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22.06.17:  Walk for Wards: Meet the people fighting to fund London's lifesaving hospitals

chemo day unit walkers picLondoners whose lives were transformed by the extraordinary efforts of the capital’s top doctors and nurses have pledged to give back to the NHS at Imperial Health Charity's biggest ever sponsored walk.

Hundreds of hospital staff and supporters are set to show their appreciation at Walk for Wards on Sunday 9 July.

The event is expected to raise tens of thousands of pounds for healthcare projects at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust's five west London hospitals - Charing Cross, Hammersmith, St Mary’s, Queen Charlotte’s & Chelsea and Western Eye.

Collectively, the walkers are due to cover more than 500 miles during the walk – the same distance as marching from Big Ben to John O’Groats.

Thankful patients and hospital staff have come forward in their droves to take part in the challenge, sharing dramatic stories of the outstanding medical care they received in their hour of need. Here are just a few of them:

‘Cancer care saved my father’s life’

For the last 18 years, Tim O’Sullivan’s father, Terry, has lived with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma – a blood disease that attacks lymph nodes all over the body. The disease recently become more aggressive and Terry has required intensive chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant.

Tim is bidding to run the entirety of the five-mile course, raising money for the team who treated his father at Hammersmith Hospital.

“The hospital and cancer day care unit have been amazing in their care towards my Dad over the past few months,” he said.

“From the donations given at previous charity events, the hospital has been able to invest in new equipment and facilities to help those in need just like my Dad.

“Without these donations from the general public, the journey we have been on would have been 10 times harder with even more challenges to face.”

‘Dedicated staff look after patients’ mental health’

Celestine Buluma is a mental health nurse based at Charing Cross Hospital. One of a team of 11 specialists, his work spans several wards, providing support for any patient experiencing mental health issues or dementia.

For Celestine, Walk for Wards is a chance to celebrate the importance of good mental health in hospital while raising money to support the team’s work.

“Patients come into the hospital with physical problems or issues, but there are often mental health issues too,” he said.

“The truth is that we are financially restricted in terms of what we can do for patients, but we can offer our support on a one-to-one basis.”

‘We are walking for thermometers’

Members of staff at Hammersmith Hospital’s chemotherapy day unit have teamed up with their patients in a bid to raise more than £1,500 for cancer care at Walk for Wards.

The 10-strong team will put the money towards a 'thermometer fund', enabling each patient to be given a thermometer to monitor their symptoms at home.

“We are getting better at treating cancer but it’s also becoming more and more expensive for patients,” nurse practitioner Lizzy Nkolobe explained.

“The disease can cause them to have ‘low bloods’, which predisposes them to infection. The cheapest and easiest way to check this is to check temperature with a thermometer. Every patient should have one.”

Imperial Health Charity’s Walk for Wards takes place on Sunday 9 July, starting and finishing at Merchant Square in Paddington. Participants can choose to walk either a two-mile or five-mile route.

Last year’s event raised more than £20,000 to help the charity fund dozens of projects for Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, including major redevelopments, clinical research and initiatives to improve the patient experience.

For more information about Walk for Wards and to sign up for the event, visit

The entry fee is £10 for adults and £5 for NHS staff, children (aged five to 17) and concessions. Under-fives can walk for free.

There is no minimum sponsorship. However, the charity will match fund the first 100 people that sign up to take part in the walk up to the value of £100.

21.06.17:  Meet BBC Hospital's Shehan Hettiaratchy

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Last night’s episode of Hospital showed our health service at its best: dedicated, passionate staff demonstrating their professionalism during a major crisis.

We saw how all the staff pull together in the aftermath of a major incident like the Westminster attack. Whether they’re a surgeon performing a life-saving operation or a hospital porter helping free up beds, everyone plays a vital part in making sure patients get the best care possible.

Shehan Hettiaratchy, Major Trauma Director and Lead Surgeon at the Trust, is one of these people. He played a prominent role in the episode and we saw him responding to the initial influx of patients and later treating Stephen, who was visiting London with his wife, Cara, when they were struck by the perpetrator’s vehicle.

Shehan spoke to the charity about the attack, the benefits of programmes like Hospital and the charity’s support for the A&E department.

“We’d been expecting a terrorist attack in the UK for 6 months and assumed London had to be one of the most likely targets,” he said. “It arrived and then you then switch into a well-rehearsed plan and that worked very well.”

“We have a major incident plan; we’d been rehearsing for having a far greater number of casualties than this. We prepare by practicing scenarios, practicing the pathways and practicing how we respond.”

The episode showed the plan in action, with Lesley Powls, site director at St Mary’s, donning the major incident hi-vis jacket (which she’s done twice more since the attack) and A&E staff scrambling to make sure beds were free and all non-essential treatment postponed.

“Everyone performed really well, it was all very smooth, very slick and I think they performed how I’d expect them to given the professionalism that exists within our centre, all the trauma centres around the country and the NHS in general.”

Shehan has nothing but praise for the show and the way it offers a down to earth, realistic portray of the Trust.

“I think programmes like Hospital are really important. I quite like the way the production company have been very understated throughout and I think this was an episode where they could have overblown it and they haven’t. They’ve kept it simple, very understated, they’ve focused on patients and that’s why it’s a very powerful bit of television.”

“What I like about Hospital is that it tells the truth. It also challenges the public; what would they do? There are important discussions to be had about how we fund the NHS, what kind of healthcare we want and as a society we haven’t had those yet and we need to do that.”

The A&E department provides a crucial service and we’ve been proud to support it in recent years. Notable improvements funded by the charity include a £3.5 million upgrade, resulting in increased capacity, and our Major Trauma Appeal which raised £1 for the major trauma centre that played such a key role in the episode.

The appeal paid for a Belmont Rapid Infuser, equipment which allows staff to quickly transfuse blood and fluids into patients at high volumes, much faster than was previously possible.

“It’s a really important bit of equipment,” said Hettiaratchy. “We get a lot of people in our trauma centre who have had penetrative trauma, particularly from knife cuts, a real problem in this part of London. We have a large number of people who rapidly need to have blood volume replacement.”

