Andy Burnham MP pays visit to Great Ormond Street Hospital

13 10 2011

Andy Burnham MP, the new shadow secretary of state for health, visited Great Ormond Street Hospital today, his first hospital visit since returning to a role in health.

He visited Cardiac Intensive Care, the cancer and leukaemia wards Lion and Elephant and held a private meeting with staff of all grades. Great Ormond Street Hospital is the largest UK centre for children with heart conditions, and in partnership with UCLH, the largest UK centre for children with cancer.

Shadow health minister Andy Burnham MP pictured with Dr Jane Collins (Chief Executive), patient Aiden Davey (aged 3) and mother Debbie.

Chief Executive Dr Jane Collins said “We’re always happy to show people what we do.  We discussed the importance of the right decisions around cardiac surgery in children in the Safe and Sustainable review, and also organ donation.  We were also able to discuss some of the challenges in children’s cancer and the research we undertake to address them.”

Mr Burnham met Aiden Davey (3) and mother Debbie from Romford Essex. Aiden is on Elephant ward receiving treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL).

Dr Anupama Rao, consultant haematologist said “I discussed with Mr Burnham the difference between acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) and ALL.  There is a 30% difference in outcomes and we need funding for research for new targeted drugs and therapies in AML, so we can see the improvements in care we have seen for other leukaemias.”

Andy Burnham MP, following the visit, said:

“There could be no better place to do my first visit in the new job than Great Ormond Street Hospital. Day in day out, they give hope to parents facing the most unimaginable difficulties. GOSH and it’s inspirational staff are a great example of our wonderful NHS at it’s very best”.


“Trim Tots” – improving child health

13 10 2011

Reaching out to children and families with a programme to promote healthy living within their communities, Professor Atul Singhal and Ms Julie Lanigan, researchers at the MRC Childhood Nutrition Centre, part of the UCL Institute of Child Health (Great Ormond Street Hospital’s research partner) have launched the “Trim Tots” programme.

Childhood obesity remains one of the UK’s most urgent health issues. Despite efforts to raise awareness and implement clear policy, a quarter of children are overweight by the time they reach school age.

LennonProfessor Singhal and Ms Lanigan have spent the last 10 years developing strategies to improve childhood nutrition and prevent obesity: “Our recent findings show a child’s early nutritional intake and lifestyle are crucial in determining whether they go on to develop obesity related illnesses,” they report.

“Between 70 and 90 per cent of overweight children have the early signs of obesity established by the time they go to school. Over one-fifth of these children will go on to become obese adults. It’s so important for us to intervene early if we’re going to improve the long-term health of these children.”

Having already delivered the MEND (Mind, Exercise, Nutrition… Do it!) programme which has already benefited over 15,000 families, Professor Singhal and his team are now rolling out a similar programme – Trim Tots – to target pre-school children.

“We’ve demonstrated the urgent need for younger children to receive this kind of support,” says Ms Lanigan. “Our challenge now is to deliver the Trim Tots programme so local communities may benefit.”

Lennon is one such pre-schooler who has been on the Trim Tots program. His mum Clare is very complimentary: “I was grateful for the opportunity to go somewhere once a week with my boys, Lennon, two, and new-born Ethan. There was free entertainment, fun games for the kids, and we learnt lots of new things. We were taught to make Lennon curious and interested in food. No sooner did Lennon help me prepare the dinner, than the following week he was eating broccoli like it was chocolate!”

Following a successful pilot, Trim Tots will soon be rolling out to centres across the UK. “We’re lucky to have staff and families willing to work with us to improve children’s long-term health and nutrition,” says Professor Singhal. “Great Ormond Street Hospital’s reputation has been crucial to gaining their trust and support. I genuinely don’t think we could have got this initiative off to such a successful start anywhere else.”

To find out more about the MEND program, visit the website at To discover more about research projects at Great Ormond Street Hospital and the UCL Institute of Child Health, visit our Bringing research to life website.

Happy birthday Peter Pan!

11 10 2011

All children, except one, grow up.

Whilst he may never grow up, Peter Pan is today celebrating a centenary. Today, 11 October 2011, is 100 years since Peter Pan the novel was first published.

Annotated Peter PanThe link between Great Ormond Street Hospital and JM Barrie, the author of Peter Pan, is an enduring one. In April 1929 he gave all the rights to Peter Pan to Great Ormond Street Hospital and since then the story of the boy who would not grow up has been helping children everywhere.

The first performance of Peter Pan took place on 27 December 1904 at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London and in 1911, the novel was published under the title Peter and Wendy and became an instant bestseller.

Though childless himself, Barrie loved children and had long been a supporter of the hospital, and his exceptional gift was a natural expression of that support. As Barrie himself said “at one time Peter Pan was an invalid in the Hospital for Sick Children, and it was he who put me up to the little thing I did for the hospital.”

