Exciting times, exciting people
In our busy day-to-day lives it is easy to forget how fantastic it is to work at UCLH. We really are at the forefront of fascinating innovations in healthcare that will improve the lives of patients for generations to come.
We are pioneering the most innovative immunotherapy for cancer and using genetic manipulation for patients with until now untreatable neurologic disease. Our imaging specialists are creating the most fascinating scans that show detailed changes in our patients’ cells and tissue. Our specialist sport teams do wonders for athletes and recreational sportsmen and our infectious diseases doctors and nurses explore the most exciting new treatments for diseases that affect thousands of people worldwide.
In the meantime our ENT specialists and our dental teams deliver amazing life-changing treatment at Gray’s Inn Road, awaiting their move to the brand new building on Huntley Street.
In this magazine, you can read all about the arrival of a super-sophisticated 90-tonne cyclotron. It generates the radioactive beams that are used to treat children and adults with complex cancers with millimetre precision. Cancer-fighting protons are guided via magnets along a 50-yard corridor to the four treatment rooms. The cyclotron was lowered into the basement of our 11-storey building which will also house Europe’s largest haematology hospital and our brand new short-stay surgery facility.
But all this technological force would not come to full fruition without the impressive and relentless efforts of our staff. From catering assistant to consultant, from porter to professor, from matron to manager, from physiotherapist to food specialist and from care- assistant to chief executive: we need everybody to contribute to our success. Healthcare is a human job: read for example in this magazine how our complex pain team changes the lives of our patients.
Our strength is our diversity. Diversity in discipline but also diversity in background, ethnicity, culture and belief. We thrive thanks to our highly international workforce. We relish having the best from each and every spot in the world and we value the liveliness this brings to our teams and to the service we deliver.
Scroll down and you can read more about what we have to offer.
Marcel Levi, Chief Executive
Our 90-tonne cancer-fighting machine!
Equipment that will transform the lives of hundreds of NHS cancer patients every year has been craned into position.
The size of a family car and weighing the same as seven London buses, the cyclotron will be the beating heart of the proton beam therapy (PBT) centre at UCLH.
PBT uses a beam of protons to destroy cancer cells with millimetre accuracy, minimising the damage to healthy tissue.
In a feat of physics and engineering, the cyclotron is cooled to -269C and spins ionised hydrogen at two-thirds the speed of light to create the cancer-fighting beam.
Massive magnets then guide the beam to the treatment room, where a three-storey machine delivers the treatment to the patient.
Marcel Levi, UCLH’s chief executive, said: “With the NHS turning 70 this year, it is absolutely fantastic to be investing in world leading treatments and facilities. When the PBT centre opens, more adults, young people and children will be able to access this treatment, ensuring better recovery and fewer side effects than possible with other treatments.”
As part of the NHS treatment programme, Emily Major, 26 (pictured below), made the journey to the United States to have PBT.
She said: “I had PBT back in 2015 in the States to make sure that my cancers were completely removed. Now I have regained my strength and enjoy my active life, working full-time. It is really exciting seeing this new centre being built and it is great that it means people will be able to have PBT in London.”
VOLUNTEERING IS ONE OF THE BEST THINGS I HAVE EVER DONE
The inspirational work of volunteers is being showcased as part of the NHS’s 70th birthday celebrations. Here, Dawn Malcom explains why she volunteers – and why you should join her.
Once or twice a week, Dawn can be found in the University College Hospital Macmillan Cancer Centre checking in patients for their appointments, giving them directions to wards and offering a listening ear.
She also brings in magazines and does jigsaws with patients who are having chemotherapy.
Dawn said: “My aim is to reduce anxiety and to let in a little bit of light. Even if it’s just doing a jigsaw with someone, it helps takes their mind off what they are going through.
"You are just a small cog in a big wheel but it takes lot of small parts to make that wheel go round."