“We saw that with some of our casualties from the Westminster bridge incident and I think the Belmont Rapid Infuser really makes a big difference to what we can deliver quickly. It’s state of the art and that’s where we want to be.”

Because of the high volume of stabbings seen at the hospital, we partnered with the charity Redthread to tackle youth violence in London.

The programme helps young people involved in violence to turn their lives around by connecting them with youth workers while they’ve recovering in hospital.

“It’s been a really good initiative,” said Shehan. “We have a real problem with knife crime among adolescents and it’s really important for Redthread to intervene.”

“We often get people who’ve been stabbed once come back in again and often when they come back in, they’re dead. If we can break that cycle and break into their mindset and change their behaviour and change what people do to each other then it’s good. Prevention is always better than any kind of cure.”

“We’re massively appreciative of everything the charity has done for us. The fact that the stuff you’ve provided is being used on a daily basis, that goes to show that it’s money well spent. It’s made a big impact.”

We’re proud to support the incredible staff at the St Mary’s A&E department and will continue to do so. If you’d like to get involved and show your support to those who deal with some of London’s worst crises, please visit our fundraising page to find out how you can donate, take part in one of our regular fundraising events or organise your own. 100% of the money raised by the charity goes back to improving patient care around the Trust.

You can read more about our work to support the St Mary’s A&E department here.

13.06.17: New app helps parents of premature babies take a greater role in childcare


A mobile app, funded by the charity, is part of a new approach to helping parents get more involved in caring for premature children.

The pioneering new approach is the result of an £180,000 grant to teach the parents of premature children how to wash, feed and observe their child, as well as administer medical care under the supervision of hospital staff.

The traditional care model for premature babies takes control away from the parents, which can detract from typical familial bonding and often leads to anxiety among parents and babies.

“We had feedback in the traditional care model that parents don’t feel like a parent”, said Aniko Deierl, Consultant Neonatologist at the Trust. “They feel like visitors or spectators in the neonatal unit and it’s only one or two weeks before discharge where the neonatal team says ‘now you need to get involved because you’re going home’ and that can be very scary for them.”

With this approach. parents undergo supervised training and competency assessments to ensure that they are confident in caring for their baby.

The Integrated Family Delivered Care app, currently available for iPhone and iPad, provides accurate medical information that parents can rely on for support. It also allows parents to record their baby’s progress and share it with others. 

Although the app is the first of its kind, similar patient-delivered approaches have seen success around the world.

“A Dean from Toronto’s Mt Sinai Hospital had already done a pilot project and was in the process of doing a multicentred randomised control trial using family integrated care,” said Jay Banerjee, Neonatal Consultant at the Trust. “We got really interested, it’s a really low cost and high output programme where the patients as well as the baby can really benefit from it.”

Ian Lush, Chief Executive of the charity, said: “Imperial Health Charity is delighted to be supporting this project, which helps parents of premature babies feel less isolated and confused at what is a very stressful time. The app helps them to communicate with family and friends as their baby progresses, while the involvement in the daily care of their baby is proven to bring real benefits to the baby and parents alike.”

The grant supports two project coordinator roles, the hiring of a psychology assistant and the development and maintenance of the app. The project is currently running at Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Hospital but will soon commence at St Mary’s.

Although the app was designed with parents at the Trust’s hospitals in mind, it’s also being used around the UK as well as being endorsed by Bliss, a charity working to provide the best possible care for premature and sick babies.

An Android version of the app is expected to be released later this year. You can download it for iPhone and iPad here

12.06.17: Art tours and design workshop at St Mary's Hospital to celebrate Creativity and Wellbeing Week

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We’re delighted to be playing our part in London’s biggest ever Creativity and Wellbeing Week, with a series of events taking place at St Mary’s Hospital.

More than 300 tours, talks, exhibitions and attractions are taking place all over the capital during the week to celebrate the many ways in which art can improve our health and wellbeing.

The festival, organised by the London Arts and Health Forum (LAHF), comes ahead of the publication of a landmark report by the All Party Parliamentary Group for arts, health and wellbeing.

MPs on the committee are expected to set out the most comprehensive ever examination of the link between arts and health, and the benefits that creativity can bring for everyone in society.

This week our arts team will be leading two special tours at St Mary’s Hospital, demonstrating how we can use art to transform clinical environments and provide a stimulating experience for patients.

On Friday, a guided tour of our Art in Focus exhibition will give visitors the chance to find out about the work of abstract painter Sandra Blow.

Later in the afternoon, visitors will also have the chance to take a look at our recently installed art commissions in the accident and emergency department.

Expert designers at the Helix Centre, a project between Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art, will round off the week with an interactive workshop and drop-in exhibition exploring how innovations in design can improve end of life care for terminally ill patients.

Alice Strickland, Imperial Health Charity’s Art Curator, said: “Creativity and Wellbeing Week is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the many different ways in which imagination and invention through art can help improve the health and wellbeing of everyone in society.

“We’re delighted to be able to put our wonderful collection in the spotlight and look forward to demonstrating how we are using art on a daily basis to transform the hospital experience for patients and staff.”

The Helix Centre workshop takes place at the team’s studio in Norfolk Place, opposite the QEQM building, on Friday 16 June between 1pm and 2pm, with a drop-in exhibition between 2pm and 6.30pm.

The Art in Focus exhibition is on the Ground Floor of the Cambridge Memorial Wing in Praed Street, also on Friday 16 June between 12pm and 1pm.

The accident and emergency department tour, also on Friday 16 June, takes place between 2pm and 3pm.

All events are free with no need to book in advance.

For more information about each event, visit the relevant pages on the Creativity and Wellbeing Week website:

Art in Focus: Sandra Blow tour

A&E Art Commissions tour

Helix Centre workshop: Death by Design


07.06.17: Volunteer spotlight: Richard Anderson

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During the week, Richard works full time as a town planner for a large architectural firm but on the weekend, he’s part of a team making a big difference for patients on the neuro-rehab unit.

Patients can suffer from a wide range of neurological conditions, including stroke, brain tumours and multiple sclerosis and often have lengthy stays throughout their rehabilitation process.