The original novel, beautifully illustrated by FD Bedford was reprinted several times before the end of 1911. Since then, Peter Pan has been depicted in many different styles and costumes in hundreds of different editions all over the world.

Now, in celebration of this landmark centenary, WW Norton is publishing a very special edition, The Annotated Peter Pan. The book showcases a stunning array of photographs and drawings, many reproduced for the first time, including period photographs and illustrations from early editions. It has been put together by Maria Tatar, professor of English literature and folklore at Harvard University who has drawn on extensive research and enlivens our understanding of Peter Pan and JM Barrie, the creative genius behind Peter Pan. The Annotated Peter Pan, like many other editions, will also benefit the hospital and is available from all good book shops.

Peter Pan at GOSH Facebook PageWith the hospital given a right to royalty from Peter Pan in perpetuity by the House of Lords in 1988, the link between the two is destined to carry on. So today we are launching a brand new Facebook Page, dedicated to Peter Pan at Great Ormond Street Hospital. Expect the Peter Pan at GOSH Facebook Page to have information on performances, Peter Pan Week 2012 and many other ways in which Peter Pan is celebrated throughout the UK.

100 years on, the story of Peter Pan’s adventures in Neverland with Wendy, Michael, John, Tinker Bell and the Lost Boys, and his battle against his arch-enemy Captain Hook is still enchanting children and adults alike and is continuing to help towards making the hospital the incredible centre of hope it is today.

For more information about the relationship between Great Ormond Street Hospital and Peter Pan, visit our Peter Pan website.

Behind the scenes with the Portering team

7 10 2011

Working hard behind the scenes at Great Ormond Street Hospital, the Portering team carries out a myriad of duties that keep the hospital ticking over. Without them, the entire hospital would be in complete disarray. We try to find out more about these unsung heroes.

Dispelling myths

When asked what a porter does, many of us would assume it involves moving patients to and from wards, collecting blood products and delivering specimens. But delve a little bit deeper and it becomes apparent that the work of the Portering team is remarkably varied.

The portering teamFrom gas manifold changes, goods deliveries and responding to fire alarms, to furniture and equipment moves, the list of tasks completed by the team is almost endless. The Portering team is also responsible for sorting the thousands of letters and receipting hundreds of parcels that arrive every day.

And all this is undertaken by a team that is on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Constant improvements

The Portering department is always on the lookout for ways to improve.

A recent change is that they now deliver urgent milk feeds. Previously, nurses had to leave their wards to collect feeds. It is estimated that this has saved around 300 hours of nursing time in the five months since the service started.

The team is currently running a trial with the theatre porters who until now they have worked independently of. By helping each other and avoiding duplication, the team is making the service they provide more flexible. It’s still early days, but the team is confident that a synergy of the two teams will show real benefits for the whole hospital.

A vital cog

The work of the Portering team impacts every patient that comes to Great Ormond Street Hospital. Not only do the porters send out appointment letters, they also deliver the beds and cots to the wards and transport medical supplies so that the clinical teams can provide appropriate care to our patients.

“We are on target to complete our most productive year ever”, says Portering and Task Management Manager Mark Davis. “If we continue at our current work rate we will have conducted around 45,000 tasks by the end of 2011. We are a small, but vital cog in a large wheel.”

Find out more about Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Join our Virgin London Marathon 2012 team

5 10 2011

Over the next couple of weeks runners from around the UK (and the world!) will be waiting with bated breath to find out whether they got a place in the official ballot for Virgin London Marathon 2012.

After making the huge leap of deciding to run a marathon, it’s then a nerve-wracking wait as Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity fundraiser Rachael describes: London Marathon 2011“For the last 3 years, I have cheered Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity runners at mile 17 and am always in awe as the participants pass me. I made the decision at the event in 2011 that 2012 should be the year that I made the step up from my half marathon efforts to running the 26.2 miles at the world’s largest fundraising event, the Virgin London Marathon.”

“I entered the official ballot this year without a moment’s thought and now it is only a few days away until I find out if I am to be awarded one of these sought after places. I am a bundle of nerves as I await my fate, with the thought of training both intimidating and exciting me!”

With just a couple of weeks to go before we close the ballot for our very own Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity marathon team, you’ve still got a chance to put your name down for one of the biggest running events of 2012. London Marathon 2011Which means that even if you lose out in the official ballot, you have a second chance to get a place.

Rachael’s planning to try again if she needs to: “Even if I don’t get a place, I am hoping to secure a spot for this worthwhile cause, who I am phenomenally proud to work for and never fail to be inspired by the patients, their families, the nurses and doctors who work at this very special hospital.”