“Volunteering is one of the best things I have ever done. It has given me such purpose and joy. I would say wholeheartedly, just go ahead and do it.”
From retired headmistresses to nightclub promoters, our 400-plus volunteers do everything from greet patients on arrival, to giving massages, making paper flowers and providing cheery conversation and a sympathetic ear.
They came in 7,867 times last year, giving 25,600 hours.
Clive Pankhurst, volunteers lead, said: “We are proud and humbled that people like Dawn want to volunteer with us and we are always looking for more people to join us.”
A PATIENT’S BEST FRIEND
Volunteers come in all shapes and sizes…
Nelson is huge and hairy, Cassie loves children and Keela likes nothing more than meeting new people.
Along with Maple, Donny and Oscar and, of course their owners, these therapy dogs regularly visit UCLH.
Maple visits young outpatients, as well as adults who are waiting to have radiotherapy, and some patients time their appointments to ensure she will be there to greet them.
Rescued by the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home after she was abandoned outside a police station five years ago, Maple is a gentle, sweet-natured Staffie cross who loves people.
Her owner, Yvonne Rose, said: “Maple brings a real sense of joy and I am very proud of her.”
Marie Crean White, mother of eight- year-old patient Sasha, said: “Maple is such a friendly little dog that once you start petting her she doesn’t want to leave you!”
Research suggests therapy dogs provide a host of health benefits, from reducing stress and anxiety, to lowering blood pressure and easing pain.
Cassie the Cavapoo is a popular visitor on our children’s wards. Her owner, Talia Berkowitz, of the charity Spread a Smile, said: “Babies love touching and feeling her, children who might not want to do their physio enjoy taking her for a walk down the corridor and teenagers forget to concentrate on being cool and come up for a cuddle.
“It really lowers anxiety and lifts spirits. We’ve had parents say it’s the first time they’ve seen their child smile for weeks.”
UCLH non-executive director Althea Efunshile CBE believes that the promotion of equality and diversity makes for a healthier staff environment and a better experience for our patients. Althea has held a number of senior leadership roles during her 30-year career in local and central government.
What support have you been able to tap into?
I’ve been a member of various network groups throughout my career. But I’ve also found it important to seek out individuals who could help me become my best self and who I could learn from. The individuals I’ve looked to and admired have sometimes been other black women and sometimes not. Two of my most cherished and trusted champions have been white men, for example. I think you have to learn lessons from as many sources as possible.
What can people do, as individuals, to promote diversity?
Managers should give feedback – negative and positive – in a way that’s respectful and most likely to be heard. And those being managed, which is most of us, have a responsibility to be ready to receive that feedback. There may also be ways in which organisational barriers prevent certain groups from receiving equal treatment, equal care or equal advancement. Sometimes network groups (see opposite page) can help the organisation identify those barriers, so that they can be removed.
Who inspired you and why?
I was born in London in the mid-1950s. My parents were Windrush generation Jamaican immigrants, who believed fervently in the importance of education and were hugely ambitious for me. Their view was that as a black woman, inequality and prejudice meant I’d have to work twice as hard. As a result I’ve always had a pretty hard work ethic, which I didn’t always live up to when I as at school, to the horror of my parents!
What four tips would you give to a young woman starting out in her career?
- Know who you are, be clear about your values, and be true to yourself.
- Be kind to yourself. You’re not Superwoman!
- Work out when you should be brave enough to simply admit that you just don’t know.
- Recognise unexpected opportunities and be ready to take advantage of them.
A DAY IN MY LIFE
Romelyn Icot conquered her fear of blood when she became a scrub nurse. She tells us what it’s like to spend up to eight hours a day in the operating theatre.
My day starts at…
5.45am. I have a cup of boiled rice and pork for breakfast – one of the three cups of rice I have a day. Nothing else gives me the energy boost I need. And a cup of coffee is essential.