On Monday to Friday they undergo intensive therapy sessions but on the weekend, boredom can set in, especially for patients with no family members close by. By keeping the patients entertained and stimulating their brains through board games, music and socialising, Patients Activities Volunteers like Richard play a crucial part in the patients’ recovery.

He decided to get involved with the charity after spending three months in the same hospital with a brain injury. “I can empathise with them quite a lot because I was in a very similar situation,” he said.

“I can understand the frustration that some of the patients have on the ward when there isn’t the occupational therapy that would take place during the week or there perhaps aren’t visitations from friends or family.”

“When it came to weekends and evenings I felt that I should not be there basically, I felt completely fit and able. In retrospect, mentally I certainly wasn’t. I tried to escape from hospital on two occasions and got as far as the front door and security. I thought I was fully recovered and that was it, I was fine. I can say in retrospect that wasn’t that case”.

When Richard was discharged, he says he felt immense gratitude to the staff and when he later found out about volunteering opportunities on the same ward, he jumped at the chance.

Having been treated in the hospital before the Patients Activities Volunteers were introduced, Richard is in a unique position to appreciate the difference they make.

“I think I would have found the group activities quite helpful. I’m not a group person but with the brain injury that I had and seeing some of the similar instances of patients that we deal with on a fortnightly basis, I’d like to think that even just talking to the group can help in the long-term.”

“It’s very endearing when you go back and see patients that you saw two weeks ago and can sense a difference in their talkativeness or their willingness to interact within the group, that’s really satisfying.”

If you’d like to get involved or find out more about volunteering with the charity, visit    

06.06.17: Volunteer spotlight: Cathy Clarke

Cathy Clarke

Cathy volunteers in the main oncology clinic at Charing Cross Hospital, assisting and welcoming patients to the ward. She became a volunteer after she was offered early retirement and wanted to help her community.

“Charing Cross Hospital is somewhere that’s local to me and I wanted to give back to the community,” she said. “I’ve always been involved with caring of some type or another and I really just wanted to be able to continue to do that.”

“I just love being able to interact with people, to hopefully make things a little bit easier for them when they come in. It can be quite a daunting thing when you’re visiting an oncologist so just by offering them tea and coffee, welcoming them and just being there you can just make it easier for them.”

Cathy has volunteered with the charity for the last eight years and she’s seen first-hand what a difference they make.

“I think they can ease the patient’s journey through the hospital. It’s just being there as a welcome, someone who can break down some of the barriers because hospital visits can be very daunting. We smile and show people that we’re all human, we’re all here for one purpose only and that’s to look after those that need the support and care we can give.”

Cath’s own passion and willingness to help led to her being nominated for a Make a Difference award, which she received earlier in the year. “I feel hugely humbled and very embarrassed,” she said.

Lynda Montgomery, the Clerical Officer who nominated her, said: “She’s an amazing individual. She always walks round with a smile and goes that extra mile. Although Cathy volunteers once a week, her caring presence brings warmth and brightens up our sometimes emotional and stressful oncology clinic. She’s a phenomenal lady with a heart of gold.”

If you’d like to get involved or find out more about volunteering with the charity, visit    

05.06.17: Volunteer spotlight: Stephen Morris

Stephen MorrisJPEG

Last year, our art collection was accredited by the Arts Council England, making us the only working hospital with museum status. It was the culmination of a process spanning several years and Stephen, our arts volunteer, was instrumental in it.

Stephen has a long, colourful history with the Trust, first volunteering shortly after the opening of Charing Cross Hospital in 1973. When he retired in 2002, he came back to the hospital and spent 7 years volunteering with the hospital’s radio station. It was through this that he met the charity’s arts team and since 2012 he’s been a treasured volunteer.

Since joining us, Stephen has taken on the mammoth job of cataloguing every piece of art across all five Trust hospitals. For this, he uses Collectrium, a piece of software owned by the auction house Christie's and used by notable collectors to manage their art collections.

“It’s not a trivial task,” said Stephen. “There are more than 2,000 artworks and there are four sites and multiple buildings on every site with multiple floors, so knowing where things are all the time is not easy. It is worthwhile and having that information is a basic requirement for the art collection to become a museum.”

 “I think the art collection does affect patients and people have repeatedly said ‘it’s fantastic, it really improves their working environment in very stressful locations, like intensive care units.”

A 2014 survey carried out by the charity revealed that 69% of patients credited the art collection with making them feel more relaxed in the hospital environment.

Stephen’s significant and varied experience have made him a huge asset to the team: “I have some professional qualifications that enable me to understand some of these things. I have a degree in history and history of art, I have a PHD in computing and the last full time job I had was as the head of the department of computing at City University. Before that I worked as a town planner for a long time in local governments, so I understand about institutions which is always useful.”

“Volunteering is about supporting an organisation you think is valuable and whenever friends have asked what they should do I say ‘well…volunteer!’ The people are great and they’re very motivated and it’s a very valuable thing to do.”

Volunteers like Stephen play a vital role across the Trust. If you’d like to get involved or find out more about volunteering, visit

04.06.17: Volunteer spotlight: Patricia Walton

Patricia Walton cropped

Patricia is one of our dedicated volunteers at the Fleming museum in St Mary’s Hospital, where she’s been helping out since 2012.

The museum is home to the laboratory where Alexander Fleming discovered the antibiotic penicillin, one of the most revolutionary breakthroughs in medicine, a fitting place for Patricia to volunteer, given her own relationship with the drug.

“I was given penicillin when I was 3 because I had double pneumonia following measles and if it wasn’t for penicillin I would have died.”

When she left school, she went onto to work for the pharmaceutical company, Beecham, where she worked with the legal team responsible for patenting the drug. However, one of the side effects of being treated with it at such a young age meant she couldn’t stay there for long.

“I was there for about 3 months. There was a leak of penicillin from the factory into the offices and I nearly died because I was allergic to it. I collapsed and couldn’t hear or see, and the doctor said if I wasn’t better by the end of the week I’d have to go into the isolation hospital but of course once I was away from penicillin I improved, but I couldn’t work there.”

