment. At UCLH we have fared relatively well but I know how hard it has been for staff who have had to make relentlessly more savings each year. It is testament to all of them that we have managed to do this while maintaining high quality care. My abiding memory of UCLH will be of the sheer pleasure of working with so many talented and committed people – Board colleagues, governors, staff, members and the many other friends of the hospital.
More than anything, I have enjoyed walking the floors, visiting units and witnessing the energy, enthusiasm and professionalism of the 8,000 people who make UCLH what it is today. I repeat that it has been a real privilege to share the last nine years with them. In an NHS that is deeply troubled and facing huge challenges, UCLH stands out as a beacon of excellence. Long may that continue.
I hope you enjoy our new-look UCLH Magazine. In this edition we feature the transforming impact of cochlear implant surgery and learn more about our neonatal unit and life as a sonographer.
Richard Murley Chairman, UCLH
I feel free to be myself
To most of us, the tap, tap, tap of raindrops is a rather unwelcome sound. But to Jeanann Doyle, it is magical.
Jeanann heard raindrops land on her umbrella for the first time in 25 years after a cochlear implant allowed her to hear clearly again.
Jeanann, 30, is also revelling in hearing other everyday sounds, from birds chirping in the morning to something as simple as water trickling out of the sponge as she washes her dishes.
She said: “I feel free to be myself and it’s wonderful.”
Jeanann’s parents first noticed that something was wrong with her hearing when she was just three years old and, from the age of five, she had hearing aids in both ears. These proved to be a lifeline until the end of last year, when a sudden deterioration in her hearing left her severely to profoundly deaf.
With everything from a conversation in a pub, to a chat at a supermarket checkout nigh on impossible, Jeanann stopped socialising and her confidence plummeted.
She said: “It was almost as if the ground was slipping away from under me.”
A series of tests at the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital (RNTNEH), which is part of UCLH, showed her to be a candidate for a cochlear implant. These tiny electronic devices bypass the ear’s normal hearing “machinery” and are sometimes recommended when even powerful hearing aids fail to help.
RNTNEH surgeon Sherif Khalil performed the operation this March and just five weeks later, the device was switched on. Voices initially sounded more like Minnie Mouse than the real thing – but Jeanann could hear them.
As her brain got used to the implant, the taps, bangs, whistles and pings of everyday life soon became a source of wonder.
Jeanann, a nutritionist, said: “Two or three days after my implant was switched on, I was walking home in the rain and put my umbrella up to stop my cochlear implant from getting wet.
“The next thing, there was a tapping noise, and it took me about 10 minutes to figure out what on earth it was.
“I texted my mum because I was so excited and I told her it was my favourite sound.”
Her hearing has continued to improve and trips to the pub are now a source of pleasure, rather than pain.
Jeanann, who recently described her experience to MPs at a House of Commons reception, said: “It is like I have been born again with new ears.”
To most of us, the tap, tap, tap of raindrops is a rather unwelcome sound. But to Jeanann Doyle, it is magical.
"My surgeon, Mr Khalil changed my life. I have no shame in saying he is like a hero to me. "
Portrait of an artist
A glimpse into how Simon Tolhurst is helping put cancer patients at ease
Chemotherapy isn’t just stressful – it can also be a long and tedious process. Artist Simon Tolhurst aims to make it more pleasant for our patients by offering them the chance to sit for a portrait while they are receiving their treatment.
For the last four years, Simon has sketched cancer patients every Thursday afternoon, producing more than 250 pencil portraits of patients, friends, relatives and other loved ones.
The portrait project helps ease patients’ anxiety and leave them with a more positive memory of an otherwise challenging day.
Simon said: “I simply draw the patient as they are having their treatment. All they have to do is sit back, be themselves - and chat to me a little, if they’d like to!"
It is a privilege to be drawing the people I meet in this environment - their strength, courage and great humour is inspiring, wonderful and humbling.
All of those drawn receive a free signed print and some of the sketches are on display in the University College Hospital Macmillan Cancer Centre.
The portrait artist-in-residence project is funded by Haematology Cancer Care, the charitable arm of our haematology, or blood diseases, service.
Satisfied subjects include Lucy Nicholls, who works for England Netball and is being treated for lymphoma, a type of blood cancer.
The 28-year-old, who was filmed by the BBC as Simon sketched her earlier this year, said:
Initially I was really self aware and wanted to giggle. But as it went on, I really relaxed into being drawn, and it was really, really nice.
“It is something positive to take away from something that it is so hard to find positive things to take away from.”
Another patient said: “The thrill of being drawn transformed the chemo-suite into an exciting gallery.”
A third commented: “I felt really special and privileged as normally you think that only the rich and famous have portraits of themselves made.”
The heart-warming project is the brainchild of Steve Roper, a cancer patient and fellow artist. Steve said: “The drawing process can help with stress and anxiety by creating an important opportunity to reflect and talk while doing something enjoyable.