My job involves…
Assisting the surgeons as they operate. I make sure all the instruments are available and laid out before they start – some sets of instruments are heavier than I am! I pass the surgeon the instruments, trying to anticipate their needs and ensure all the safety checks are done and that everything stays sterile. I even count all the instruments and swabs before, during and after the patient is sewn up to ensure nothing has been left inside them.
On a typical day I...
Work from 8am to 7.30pm. I might be in two four-hour- long cancer surgeries, or nine 45-minute long diagnostic procedures – every day is different. I have got used to standing for long periods and sitting down seems strange now. I’d always hated blood but I challenged myself to overcome my fear when I got a job as a scrub nurse. It took two months but I did it!
How I become a scrub nurse…
I did my nursing training in the Philippines, where I am from, and worked as a scrub nurse for two years. I wanted more independence, I was living at home and my parents and gran were doing everything for me, and so I moved to London in 2016. I spent six months shadowing and learning the system here – the Philippines does things in a more American way – and gained a British nursing qualification.
The best thing about my job is…
When a surgeon tells me that a patient is doing really well after their operation. I also love being involved in difficult cases and evaluating how I did afterwards.
The worst thing is…
Seeing a patient back in the theatre because their cancer has come back – that is heart- breaking.
I go for a run each Sunday to give me energy for the week ahead. And I make a point of travelling – around Britain or abroad – at least once a month. France and Switzerland are beautiful. So is Edinburgh but it can be cold!
If I could do something else…
I actually wanted to be an accountant but my mum, who had always wanted to be a nurse herself, persuaded me to do nursing. I fell in love with working in the operating theatre. I think it is a real gift to have a job that you enjoy so much.
Our outstanding “IT guy”
When Ernest Sarfo was announced as the Outstanding Corporate Contribution winner at our Celebrating Excellence awards, the audience cheered and chanted his name.
His award nomination said: “Ernest is invaluable for us administrators and PAs… nothing is ever too much for him… an exemplar of brilliant customer service”.
“The awards night was amazing,” said Ernest, beaming as he remembered the event. “Everyone was happy for me. I posted it on Facebook and got loads of likes.”
Ernest is a UCLH telecommunications engineer, responsible for keeping everyone connected through their landline phones, mobiles, iPads and pagers until their recent decommissioning. That is 4,000 devices across all UCLH locations and he has to be ready for a call or an appearance from any owner with a problem.
“I’ve always been the ‘IT guy’, through school, college and university. I used to unlock mobile phones for friends and that’s partly what I’m still doing now!” he laughed.
Ernest made his passion his career. A first degree in business information systems, a Masters in electronic marketing and a position at Sony then led him to UCLH where he has worked for four years.
“I like helping people. I use the mix of my technical and customer service skills to support them,” he said. “My aim is always to give someone a solution to keep them going. Service management and customer service must be combined. Customer satisfaction is very important.”
Every day, Ernest has a diary full of telephone calls and face-to-face meetings when he needs to use his problem-solving skills. The biggest challenges come when staff want to bypass the ticketing system and when several people turn up at his desk at the same time. The turnaround of junior doctors every six months also creates regular busy periods. They all need their electronic communications sorted out straight away.
The next few months will be even busier as UCLH implements a new electronic health record system (EHRS). Ernest added: “This will be a huge change as it will replace most of our clinical systems. The Digital Services team will start installing new computers and laptops for it to run on and nurses will be using hand- held devices to view and enter patient information in the wards. We’ll be testing all the new devices.”
Ernest always does everything possible to provide a stellar service and recognises his role in making our organisation function.
“I’m actually motivated by seeing the patients, for example when I visit wards or the Cancer Centre. I want to help them by helping the staff.”
Our new electronic health record system (EHRS), enabled by Epic, will go live on 31 March 2019. Atos, our digital transformation partner, will upgrade the technical infrastructure and ensure that all the new PCs, laptops and mobile devices needed to run it are in place before we switch on the new system.