She left Beecham to work at the BBC. With no risk of penicillin leaks, her career there spanned 30 years, culminating in a role as a production coordinator in the news and current affairs department.

“At 50 years old I felt I was burned out. It was stressful and there was a lot of dashing around and filming. I didn’t want to go on to 24 hour rolling news where you go in at midnight and leave at noon the next day.”

Patricia took her pension but her time with the BBC didn’t end there and she joined their Volunteer Visiting Scheme, providing companionship to retired BBC staff.

“I visit them because a lot, especially the women, didn’t marry. They were married to the BBC, so they have no family in old age.”

Patricia then decided to volunteer with Imperial Health Charity after her husband sadly passed away.

“My husband was full of life. He went blind in the army and they taught him to be a shorthand typist in the war ministry but he didn’t want to do that for the rest of his life. He knew the bosses were disappointed when they’d call in for a secretary expecting a dolly bird and they got him! He went to the LSE to study and got himself 3 degrees because he knew he had to be better than sighted people. He was a senior lecturer in economics at Hammersmith College for all his working life and he was a great ballroom and Latin dancer and played the piano beautifully. He said if he hadn’t gone blind he wouldn’t have achieved as much as he did”.

“He had a very full life and I’m sure he wouldn’t want me sitting crying at home, he would want me to be doing something. My friend read the ad in the paper and I applied. They asked me if I wanted to work in the museum and I said ‘‘oh not penicillin I’m allergic to it!’”

Despite this initial concern, Patricia loves her time volunteering at the museum. “I look forward to Wednesdays. I love talking, and we have people from all over the world which is so interesting and you get a rapport with them”.

She says she feels fortunate to be able to help at the museum and believes the volunteers make a huge difference around the Trust’s hospitals.

“Long may it continue because they’re getting something out of it as well as giving.”

If you’d like to get involved or find out more about volunteering with the charity, visit   

02.06.17: Volunteer spotlight: Rachel Blythe  

Rachel Blythe

Rachel is one of our Patients Activities Volunteers. For the last six months, she’s spent part of her weekend in the neurological rehabilitation unit at Charing Cross Hospital.

“As a Patient Activities Volunteer, I visit the ward on weekends, prepared with an activity plan and a few other volunteers,” said Rachel. “We gather the patients together and provide them with entertaining activities to do, e.g. baking, painting, reading.”

Patients in the unit can suffer from a wide range of neurological conditions, including stroke, brain tumours and multiple sclerosis and often have lengthy stays throughout their rehabilitation process.

They undergo intensive therapy sessions during the week but on the weekend, boredom can set in, especially for patients with no family members close by.

By keeping the patients entertained and stimulating their brains, volunteers like Rachel are playing a crucial part in their recovery.

Rachel heard about the Trust through the Imperial College Volunteering Fair and got in touch about becoming a Patients Activities Volunteer. “The role description suited me perfectly, so I applied to be a part of the team.”

“It is one of the most rewarding volunteer positions I have ever held and we frequently receive gratitude from patients who have tangibly felt better after we have been in to see them, even if just for a quick chat.”

One of Rachel’s most memorable moments was taking a walk with a patient who had trouble expressing her thoughts.

I spent the time making sure she never gave up on communicating what she was trying to say – she wanted to keep up to date on current affairs and she didn’t like the fruit she had so we got her some newspapers and fresh fruit. When we went back to the hospital afterwards, she held my hand and said thank you really carefully and it was one of the most fulfilling days I've ever had.” 

Rachel believes that volunteers are vital to the trust and that while patients benefit hugely, so do the volunteers.

“Getting hospital experience and helping patients relieve boredom on weekends has provided me with a better understanding of the medical profession and has introduced me to like-minded individuals that care and seek to help vulnerable people.”

“Volunteering provides a number of qualities I don't gain doing other activities; genuine insight into other people's lives, new perspectives, empathy, and the experiences and friendships made are invaluable.”

If you’d like to get involved or find out more about volunteering with the charity, visit   

01.06.17: Volunteers' Week 2017  

croppedThis week is Volunteers’ Week and we’ll be looking more closely at some of our fantastic volunteers and how invaluable their hard work is to patients and staff around the Trust.

From 2016-2017, 224 hardworking people kindly gave their time to volunteer at the Trust, from entertaining patients, accommodating visitors and making sure events run smoothly.

Sam Morris, Head of Volunteering at the charity, said: “Our volunteers give so much to support our hospitals, helping to make life for people in our care just that little bit nicer.”

“Whilst we try to say thank you to our volunteers as often as we can, I always look forward to celebrating Volunteers' Week as we join with thousands of other charities to recognise the millions of incredible volunteers up and down the UK. I am so proud of the volunteers we have supporting Imperial hospitals - they really do make the difference."

Since July 2016 the charity has managed volunteers at all five Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust hospitals to improve the experiences and outcomes for patients. We’ve received tremendous feedback from staff, patients and volunteers alike and will work hard to make sure this continues.

Our volunteers come from all walks of life and volunteer for a variety of reasons. Richard Anderson works as a town planner for a large architectural firm but on the weekend, he spends his time on the neurological rehabilitation unit at Charing Cross Hospital as part of a team who keep patients entertained through various activities, playing a crucial part in their recovery.

Richard decided to get involved with the charity after spending 3 months in hospital with a brain injury. “I can empathise with them quite a lot because I was in a very similar situation,” he said.

“I can understand the frustration that some of the patients have on the ward when there isn’t the occupational therapy that would take place during the week or there perhaps aren’t even the visitation they have from friends, family, whoever else.”

“it’s very endearing when you go back and see patients that you saw two weeks ago and can sense a difference in their talkativeness or their willingness to interact within the group, that’s really satisfying.”

Volunteers don’t only help out in a medical capacity either. Patricia Walton has been volunteering in the Fleming Museum at St Mary’s Hospital, providing tours for visitors eager to learn more about Alexander Fleming’s discovery of the antibiotic penicillin.  Patricia decided to volunteer with the charity after her husband sadly passed away.