“Some artists can be very demanding but Simon inspires trust and his gentle, caring manner is at the heart of the project’s success.”
A DAY IN MY LIFE
Fast-paced, specialist work and good interaction with patients… all in a day’s work for sonographer Sally Daniels
My day starts at…
5.45am when the alarm goes off. I’m used to the London commute. I could work closer to home in Bedfordshire but I love the specialist work we do here.
My job involves…
Scanning patients and making a diagnosis from the clinical notes and what I see on the ultrasound, to help clinicians direct their treatment.
How I became a sonographer…
In my second year of radiography I did an obstetric placement and was utterly amazed. At 12 weeks and just 6cm long, you can see so much detail in the foetus. That’s when I decided I’d be a sonographer.
On a typical day I…
Work two clinics and might see around 20 or more patients in each. It’s very busy. I do paediatric and musculo-skeletal scans. I’m also doing a lot of specialist head and neck work and the team is fantastic. They are very impressive and I am learning so much.
The best thing about my job is…
It’s a combination of having a good interaction with patients, no two days being the same, a huge variety of work and great colleagues. Ultrasound has changed so much in the last 15 years. When I qualified it was mostly obstetrics and gynaecology. But now it’s being used in so many different ways and with high-frequency probes you can produce such beautiful images!
The worst thing about my job is…
Knowing that an ultrasound result will not be good news for the patient.
If I could do something else…
A sommelier but I don’t think I’ve got the palate for it..
I like to run and as a I get older I’m turning to hiking. In October I’m going to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. It’s the complete opposite of work – outdoors, nature, space and solitude.
Ultrasound has changed so much in the last 15 years… it’s being used in so many different ways and with high-frequency probes you can produce such beautiful images.
Do you want to join our UCLH team?
We have lots of opportunities for radiographers at all levels - from those who have recently finished their undergraduate studies to those with specialist and advanced skills. It is an exciting and progressive department – we have just recruited our first consultant radiographer, have close links to universities and there is plenty of scope to advance your practice. Our radiographers provide clinical reports on a range of images including mammograms, MRI scans and fluoroscopy.
They run the CT colonoscopy and barium swallow lists and lead and provide a vascular access service. Interested? If you would like an initial chat please email firstname.lastname@example.org, professional lead and radiology general manager.
Introducing our EHRS
An electronic health record system (EHRS) is a single, integrated digital health record that is kept up-to-date in real time and can be accessed by anyone in a patient’s care team.
This will improve information sharing with patients, staff, and external healthcare partners such as GPs.
Working with our supplier, Epic, and our infrastructure partner, Atos, we are putting in place a programme to design, build and implement such a system.
It will allow our clinicians to have access to a complete patient record in one place. Our EHRS will further improve safety by providing clinicians with clear and accessible records, including drug and allergy information, treatments, test results with alerts and decision support. It will also remove the need to link with many unrelated and sometimes unreliable systems.
Our EHRS is not an IT project
Dr Stephen Cone, chief medical information officer, said: “It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for clinical and operational staff to work together with our patients and healthcare partners in shaping UCLH’s future; further improving safety, care, research and education in the process.”
As part of the system, we are planning to implement a new patient portal, which patients can access through a customised app on a mobile phone, tablet or computer. Over the next two years, we will be working with our patients and clinicians to determine exactly what information and services will be available through the portal. For example, access to information about their condition, prescriptions and appointments and the option to book or reschedule appointments.
EHRS will also strengthen our research capabilities and make it easier for patients to take part, if they choose to do so, helping to improve our understanding of diseases and treatments for the future.
New clinical leadership roles
These will ensure a vital link between clinical staff and technology programmes at UCLH. Dr Stephen Cone, consultant anaesthetist, has been appointed as our chief medical information officer and Dr Natasha Phillips, assistant chief nurse, as chief nursing information officer. We are expecting to appoint a chief research information officer soon.
Together they will help us prepare, design and implement our new EHRS and patient portal.
Our EHRS will go live in 2019
We’ve already started the groundwork and will be using the next few months to share our vision, timeline and next steps with our patients, staff and healthcare partners. More information is available on the UCLH website and intranet.
Elvis - king of the flu fighters
Meet Elvis Igiewe, our radiotherapy planning co-ordinator, who’s taking centre stage in the annual flu vaccination campaign at UCLH. Elvis is among our frontline staff featuring in podcasts and on posters to encourage their NHS colleagues to protect themselves, their families and the patients they care for.
For the general public, the flu vaccine is recommended for those “at risk”: people with chronic diseases, diabetes, a poor immune system, little or no function of the spleen, those aged 65 years or over and pregnant women. This year, nursery and primary school children will also be offered the jab. Your GP or midwife can provide more information.
The flu jab is very important to me. I want to protect my son. I don’t want him to become unwell and miss school. I’d encourage all staff to get the flu jab. Go get your jab now!