The deadline for applications is 14th October and we will contact everyone on 21st October with the results.

If you do manage to get a place in the official ballot, you can still join our team and help fundraise for us. Have a look at our Virgin London Marathon 2012 website for more information. And then all you need to do is get training!

Successful surgery for boy with prominent birthmark

4 10 2011

A team at Great Ormond Street Hospital has used an extraordinary technique to improve the quality of life for George Barter, 5, who was born with a very noticeable birthmark on his forehead.

Infantile involuting capillary haemangiomas affect one in ten babies. George as a babyA collection of small blood vessels that form a lump under the skin, haemangiomas are, for the most part, not problematic. Most haemangiomas will have disappeared completely by the age of five to seven years and even large ones may continue to get smaller until children are about eight to ten years old. However, for children like George, who have a prominent mark in an obvious place this can be a concern.

When George was born, his mum Karen asked her GP and a local hospital paediatrician about his birthmark and was told that it would disappear in a few weeks to a few years. However, moments in his childhood made her worry.  George’s birthmark was very fragile and would often become dry and form scabs. One day he banged his head with another child and it bled a lot.  How other people would react to George also worried Karen: “There was an incident when George was a baby and a 14 or 15 year old boy came by, stopped and stuck his head right inside the pram.  It was quite hurtful to see that happen.”

George, with the skin expanders inConcerned that he would be teased as he got older Karen found the Birthmark Support Group and they recommended getting a referral to a specialist, suggesting Great Ormond Street Hospital. At the hospital it was determined that George’s mark was a rare type of cavernous haemangioma, that it would not go of its own accord and that he should have surgery.

In order to be able to remove George’s birthmark the doctors expanded two inflatable sacs to under his hairline, allowing them, over time, to stretch the unblemished skin. The tissue expanders were put in in January 2010 and removed just 3 months later. George then went into surgery.

His surgeon, Neil Bulstrode, is very happy with the result and how George has coped: “It has been great to see how happy George is following the surgery. He had been through a great deal with such an obvious mark.”

George now“Due to the size of the lesion we had to stretch up the non affected skin of the forehead to be able to close the wound when the birthmark was excised. This meant having balloons under the skin inflated every week over a 3 month period. This can be quite shocking to see and difficult to live with but George and his family coped brilliantly. This has all been worth it as the resulting scar has faded extremely well. ”

George has recently started school with no worries, and he and his mum are immensely happy with the surgery: “It’s brilliant now.  George can go out on his scooter.  I’m not worried about him falling and hurting his head.  This surgery has made his life a lot better.”

Free Wills Month helps you leave a legacy

30 09 2011

In 1855, just two years after its foundation, Great Ormond Street Hospital received a legacy from a certain Miss Thompson of Brighton. Her legacy of £400, less taxes, was literally a life-saver for the struggling hospital and the children it has helped over the generations. The result has been that from the earliest days legacies (gifts in wills) have been recognised and appreciated as a vital source of income. Free Wills MonthOne of Great Ormond Street Hospital’s most significant legacies was, of course, that of JM Barrie, who left the hospital the generous gift of the rights to Peter Pan.

So, since the very first legacy to Great Ormond Street Hospital in 1855, legacy donations have been saving children’s lives.

That’s why, during October 2011 we are running a Free Wills service in locations across the UK for simple wills, to help you to get your will written without any expense, and with no obligation to make a donation. If writing or updating your will is one of those things you’ve kept putting off, now is the time to do it!

Illustration by David Wyatt from Peter Pan in Scarlet published by Oxford University Press © 2006 Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity

Illustration by David Wyatt from Peter Pan in Scarlet published by Oxford University Press © 2006 Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity

Free Wills Month brings together a group of well respected charities to offer members of the public aged 55 and over the opportunity to have their simple Wills written or updated free of charge by using participating solicitors in selected locations around England and Wales.

Free Wills MonthIf you live in any of the following locations (and are over 55), you could make the most of this free service: Bournemouth, Cardiff, Chelmsford, Cheltenham, Chester, Colchester, Derby, Exeter, Huddersfield, Leicester, Lincoln, Milton Keynes, North Wales, Norwich, Nottingham, Plymouth, Preston, Stoke-on-Trent, Swansea, Swindon and Torquay in October 2011. If you don’t live in one of these locations please call the legacy team and they will be able to offer an alternative.

Those taking up the offer are under no obligation to leave a gift to one of the Free Wills Month charities. As a children’s hospital we understand better than anyone that loved ones and family come first in one’s financial plans, which makes the gifts we do receive so greatly appreciated.

If you want to find out more about leaving a gift in your will and read about some of our amazing patients that these gifts help, please visit the Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity website or give our legacy team a phonecall on 020 7239 3105. For plenty more information about this campaign please see the Free Wills Month website.