“He had a very full life and I’m sure he wouldn’t want me sitting crying at home, he would want me to be doing something. My friend read the ad in the paper and I applied.

She says she feels fortunate to be able to help at the museum and believes the volunteers make a huge difference around the Trust’s hospitals.

“Long may it continue because they’re getting something out of it as well as giving.”

Volunteers at the Trust are regularly honoured through the Make a Difference award scheme, recognising hard work, dedication and achievements of those individuals that go out of their way to exceed expectations. A summer boat party will also be held next week for all volunteers to celebrate the difference they make throughout the Trust’s hospitals.

If you’d like to get involved or find out more, visit

30.05.17: Cancer team to trek three mountains in 24 hours to help fund patient care centre

8eb9a9af-7f5b-437e-8700-2e401b4fa6b4A team of cancer specialists at St Mary's Hospital are to climb three of the UK's highest mountains in a single day to raise £20,000 towards a brand new patient care centre - the first of its kind in the UK.

Surgeons, dieticians and other experts hope to conquer Snowdon, Ben Nevis and Scafell Pike in the space of just 24 hours.

The fundraising effort will help pay for a new centre supporting patients with cancers of the oesophagus and stomach - known as OG cancers.

It would provide a dedicated space for the hospital's award-winning PREPARE team to ready patients for life-changing surgery.

The PREPARE for Surgery programme is partly funded by Imperial Health Charity and brings together health specialists from different areas of expertise to give patients the best chance of making a full recovery after surgery.

Earlier this month, the team's 10 core members were named Surgical Team of the Year at the British Medical Journal Awards and also picked up the Patient Partnership prize.

Now they are aiming to raise tens of thousands of pounds towards a dedicated care centre, which would be the first multi-discplinary, peri-operative care centre in the UK.

The team say climbing the three peaks will be a symbolic challenge, mirroring the three stages of the patient experience - preparation, surgery and rehabilitation.

Venetia Wynter-Blyth, Nurse Consultant within the team, said: "We take account of the bigger picture, shifting the focus away from the illness and giving people the confidence to take control of their functional, nutritional and pscyhological wellbeing in preparation for surgery and recovery."

Imperial Health Charity recently awarded a grant of almost £100,000 to develop the programme. The money has helped to deliver personalised support for dozens of patients before and after surgery, including physical training, psychological assessments, respiratory exercises and nutritional guidance.

A dedicated care centre for the programme would provide a shared space for patients, reducing the likelihood of long waiting times.

Krishna Moorthy, the team's Consultant Surgeon, said: "Our results have demonstrated a significant improvement in post-operative outcomes. Most importantly, far fewer patients now have post-operative complications like pneumonia. The rate has fallen from 60 per cent to 30 per cent.

"Before, patients needed to stay around 12 days in hospital but now they are well enough to go home after eight or nine days. Many are in fact more physically fit after surgery than they were at diagnosis."

The team will begin the National Three Peaks Challenge at Ben Nevis on the evening of Friday 30 June before catching a bus through the night in time to start Scafell Pike the following morning. The climb will be rounded off at Snowdon later in the afternoon on Saturday 1 July. They hope to raise £20,000 towards the overall cost of the new care centre.

To sponsor the team, visit

26.05.17: Hospital fundraiser reunited with medics who helped save his life

IMG 8029A mechanic who raised more than £1,000 for Imperial Health Charity after surviving a dramatic car crash has been reunited with the emergency medics who helped save his life.

Storm Warner was pulled from his burning car and rushed to St Mary’s Hospital after colliding with a recovery truck on the M1 in June last year.

The 22-year-old was then transferred to Hammersmith Hospital where he underwent emergency surgery on his liver and spent a month in a coma.

It was a miraculous escape for Storm, who also suffered a punctured lung, a fractured hip, a broken ankle and several broken ribs in the crash. Doctors told him he was lucky to be alive.

Less than a year after the crash, Storm completed a sponsored solo skydive to say thank you to staff at St Mary’s and Hammersmith who provided outstanding care during his recovery.

Now he has been reunited with the ambulance team who were first on the scene and treated him just a few metres from the burning vehicle.

Storm met paramedics from the East of England Ambulance Service at their station in Hemel Hempstead.

He said: “I asked everyone, what gift do you bring? How do you thank someone for saving your life? You can’t.”

Storm remembers nothing of the crash, which happened in the early hours of the morning as he drove back home to Dunstable after visiting friends in North London.

Despite warnings from doctors that he would be in a wheelchair for several months, Storm was walking with the aid of crutches within weeks.

He said he owed his life to the lightning fast response of the ambulance team, the life-saving surgery carried out by experts at Hammersmith Hospital and the attentive care of nurses who helped him recover at St Mary’s.

He added: “I feel like all the money I’ve paid into the NHS has paid off in one go. I’m never going to complain about paying my National Insurance again.

“A friend told me he thought I was gone and it still hasn’t sunk in that I’m here. I appreciate how lucky I’ve been.” 

Storm is still collecting donations for his skydive and hopes to raise a total of around £1,400 for the charity.

Ian Lush, Chief Executive of Imperial Health Charity, said: “It was a heart-warming moment to see Storm reunited with the medics who saved his life a year ago and I am delighted that he has chosen to show his thanks by raising money for Imperial Health Charity.

“Storm’s story demonstrates how we must never take for granted the extraordinary work that our healthcare professionals carry out on a daily basis and I hope it will inspire others to help us support NHS staff on the front line.”    


25.05.17: Sign up for Walk for Wards and support your local hospital

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Hundreds of NHS staff, patients and community supporters are expected to take part in our Walk for Wards on Sunday 9 July – covering the same distance as Big Ben to John O’Groats.

It will be Imperial Health Charity’s biggest ever fundraising walk, raising money for Charing Cross, Hammersmith, St Mary’s, Queen Charlotte’s & Chelsea and Western Eye hospitals.

The route takes in the beautiful surroundings of Paddington and Regent’s Park, giving walkers the chance to explore the great outdoors while raising money for the hospital ward that means the most to them.

Collectively, the walkers are expected to cover more than 500 miles – the equivalent of marching from the heart of the capital all the way to the UK’s northernmost point.

With less than two months to go until the big day, we’re appealing for walkers to ‘say thank you with your feet’ and sign up for the event.

Everyone taking part can choose to raise money for a specific ward or department within Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust’s five hospitals or towards the charity’s More Smiles Appeal, which is funding the redevelopment of the children’s intensive care unit at St Mary’s Hospital.

Ella Segaran, a dietician who works in the Intensive Care Unit at St Mary’s, is taking part in the walk with a team of colleagues.

They will be striding towards the finish line to raise money for the ICU, which is currently undergoing a significant expansion with the addition of 16 extra beds.

“The work that we do is absolutely amazing and everyone is passionate about saving lives,” said Ella, who has worked at the Trust for the last eight years.

“The majority of the work we do is major trauma so we see some quite horrendous things. But it’s incredibly rewarding to see patients getting better under our care.”

Participants can sign up for either a two or five mile sponsored walk, starting and finishing at Merchant Square in Paddington.

Last year’s event raised more than £20,000 to help the charity fund dozens of projects for the Trust, including major redevelopments, clinical research and initiatives to improve the patient experience.

Laura Kell, the charity’s Head of Fundraising, said: “Walk for Wards is a fantastic opportunity for everyone who has received exceptional care and support at the Trust’s hospitals to say thank you with their feet, while enjoying the beautiful waterways of Paddington and Regent’s Park.

“Every penny raised will be put towards making sure that patients continue to experience outstanding care and treatment during their time in hospital.”

For more information about Walk for Wards and to sign up for the event, visit 

The entry fee is £10 for adults and £5 for NHS staff, children (5-17) and concessions. Under 5s can walk for free. There is no minimum sponsorship, simply raise as much as you can. However, the charity will match fund the first 100 people that sign up to take part in the walk, up to the value of £100.

25.05.17: Children's short stories to raise money for More Smiles Appeal


A new collection of short stories by children will raise money for the new children’s intensive care unit at St Mary’s Hospital.

The 11 winners from Daunt Books’ annual Children’s Short Story Competition have been published in a new book, available in all Daunt’s London bookshops. The collection was launched at an event at Burgh House in Hampstead on Monday night, attended by illustrator Jim Field, who also designed the cover art.

Laura Kell, Head of Fundraising at the charity said: “We’re absolutely delighted that Daunt Books have chosen to support the More Smiles Appeal. Every penny raised allows staff to save more lives and give even greater care to seriously ill children. The fact that two of the 11 winners have been treated at the unit is a testament to its far-reaching impact”.

Ottilie Burrill Smith, 8, who won with her story, Nutty the Acorn, was treated at St Mary’s Hospital when she was diagnosed with bronchiolitis at just four weeks old.

“I took her to the GP and the GP took one look at her and said ‘you need to go to hospital right now’”, said her mother, Jemima.

“Everybody was completely amazing. You have total faith that these people are going to look after your child. You’re relying on incredible nurses. It was a hard time afterwards but she got better and now she’s the healthiest most brilliant girl and super smart. She totally loves writing and this has been so amazing for her confidence.”

£1 from each purchase will go towards the More Smiles Appeal, a joint initiative between Imperial Health Charity and COSMIC to raise money for the renovation of the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at St Mary’s Hospital. This will mean up to 200 more children can be treated there each year in a state of the art facility to match the expertise of staff. 

Isaac Amory, 10, said he was excited and happy to win the award and would like to write more in the future. His story, The Efficient Elf, is about one of Santa’s helpers in the North Pole. For Isaac, the inspiration came from close to home: “I just based it on my sister! My mum told me not to say anything to her…”

Isaac was one year old when he developed meningococcal disease and was taken to the children’s intensive care unit at St Mary’s. “It was terrifying, dreadful,” said his mother, Alice Thomson. “Everyone at St Mary’s was fantastic and he’s completely fine now.”
“He’s really excited by the competition. His older brother won it a couple of years ago so he’s been trying hard.”

The book costs £6 and will be on sale until December in Daunt stores in Marylebone, Holland Park, Hampstead, Cheapside, Chelsea and Belsize Park as well as the Owl Bookshop on Kentish Town Road.

To read more about the More Smiles Appeal and find out how you can support it, visit

22.05.17: Digital art by Susan Collins installed at Charing Cross Hospital

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Works by the BAFTA nominated artist, Susan Collins, have gone on display at Charing Cross Hospital.

Images from Collins’ Wembury & Woolacombe (2015-6) series are the latest art works to be installed at the hospital, where they’ll be enjoyed by patients and staff in the Acute Medical Unit. The works focus on the North and South Devon coast, where Collins recorded the view across a whole year.

Each image was constructed line by line over the time it takes for the tide to go in or out and accumulated to form an archive of the year, from which these prints are a small selection.

Susan Collins commented: “I am delighted to have these works installed in Charing Cross hospital. As well as being about healing and caring, hospitals, for patients and their visitors, are often about time and waiting. These works are also, in a different way, about time, with both time and memory embedded into the images. They also provide a connection with nature, the coast, the outside beyond the city, the hospital ward, the corridors.”

The charity is a keen advocate of art in hospitals and manages a collection of over 2000 art works at the five Trust hospitals. A 2014 survey carried out by the charity revealed that 69% of patients credited the art collection with making them feel more relaxed in the hospital environment.

Zinka Zecevic, Occupational Therapist at the Acute Medical Unit said of the works: “The art has transformed the appearance of the ward. It was a unique experience to be able to visit and speak to the artist and have access to her work and have the opportunity to select the pieces from a much wider portfolio.”

Susan Collins is currently Professor of Fine Art and Director of the Slade School of Fine Art, UCL. She’s been a practitioner in the field of new and emerging media art since the late 1980’s. Her work is held in many public collections, including the Government Art Collection and the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter.

17.05.17: Fay Ballard exhibition comes to Charing Cross

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London-based artist Fay Ballard is the latest artist to be part of the charity’s Art in Focus collection, with a new exhibition now on display at Charing Cross Hospital.

Imperial Health Charity, which manages the art collection at all five Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust hospitals, has organised the display which runs until October.

Ballard studied History of Art as an undergraduate at the University of Sussex and in 2006 she completed an MA in Fine Art at Central Saint Martins. In her career, she has worked at the Museum of London, Royal Academy of Arts and Tate.

The works on display include three of Fay Ballard’s Memory Boxes. Each shows an array of beautifully observed objects including those found by Ballard on return to her childhood home after the death of her father, J.G. Ballard, in 2009. Other works demonstrate her interest in nature, such as Homage to Durer, a tribute to Albrecht Dürer’s masterpiece Great Piece of Turf (1503), a meticulous observation of wild flowers.

Ballard says of this exhibition: “I am delighted to be able to share my work with patients, visitors and staff at Charing Cross Hospital. Coming to hospital can be an anxious time and I hope that my drawings bring some comfort, joy and beauty. The NHS is our national treasure and what better place to exhibit than here.”

Her works have been displayed in the Huntington Library and Art Collections in Los Angeles, New Hall Art Collection and Winsor and Newton. She was commissioned by HRH The Prince of Wales to paint watercolours for his estate in the Cotswolds and in 2007 was elected to the Royal Watercolour Society.

She’s also an active supporter of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and holds weekly art workshops for patients undergoing dialysis at Hammersmith Hospital. Her deep art historical knowledge and conversations with patients has led to a beautifully written and illustrated blog:

17.05.17: Dementia Awareness Week 2017: helping our hospitals do more

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This week is Dementia Awareness Week and we’re taking a look at all the projects we’ve supported throughout the Trust for the benefit of those with the condition and the staff that care for them.

There are around 800,000 people with dementia in the UK and, due to our ageing population, this is expected to rise to 1 million by 2025. Dementia is a condition that encompasses a range of symptoms to do with the decline of the brain. This can include memory loss, difficulties communicating and changes in behaviour.  A third of people over 65 will develop dementia and two thirds of people with dementia are women.

Hospitals can be particularly disorientating and frightening places for people with dementia and Imperial Health Charity is proud to be the supporter of several key initiatives aimed at improving the quality of care for them.

Technology to help patients fall less and socialise more

The charity has funded the use of My Improvement Network technology, which provides a plethora of activities that includes games, music, physical exercises and opportunities for social interaction all contained within an All-in-One unit that is portable, compact and compliant with infection control requirements.

The technology has been in use on Valentine Ellis and Albert ward at St Mary’s Hospital since spring 2016 and involves activities on computers, television screens and tablets. It helps patients in a number of ways, including helping to reduce the number of falls and reducing the need for one to one Special Nurses. A study of patient falls on the Albert ward found that after the technology was introduced, falls dropped by 50%.

Katie Pritchard, Ward Manager on Albert ward, said: “The technology has made such a difference. It has transformed the way we deliver our nursing care to patients with dementia; we’ve even won a Quality Improvement Award recently. We would like to thank the charity for providing the funding for this equipment.” 

Creative workshops

Since July 2015 Imperial Health Charity has funded weekly creative workshops for elderly patients and those with dementia, organised by Paper Birch, an organisation that uses art and creative workshops to stimulate patients and encourage memories and thoughts.

Paper Birch run the workshops where patients are encouraged to use arts and crafts as a means of expression. “It's wonderful having such fantastic enthusiasm from the staff to make projects like this happen,” said Faith Wray, Paper Birch’s founder.

"Our workshops can make a genuine difference to patients and staff, as it gives ward staff the time to concentrate on patients who are in need of more frequent care. Alongside this, workshops can encourage mobility of patients and can totally change the atmosphere around a ward.”

Specialised support to keep patients well-nourished and hydrated

Many dementia patients find it difficult to eat and drink enough to keep themselves well-nourished and hydrated. To address this, Imperial Health Charity funded an innovative hydration and nutrition pathway to help patients consume the amount they need, which was developed by the dementia care team at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.

The Dementia Nutritional Support in Hospital Pathway (also known as NoSH) has three tiers of care and aims to improve nutrition and hydration in patients with dementia by providing a tailored response to their needs.

All patients who are admitted to the Trust with a diagnosis of dementia are automatically placed on the first tier of the NoSH programme, known as 'core support'. Patients have their weight monitored regularly and their food and fluid intakes recorded to help the nursing team ensure they are getting all they need. Patients are also given healthy snacks providing them with access to nutritious foods on demand and sugar-free squashes to add to water to help keep their fluid levels up.

For patients who require a little more support, the team has developed the 'enhanced' and 'intensive' tiers of the programme, which include daily reviews, one to one support for patients and the use of music during meal, scientifically proven to stimulate appetite.

Nurse, Jo James, dementia care lead at the Trust said: "Good nutrition is a vital part of dementia patients' recovery and goes hand-in-hand with treating their medical needs. Our new patient centred approach to nutrition and hydration allows us to keep a close eye on patients' intake while they are on the wards, which aids a speedy recovery so they can return to their own home sooner."

Dementia-friendly ward at St Mary’s Hospital

To help patients with dementia feel safe and secure, the Witherow ward at St Mary’s Hospital was completely redeveloped with funding from Imperial Health Charity in 2016.
Key improvements on the ward include:

  • ·       specialist lighting which mimics changes in natural light to help prevent patients from being confused about the time of day by artificial lighting

  • ·       a social area where patients can eat their meals together and which is painted orange to help stimulate appetite, as many patients with dementia do not eat enough
  • ·       pictures chosen by the patients themselves and hung over their bed to help them find it
  • ·       doors painted in contrasting colours to help patients easily find the showers and toilets
  • ·       matt wooden flooring, which replaces the old shiny blue coloured flooring that could be confused by some elderly patients as water
  • ·       clocks from the Alzheimer’s Society that tell the time and date, which are known to help orientate patients with dementia.

Helping staff better understand dementia

To help raise awareness of the condition across the trust, the charity has paid for the recruitment of somebody with first-hand experience. Dianne Campbell was diagnosed with vascular dementia at the age of 47 and wants to use her diagnosis to help others. She’s been brought on board to host training sessions, providing a unique insight for healthcare staff.

The Learning From Life project has had a transformative effect on staff and many have told us that their perceptions of people with dementia have changed entirely.

At the same time, the platform has given a voice to dementia patients, putting them at the heart of the Trust’s efforts to make hospitals more welcoming for people living with the condition.

Our funding has covered the cost of Dianne’s part-time salary, providing staff training one day a week and supporting the dementia team with a range of other tasks.

For more information about dementia, please visit

To find out more about the projects we’ve supported, visit

05.05.17: Imperial Health Charity announces 2017 research fellowships

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Imperial Health Charity has approved nine research fellowships of up to £50,000 for applicants to undertake pioneering research and invest in the training and development of Trust staff.

The program allows medical and non-medical staff to undertake 12 months of out-of-programme research to develop their research skills for the benefit of patients at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. A total of £436,905 was allocated to a range of grants, including research into improving dialysis access for older patients and developing a urine test to diagnose oesophageal and gastric cancers.

Gemma Clunie, a Clinical Specialist Speech & Language Therapist at Charing Cross Hospital, received a grant to study the voice and swallowing difficulties of people with airway stenosis, a rare condition causing narrowing of the airway. “I am just thrilled,” she said. “It was really unexpected. I was hopeful but you never know whether these things are going to come to fruition. It’s going to give me the opportunity to push my career down the path that I would like it to go.”

Aside from the potentially life threatening complications from the condition, airway stenosis significantly impacts quality of life. “If you’ve got a voice problem it can mean that you can’t work or you can’t do your job. Similarly if you’ve got a swallowing problem you’re probably not going to want to go out to a restaurant to eat and drink with friends. It starts to have much more of a social impact.”

“Imperial is the European centre for airway stenosis management. It’s got the biggest number of patients being treated with this condition and the surgeon who leads on it, Dr Guri Sandhu, is renowned as an international expert in the surgical techniques.”

“Our longer term aim is to try and make sure that we can disseminate some of what we do here to other places so that the care gets better all over the country, not just here in London. People are travelling a long way to come for treatment here. Longer term, we’re thinking about things like using Skype for therapy and whether that’d be appropriate to allow people to access our service without having to travel.”

Since 2009, together with our funding partner, the NIHR Imperial Biomedical Research Centre, the charity has made a total of 55 Fellowships totalling £2.5million.

The research fellowships are open to anyone employed by the NHS who plans to undertake their proposed research project for the benefit of patients at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust or the surrounding communities.

Applications for next year’s research fellowships open later in the year. For additional information or guidance please contact our Grants Officer at or call 0203 857 9844

04.05.17: Tom Hammick installation comes to Charing Cross Hospital

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Artwork by acclaimed British artist, Tom Hammick, is the latest addition to the Charity’s art collection.

Imperial Health Charity, which manages the art collection at all five Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust hospitals, has organised the installation of ten prints, now on display in the neuro-rehabilitation unit at Charing Cross Hospital.

The works on display demonstrate Hammick’s imaginative handling of colour and placement of figures, alone or in groups. Often working through the night, Hammick conjures dusk, dawn or moonlight with his palette of beautiful colours. The pair of woodcuts, Compound Day and Compound Night, illustrate his fascination with showing how the same building appears in different light.

Sarah Daniels, Lead Therapist at the Charing Cross Neuro-Rehabilitation Unit, said “Support from Imperial Health Charity has been fantastic over the last year.  On behalf of all of us on the unit, thank you very much for organising for us to have the Tom Hammick works. We love the prints and we hope he is pleased too.”

Hammick’s work has been displayed in public collections around the world, including the British Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, Bibliotheque Nationale de France, Yale Centre for British Art, and The Library of Congress, Washington DC.

In 2016, Hammick was awarded the Victoria & Albert Museum's Prize at the International Print Biennale, Newcastle, for his print Violetta and Alfredo’s Escape (2016), which has since been acquired by the V&A collections. In the same year, he curated the exhibition Towards Night at the Towner Gallery in Eastbourne, which explored the nocturnal through paintings, prints and drawings by over sixty artists.

To find out more about the charity’s art collection, visit


Charity Week: The Staff Arts Club visits Frieze Art Fair

Thanks to Imperial College Healthcare Charity’s Staff Arts Club, a group of lucky Trust staff enjoyed a very special day at the Frieze London art fair recently.

The hugely successful Staff Arts Club is run by Imperial College Healthcare Charity and offers Trust staff free access to paid exhibitions at several of London’s most popular galleries, including the V&A, Tate Modern and the Royal Academy, as well as exclusive chances to win tickets to events such as Frieze London.

The renowned international contemporary art fair takes place annually in an enormous temporary structure in Regent’s Park, and the special day included an artist-led guided tour of the fair highlighting some of the key galleries and artworks on display. 

Staff Arts Club member Craig Wah Day, who works as an e-commerce assistant at St Mary’s Hospital, said: It was a fantastic day. The tour was really informative, the guide was lovely and it was nice to learn about the art in more detail, something that would’ve been lost if you were just walking around. I had no idea a lot of art on sale will only be seen there and people travel from all over the world for it.”

Macmillan Clinical Nurse Specialist, Suzanne Vizor, said: ‘It was nice to be introduced to the Frieze by a knowledgeable working artist as our guide. Her insight was invaluable making the day a fantastic experience, so  thank you to the charity.’

The Staff Arts Club started less than 18 months ago and now has more than 1600 members. Previous Staff Arts Club events this year include an exclusive curator’s talk at St Mary’s Hospital on sell-out exhibition Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse at the Royal Academy, a private curator’s tour of the V&A’s Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear, plus numerous opportunities to go to private views at these museums and galleries.

Lucy Zacaria, head of arts at Imperial College Healthcare Charity, said “So many members of Trust staff have fed back to us about how much they enjoy being able to visit so many different galleries and exhibition which would normally cost a lot of money. The Staff Arts Club’s popularity has continued to grow this year and we’re really excited that we can continue to bring new and unique creative experiences to hospital staff.”

The Staff Arts Club is free to join if you are a member of Trust staff. You can sign up on the charity’s website:

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